Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, as we come to Your manger and celebrate Your birth keep us mindful of the fact that although 2000 years has passed, nothing has really changed! Your smiling face still gazes out at us. Your loving hands still reach out to grasp our own. The peace, love, and joy You brought to those surrounding Your manger then still envelopes us. You truly are our living Lord. May that fact comfort us in life no matter our situation. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE BLESSED BABE OF BETHLEHEM!
TEXT: Hebrews 13: 8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Fellow Redeemed In The Christ-Child:
I’ve changed over my 53 years on this earth. Physically I’ve grown bigger than when I was born. Emotionally I’ve learned to put the ups and downs of life in better perspective. Mentally I’ve learned a lot of things.—20 years of formal education will do that! Likewise, my perspective on Christmas has changed, too. When I was a child gift-giving seemed to occupy most of my attention. But, as I got a bit older, family time, seeing my grandparents arrive, and practicing and then doing the omnipresent Christmas program at church captured more of my attention. Slowly but surely, by God’s grace, I learned that Christmas was primarily about the coming of the Christ Child.
That insight has been further refined by time. At this point in my life I don’t engage in special gift-giving with my lovely wife at Christmas because: 1. We don’t need anything. 2. We enjoy focusing on time well spent with each other and thus try to avoid the mall at all costs. And 3. We find our Christmas fulfillment in the church services since the Baby Jesus gives us all we could ever want or need in this life.
Of course, Christmas traditions and how people celebrate Jesus’ birth have changed a lot over the centuries. And yet one thing, and only one thing, has remained constant over the past 2000 years. That constant is Christ and the joy that He brings. Today, on the anniversary of His birth, I want to briefly outline this fact for you by pondering this question:
WHY IS CHRISTMAS JOY TIMELESS?
At that first trip to the manger there were no sparkling lights and decorations adorning trees. The first gifts came many months later with the advent of the wise men. Christmas carols really were not sung, except, of course, the heavenly carol sung by angels. There was no feast, either, as food was scarce. And yet, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds experienced tremendous joy at it all. And the reason for that is that they had it all—they had the Christ-Child before them, eternal salvation before them, God’s timeless Son before them, lying in a manger. They saw, they held, God’s tangible forgiveness, God’s gift of eternal life, all wrapped up in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Since we know that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and that God’s Son is inseparably connected with the Spirit, that little Baby filled them with heavenly joy. It was His gift to them. Likewise, since we know that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” that same joy is His gift to us this very day!
We usually define joy as an emotion. A feeling of well-being and tremendous happiness. A feeling of peace and inner centeredness. When you’re filled with joy, problems recede, troubles fade, and the hardness of life becomes soft. Joseph was poor and was worried about his new wife, all alone, in a strange town, and living in a stable with a newborn. Mary was worried about having a new husband, a child to care for, and uncertain prospects. The shepherds also had a hard life living outside, taking care of aimless sheep, and worrying about the current price of lamb in Jerusalem. And yet, on that first Christmas, all those worries gave way to joy! In an instant, they forgot all about the economy, their living conditions, their aches and pains, the advance of old age. In an instant, joy took over their lives. Yes, they saw face-to-face God’s love for them in that manger. Time stood still for them. The Messiah was born! God had kept His promises. A guilt-free life here and a heavenly future for all of them was assured. This Baby made it all possible!
My friends, the chief reason we are here today, the chief reason behind all the exhausting preparations for this very day, is encapsulated in the words of our lesson. For this Baby Jesus is the “same, yesterday, today, and forever.” He never changes. His love for us never changes. His forgiveness extended to us is the same today as it was in Bethlehem. And so, our joyfulness is really exactly the same as theirs, if we but recognize Him and hold Him in our hearts.
We often contemplate on how different it must all have been for them on that first Christmas Eve. But wonder no more! For since Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, their joy was the same as our joy! Their faith the same as our faith. All because the object, the reason behind it all remains constant! And that is why Christmas joy is timeless! Amen