In a small manger bed, in a pretty bleak atmosphere despite stories of angels, and singing and wandering/worshipping shepherds, there is a word that God has spoken that IS the only cure for what ails the human heart.
This gift of Jesus is just that…a gift – a gift of love and grace that continues to inspire and dramatically change lives despite the passage of the centuries.
God wants for no other reason for you and me to experience in Christmas a reminder of what has always been on the top of God’s agenda for you and me to experience – and that is love.
For what more can a newborn baby bring than a heart of love…what more can a miraculous birth into our world be than that one expression of God’s love for you and for me that we so desperately need and long for?
We need another good dose of good news in our day…in these moments.
Maybe we’ve screwed it up a lot over the years…maybe we put the wrong foot forward when it comes to really letting people around us know about what God is up to…but don't be distressed.
Make no mistake about what God wants us to hear loudly and clearly again this Christmas Eve night – you and me are loved.
God actually looks happy to be with us.
You know how you can tell whether a person really does love and care about you? When those other people want to hang out with you.
I’ve always felt a bit sorry for people who wallow in the waters of loneliness…can be very devastating.
But what I like to tell people who are battling with loneliness is this – be the type of person that others would love to hang out with and people will start showing up.
I’ve never had a problem not wanting to hang out with people who care about me and actually look like they are happy to be around me…just the way it is.
Here’s God – God could have chosen any way in the universe on how to communicate his love to people. What He did decide to do was hang out in our world and actually look like He was enjoying himself.
If there is something we know about the Christmas story is that it was full of joy:
- Angels singing, shepherds running to see what this Jesus is all about…Mary and Joseph and a baby cooing in a manger bed.
- God didn’t wisk the baby away to some secret spot as if he were trying to keep him concealed or hide him from the average folk…God put him right out in public.
- Let everyone who wanted to see Jesus get a chance to see – God’s actually happy to be here…with you and with me.
Make no mistake about it…if the truth of tonight is that Jesus loves you there is also another truth that is just as important for you to hear…Jesus likes you and wants to hang out with you.
The "Incarnation" is a big word that says Jesus moves into your life. He pokes around and looks where you want him to and where you don’t want him to and he still comes to the same conclusion, He says, I love you..astounding isn't it?
He’s taken the initiative to seek us out.
Ever sense that feeling of being lost before?
A lot of us have…a lot of us would admit that we have lost our way in life more times than we can count.
- Some of us set out in life to be happily married and got divorced.
- Some of us set out to be healthy and got sick.
- Some of us set out to do something really significant with our lives and ended up with an important but publically insignificant job, living our lives influencing dozens instead of millions.
God does his best work with those who are lost…
We are lost…and Jesus was born in our backyard as if God were to say to us personally, “hey, found ya.”
Bono, famous U2 singer and front man once wrote, “I went looking for spirit and I found alcohol; I went looking for soul and I bought some style; I wanted to meet God and they sold me religion.”
Religion never can deliver because it is not something that seeks you…it isn’t personal…it is a system…a cold, organizational, dogma laddened system.
But Jesus, this is God looking for you…
You never have to worry about whether Jesus really does want to find you.
- Oh you may have wondered if people really cared enough to look for you and find you when you were playing hide and seek as a kid.
- You may wonder even now if when you look at your life, I mean really homestly, if people were to know the real story…if they would care…if they would love.
- You never have to worry with Jesus
No matter who you are…no matter what you have done…no matter what’s going on in the deep recesses of your heart, Jesus will be born unto YOU this night.
In the eyes of a child, the Jesus child, there is nothing more than love and acceptance and grace for you.
Ever looked into the eyes of a newborn baby?
Exploring…looking…searching and then locking in…when that happens, there is a smile.
Jesus has the uncanny ability to look at everyone with grace-filled eyes.
Not only seeing the beauty of who you are but what you could become…your sacred potential.
One of my favorite authors once wrote, “turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is gooder than we ever dared hope and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad tidings in this world the gladdest thing of all.”
A lot of us have been exposed to toxic faith.
Hypocrisy and prideful people squelch any possibility of us encountering anything but toxicity.
But the Good news is this – God wants you to thrive! This isn’t a meaningless universe and you are not here out of random or accidental processes that you and me will never understand…
God entered our world and demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is NOTHING that can separate us from God’s love.
That’s why Jesus is important…He’s close…He’s very close…that’s what baby’s do…they snuggle in close.
God isn’t out there…He isn’t on some throne of judgment looking to axe you as soon as He has an opportunity…what he is saying from a manger bed is, "I LOVE YOU."
You know, there was a survey done by a sociologist not too long ago…asked the question, what are the words that people long to hear:
And no, it isn’t “you just won the lottery”
- Number one – “I love you”
- Number two – “I forgive you”
- Number three – “supper’s ready”
That’s what God says to you through Jesus – I love you, I forgive you and come to dinner with me.
NO one needs to tell you to “get religion.”
Religion is a system of rewards, blackmail, calculation and aggrandizement in which people only come off better or worse.
You see, Jesus never bullies…the manger doesn’t coerce.
- When you feel like you are at the end of your rope…God’s love runs up to you and embraces you with tender arms and a loving heart.
- When you feel like your heart is broken and there’s no hope left, God takes that broken heart and gives you HIS.
Right at the point of your struggle…God meets you with a miracle
Ann Voscamp recently wrote:
“I don’t want a Christmas you can buy. I don’t want a Christmas you can make. What I want is a Christmas you can hold. A Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me.
I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus.”