The lamb born in a stable
I love Christmas time. I always have. Growing up in a liturgical church, we had such an array of festival and pageantry that Christmas was a time I always looked forward to; not only because of receiving gifts, but the nativity. I loved the nativity scene. My parents owned a jewelry store back in the day; Hart’s Jewelers. They worked late in December and we would always drive home in the darkness or fog after a full nights work. On the way home there was a star off in the distance with cascading streams of light. You could see it 5 miles away, at least that’s how I remember it. Under the star was a full-size life ( not living) nativity scene. It was truly amazing. Every night on the way my brother and I would beg my parents to drive by the “star”. They did, probably once a week, although I could have gone every night. I can remember every detail in my memory and it simply was the Christmas story for me. Jesus, in the manger, his parents over Him, the shepherds and wise men near by. Camels and sheep, lots of sheep. It was lit up and straw was all around. It was magical.
I always believed in Jesus, I didn’t doubt His existence or the virgin birth or the Angels appearing in the heavens singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo “. But I just didn’t realize what was really happening. God, leaving His throne, His kingdom, His worshippers to put on human flesh. To feel human, fully human; joy, pain, love, grief, anger, and abandoned. He became everything that we are; born, a life full of family drama ( remember no one believed Mary was a virgin, except Joseph ,Elizabeth, and Zechariah.) His brothers and sisters thought He was crazy and his earthly father died before His ministry began. He knew He was God, but He never used His powers beyond what we ourselves as believers with faith could use also. He didn’t come handsome so that people would look at Him and say”now there is a king!” He knew deep moments of loneliness that would not be satisfied the way it was in the heavenlies. And above all, He came knowing the mission, to die for all humans, to die in each and everyone’s place for their sins, great and small, filthy dirty icky sin. Every human that has been conceived He paid in full their debt for sin and filled an account full of all they will ever need. That account sits full awaiting the activation that occurs when you believe. Even those who rejected Him to their final breath have an account in their name that only awaits their belief. What belief? The need for being rescued.
This salvation that Christ came to redeem is all about the story of us. Our need to be rescued from bondage, a place we can’t get out of ourselves; a problem arises that impedes God’s purpose for life and blessing*. What God wants is for us to cry out to Him For help, to recognize we need help. The problem that arises, however, is that we think we can handle problems thrown our way; that we can work it out, create a plan to solve it. Our American culture is simply full to the brim of American self reliance and hard work. We built this country and we can make it better, we can bring it back, we just need a new leader, a new plan, or more money, but we can handle this, we don’t ask for help, that would be too dependent.
The crux of the salvation story is right at the beginning, God waiting to hear from us, to cry out. He gave us example after example of a people He called out to live so that we would see the pattern. The Israelites cried out and God heard them, the primal scream for redemption*. This is what we need to hear this season. Not what leader will get us, but what a God, The God, is waiting for. He seeks us out and asks “where are you?”
This Christmas season, don’t just remember the baby, the incarnate Word of God in human flesh, but remember why He came. That we might recognize our feeble attempt to save ourselves from a difficult life or circumstances. Those very issues are there to cause of to realize we can’t do it without this Almighty God. He is there, waiting in the garden, in the stable, on the cross, and in the empty tomb. Embrace your lack of control, embrace life’s curve ball that hits you in the eye, God wants you to need Him. Then sit back and watch the mighty rescue of your God. See his wonders and receive His grace. Without suffering or pain we would never know we need to be rescued.
Merry Christmas and may 2016 be the year you allow God to save and rescue you in everything, great to small. Then He receives the Glory and we get to share our story of rescue.