By this time of the day the presents have been unwrapped. The mounds of paper, ribbons, bows, gift bags and boxes have been piled up and perhaps thrown away or recycled. Toys have been played with, electronic gadgets have been put to use and clothes have been tried on. The gift cards have been tucked away for later or maybe there has been some online shopping already. And some of us have had a long winter's nap! Some have celebrated birthdays today...a kids curse. It is not easy to have your birthday overshadowed by the birth of Christ. But how cool to celebrate on the same day.
Worship services have been conducted. Perhaps choirs have sung. Messages have been preached. Christians all over the world have stood in the candlelight and sung Silent Night. Worship looked different this year. People wore masks and distanced. Attendance numbers were capped for each service. There weren't crowds of people squeezing into each pew. and yet, worship was the same. We sang the familiar songs and maybe a new one or two. The gospel lesson from Luke 2 was read. Once again, we listened to the story. A census was ordered for the purpose of imposing a tax on everyone in the Roman Empire. Mary, 9 months pregnant along with Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There was no room anywhere except for a stable. Jesus was born there, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a feeding trough. Angels came and scared shepherds out in the fields half to death.
The angel came with news God's people had been waiting for, for centuries. The Savior was born! He was in Bethlehem! And the shepherds made haste to go see. It was true. They saw with their own two eyes. The prophets were right after all. God made a promise and He kept it. It was miraculous and wonderful. The story is told by young and old. Some read it at the table before Christmas dinner is served. Others hear it at church, and some have only heard this story because they watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special on TV. And some watch kids at a Christmas pageant act out the familiar story. Handel took the story and set it to music. However you have heard it, this story never gets old.
It is evening. The sun has set, and lights have come on all over the neighborhood. I can still see the planets Saturn and Jupiter in the sky. Many will say Christmas is over until next year. BUT, the adventure is just beginning. The day of Jesus birth may be over, but Jesus life is just starting. We are just beginning to see the power, might and awe of Jesus Christ. Even though the angel and the heavenly host were amazing God could say to all of us...you ain't seen nothing yet. There is much more to come. The story is just unfolding. Babies are wonderful and they often make adults do silly things. But babies grow up and we see that in Jesus. We see Him in the temple when He was twelve. And then when He begins His public ministry at age thirty.
There are miracles to witness, teaching to hear and study, and eventually after three years of public ministry we will witness once again Jesus death and resurrection. Along the way we will meet a cast of characters that sometimes doesn't look much different than we do. We see those who have doubts and those who have incredible faith. We look on as the scribes and Pharisees, Sadducees and priests look for a way to thwart Jesus. We see people on the fringes of faith and those whose faith never wavers. We will encounter those who stand in awe of what Jesus has done and those who see but can't or won't acknowledge Him. All of them, just like us.
We are going on a journey this year, the journey of a lifetime. And we are journeying together. Beginning January 1,2021, we are going to read the Bible all the way through, beginning to end...Genesis to Revelation. I invite you to come along. It is an amazing journey. Think of the people you will meet. Some you have heard of and others, well, you won't even be able to pronounce their names. Some of the stories will be familiar and there will be times when you say I didn't know that was in the Bible. This is a journey through God's Word, 66 books written by 40 different authors in three different languages in many different genres. But I digress. I am excited about this journey and I hope you are as well.
But right now, it is still Christmas Day. My prayer for each of you is that the Lord will bless you and keep you. That He will make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. That He will lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Merry Christmas
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W