June 28, 2010 David Balzer

Luke 2:1-20: A Child’s View of Christmas

There’s something strange that happens on Christmas morning. Something that those of you who are PARENTS have probably noticed.

And it’s NOT how your age daughter whose struggled to wake up before 8 am for the REST of the year. Manages to be up with the birds at 5 am. THAT’S certainly strange. But not what I had in mind.

This is it. Your 1 or 2 yr old gets a beautifully-wrapped present. Inside is the gift you’ve carefully selected. Making sure it’s educationally sound. Passes the Australian Standards for safety. It’s fun. It’s age-appropriate. In his favourite colour.

And when he finally opens the wrapping paper, and the box… He takes one look at the present, then starts PLAYING WITH THE WRAPPING.

In fact, the wrapping continues to amuse him for the rest of the day. There’s the paper that’s bright and colourful. And makes a great noise when you scrunch it up.

There’s the big box that’s PERFECT for hiding in. It’s fascinating the way the flaps open and close. Open and close.

The ribbon is useful for ALL SORTS of things. Who CARES about the present?

A child’s view of Christmas. Is getting PREOCCUPIED WITH THE WRAPPING. And FORGETTING ABOUT THE PRESENT.

And yet it’s not only the KIDS who have this problem at Christmas time. Who have a CHILD’S view of Christmas. Who become PRE-OCCUPIED WITH THE WRAPPING. AND FORGET ABOUT THE PRESENT.

Most of us ADULTS do it too.

Christmas is SO BUSY. We wrap it up with so many extras. So many traditions. And expectations. And events. There’s the “end of year break-up” things, the “family get-together” things, the “holiday” things, the “food” things, the “hospitality” things, the “shopping” things, the “buying presents for anyone who might possibly buy YOU one” thing.

There’s just SO MUCH WRAPPING around Christmas. That we forget about the PRESENT. The GIFT. The REASON FOR THE SEASON.

So let’s NOT have a child’s view of Christmas this year. Let’s take the time to put aside the wrapping for a few moments. And to remember again the WONDER of the greatest gift the world has ever seen.

That God would send is ONLY SON. And wrap him into a human body. To live among us. To DIE among us. To bring us back to God.

It’s such AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT, so UNEXPECTED. So out-of-the-blue. It SHOULD make us SHAKE OUR HEADS in amazement. At the enormity of what happened.

It certainly did for MARY. Put yourself in HER shoes. She couldn’t get her head around it. There she was just going about life as normal. When she has a visit from an angel. Lk 1:28.

(Luke 1:28-35 NIV)  …”Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” {29} Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

But if the GREETING threw her, that was NOTHING compared with the REST of the message.

(Luke 1:30-33 NIV)  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. {31} You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. {32} He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, {33} and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

God was coming to visit. But not through an angel or a prophet’s words. Not by a burning bush. Or in a pillar of fire, or in a cloud. God was coming to visit Mary. And she would have a BABY. Who’d be called – not the Son of Mary – but the Son of the Most High. God’s son.

A son who’d be king. Who would reign over a never-ending kingdom.

And when it comes to HIS NAME. There’s MORE to marvel at. Mary is to call him JESUS. Which in Hebrew is just Joshua. And which means “The LORD SAVES”.

“The LORD SAVES”.

Jesus will be a SAVIOUR. Saviour’s not really a word we use a lot these days. To SAVE gets used a bit. But it’s more to do with US saving something. Shopper dockets SAVE us money every time we fill up at the petrol station.

Perhaps the closest we get to SAVIOUR is when we go to the beach, and see the LIFESAVERS. Which is really the same thing. THEY’RE saviours.

But probably the word we’d use today instead of SAVIOUR/ is RESCUER. Jesus came to RESCUE us.

But if Jesus came to RESCUE us/ that means we’re in a situation that we needed RESCUING FROM. If that’s TRUE, then that WOULD be a wonderful gift. People who’ve been rescued from a life-threatening situation are SO GRATEFUL for the gift they’ve been given.

Did you see the photos in the paper during the week showing some American soldiers rescuing a shot comrade. I assume it was Iraq. He’d been hit by a sniper, and as his mates ran in to rescue him, one of them was shot too. They were dramatic photos.

I reckon the soldier who was rescued would be grateful FOR LIFE to his mates who put their own life on the line to save his.

But as you look around, most people in Australia don’t seem to be in a life-threatening situation. Life’s pretty good here. Perhaps for most Aussies, the worst they think they need rescuing from is their Christmas Credit Card bill.

What do we need RESCUING FROM?

Matthew’s gospel tells us about an angel who visited Joseph. We don’t know whether it was the same angel or not. And THIS angel gives Joseph a few more answers. Fills in the picture a bit more. Listen to what he said. Mt 1.20.

(Mat 1:20-21 NIV)  …”Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. {21} She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, BECAUSE HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.”

Not only will Jesus sit on David’s throne, and be a king over the house of Jacob. Not only will he SAVE people. He’ll SAVE THEM FROM THEIR SINS.

Which is really short-hand for saying he will save people from THE CONSEQUENCES of their sins.

And that’s something we ALL need saving from. Because not only do we have a child’s view of CHRISTMAS. We have a child’s view of GOD.

We stick our fingers in our ears. Close our eyes. And whistle in the dark. And pretend that God’s not there. Or if we DO know he’s there, we don’t want anything to do with him.

We’d rather live life OUR way. Run our OWN LIVES. WE’D rather be GOD, than let God be God.

And God says that that attitude has consequences. It’s rebellion against him. And he won’t put up with it. Rebellion like that will result in God’s JUDGMENT. In him separating you from an eternity with him.

And THAT’S something we all need saving from. And that’s where JESUS comes in. Jesus – the one whose name means “THe Lord saves”.

Because God’s amazing rescue plan involved his own Son, dying, so that we didn’t have to. God counts the of Jesus as acceptable punishment for our rebellion.

And offers us the gift of forgiveness. Free. Signed and sealed. The best Christmas gift ever. And all we have to do is TAKE it.

Accept God’s offer of RESCUE. Of FORGIVENESS. Thank him for it. Accept the gift. Say sorry for your rebellion. And asks God’s help to life your future with HIM as God instead of You.

That’s the GIFT we celebrate at Christmas. The GREATEST gift in the history of the world.

When you peel away all the wrapping. All the ribbons and paper and tinsel. When you take off the box. That’s the gift. That Jesus will save his people from their sins.

Accept it this Christmas.

Happy Christmas Everyone!

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