2010 12 05
Reverend Anthony R. Locke
December 5th, 2010 www.FirstPresTucker.org
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
Luke 2:6-22 Second Sunday of Advent English Standard Version
6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
My sons saw Santa Claus at Sam’s two weeks ago. He wasn’t in his red suit. I guess he was shopping. My sons were not obeying my wife very well and they got caught being naughty, not nice. Santa was standing behind them with his arms crossed and my kids got quite a scare.
I love this age of childhood dreams and imagination. I love the Christmas morning magic when their eyes open wide and their faces smile with delight. Most parents do what they can to keep the magic of Christmas alive for their children for as long as possible.
God wants us adults to keep the wonder of Christmas alive in our hearts too.
God loves the holidays. We know this from the Old Testament. God intended to instill holiday magic into the culture of the Jewish people through the public celebrations and meals. Passover was God’s idea. The Feast of First Fruits, of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, Dedication and Purim: these are feast celebrations that God invented.
God infused reoccurring holidays into the community calendar that taught lessons of faith. And like any parent, God looks forward to our rediscovery of that joy every year.
We should never get tired of the real magic of Christmas. Christmas calls us to renew our faith in the promises of God. There were many long awaited promises that finally came true.
Jesus is the child who would bruise the head of the serpent. Jesus is the boat of salvation that would carry us through the flood waters of God’s wrath. Jesus is the serpent raised up on a staff that provides healing for those who look in faith.
Jesus is the prophet who speaks the eternal words of life. The high priest who intercedes for the sins of the people and the King who subdues enemies and leads the people into His goodness. Christmas calls us to renew our faith in the promises of God.
Christmas also reminds us that God does the miraculous. Jesus was Virgin Born. Jesus was of the un-cursed blood line of King David who was able to legally claim the throne. Miracles started before Jesus was born when angels appeared to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.
The miracle of the star that led the three Kings to Jesus is a wonderful reminder that God works miracles for His people. And during the Christmas season we adults should be refilled with Christmas wonder as we consider this miraculous story.
Christmas also provides encouragement for struggling families. Joseph and Mary were poor, the community thought it was a shotgun wedding, they delivered a baby outside of a hospital, and they were forced to flee into Egypt for fear of their lives.
And yet in the midst of all these opportunities for catastrophe, God provided what they needed to get through one day at a time.
So God our Father expects that every year our hearts will be reawakened by the details of this wonderful story to renew our faith in His promises, His miracles and His encouragement.
Just like the saints in the Old Testament who renewed their faith during those Jewish holidays, we should find great joy during Christmas as we unwrap the gift of salvation from our heavenly Father.
And God’s gift never becomes dull. Knowing what is in the package doesn’t steal the joy and surprise. God’s gift of a baby in a manger is never last year’s toy. Jesus never becomes an out dated gift.
Why? Because in Christmas God didn’t give us a new thing, God gave Himself wrapped in human form. Birthday celebrations are always wonderful and the birth of a baby is always filled with magic.
I remember when my first son was born. Tyler was born on a Sunday morning right here at Dekalb Medical. As Tyler was getting closer and closer, I was operating a video camera to capture Jenn’s expression as Tyler was born and then placed in her arms.
The doctor saw my error and got me to put down the gadget to help him with the delivery.
And then to make me even more uncomfortable, the doctor asked me if I wanted to cut the cord. I said, “no thank you.” So, the doctor cut the cord, put him in a thin blanket and shoved him in my arms.
To my memory, I had never held a baby before. I was terrified. I was clueless. They worked on Jenn for a couple minutes and with great relief I put Tyler in Jenn’s arms. I then picked up the video camera and captured a precious video I still watch today.
How did my wife respond to holding a baby? She shed tears. She held him close. And she celebrated him by speaking his name.
Now, I submit to you, that the message of Christmas should affect us the same way. Every year we should re-embrace and love the baby Jesus.
I think ladies might be able to get into the spirit of Christmas faster for this reason. They know how to respond to the birth of a baby. We men tend to misdirect our attention to the gadgets during the season of Jesus’ birth. And by gadgets I mean the unimportant details.
To illustrate, I am more comfortable talking about the hypostatic union of the human and divine natures of Jesus in one person than opening my heart to spend time meditating and praying that I might make a connection with the baby who was born.
But Jesus in a manger isn’t meant to be an educational experience. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and whosever believes in Him shall never perish, but have everlasting life.”
The Son of God became the Son of Man to connect us back to God. Jesus is the author of life and we need to embrace that life. Jesus is love and we need to embrace love. Jesus is the fullness of God in bodily form and we should be conformed to that image by holy living. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. The pre-existent Logos or Word of God.
Jesus is the second Adam, providing new federal headship for the human race as the One who will keep the covenant and whoa-whoa-whoa.
See what I mean. It is easier for me to embrace and talk about the gadgets that surround Jesus’ birth than embrace the baby.
Don’t over analyze the baby. Religious people over analyze the baby with theology, non-religious people over analyze the Bible story with skepticism and questions about the historicity of the miracles.
Christmas is not the time for that. Jenn shed a tear. She held him close. And she told him his name. We need to do all three. We need to let the love from this person enter our heart.
Second, we need to embrace the baby. I used to hold babies like this. Arms out and looking uncomfortable.
When a woman gets close to a baby their arms start to lift up involuntarily. They need to hold the baby. When my wife was pregnant people even rubbed my wife’s belly to get near the baby.
But we need to be ready every Christmas to embrace the Baby Jesus, to lift up our arms and embrace the holy of holies. How?
Let His love enter your heart and embrace Him. Put your faith in the promise that He is the one sent to redeem the world from sin by His death on the cross.
The temple servant Simeon picked up baby Jesus and worshipped. You don’t hesitate. You don’t cower in fear. You hold out your arms, bring Him close to your heart, and let Him be at rest in your embrace. You snuggle with the King of Kings, the Creator, the Great Judge of the Earth.
As we consider the wonder of God’s gift, we adults might have more magic in our hearts during Christmas than our children who open presents from Santa.
So when a baby is born we let our heart be moved, we embrace Him, and then you celebrate the baby.
John the Baptist did. Jesus came into his presence and little Johnny did a somersault in Elizabeth’s womb. When is the last time your heart did a celebratory somersault as you reflected on the Lord of glory?
The wise men did. Matthew 2:10-11 The Wise Men saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.
The angels did. Luke 2:10-14 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Part of celebrating Jesus is speaking His name.
The angels couldn’t keep silent. The shepherds couldn’t keep it to themselves.
Luke 2:17-20 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
We parents are looking forward to seeing the wonder and magic of the season in the eyes of our children. God the Father anticipates seeing the same wide eyed wonder and joy in the hearts of us adults as we get reacquainted with the heavenly gift, God’s Son, the beautiful baby Jesus.
May you be deeply affected by the baby Jesus, may you embrace Him and may your life be filled with great joy. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.