God Has Come
December 24, 2017
Merry Christmas! The day is almost here. Merry Christmas!
What does Christmas mean to you? For some Christmas might mean Santa – what Santa is going to bring – toys and candy and all the things a child can imagine. That vision of Christmas can excite us. For others Christmas might mean shopping – getting gifts to give — trying to pick out a “perfect gift” for a friend or loved one. That vision of Christmas can tire us. For others it might mean family gatherings and good times together. This vision of Christmas is – for the most part – one that warms our hearts. For many Christmas might mean decorations – houses with bright lights and decorated trees – and these days even decorated yards complete with lights shaped into statues of deer of larger than life inflatable Santas or snowmen.
What does Christmas mean to you? I suspect Christmas mean a combination of things to you. I know it does for me.
When I was growing up Christmas was an exciting, magical time. Being the youngest I kept the excitement and wonder of Christmas longer than my older sisters. My family would always go to Charlotte to see “The Singing Christmas Tree” – a wonderful choir singing from a Christmas Tree shaped platform. We would then go out to eat – and maybe go to see the lights – not to mention the sights of sounds – of downtown Charlotte – complete with store windows at Belk’s and Ivey’s department stores decorated with animated Santas, elves, and the like. I was always enthralled with downtown Charlotte at Christmas. About a week before Christmas I would get a phone call from Santa. That would be a highlight of the season for me. On Christmas Eve we would go to Church – then come home and get ready for bed. We would put out cookies and cokes for Santa and each of the reindeer – including, of course, Rudolph. It would seem like the longest night of the year – until finally Christmas day would dawn – and my sisters and I would bound into the Living Room to see what Santa had left us. For me it would usually be a cowboy hat and pistol – or an electric train – or an electric football game – or a ball. One year I got a Rocking Horse on springs that I rode and rode. By late afternoon when the house was a wreck and everyone exhausted it would be time to go to my Grandmother’s house for the “family gathering” – complete with cousins and other folks you didn’t know. My memories of Christmas are a combination of sights – sounds – and emotions. Yours probably are, too.
But – what does Christmas mean to you? Increasingly – for me – Christmas has come to mean a celebration of God’s love – and the wonderful fact that God has come into our world through Christ – and continues to come into our world. Christmas is a celebration of love. A celebration of God’s love – a love so great that God did not let us die in sin but provided salvation for us through Jesus Christ – this baby in the manger who became an adult on the cross – and who died for our sins and yet rose again so we can have everlasting life. Christmas is a celebration of God’s coming into our lives through Jesus Christ.
Irenaeus – a Christian leader from the first century – put it this way:
“The Son of God became a son of man – so that the sons and daughters of men could become sonsand daughters of God’
What a beautiful – wonderful thought that is. The thought that God would become like us – so we can become like Him.
I believe that the coming of God into our world through Christ tells us a lot about God. God does not let us die in our sins without the opportunity for salvation.
God does not leave us in our suffering and sorrow of this life. God does not abandon us in the hardest and harshest times of our lives. No – in the hardest and harshest times – God comes. God comes with hope and with new possibilities.
Look at our Old Testament passage from Isaiah.
The people of Israel were in the worst of times. Jerusalem was a wasteland and the people in Babylon. But Isaiah saw that – even in the midst of such destruction and waste and hopelessness – God would come – and rebuild. Jerusalem would be a great city again – because God would come. The good news the angels brought to the shepherds on that first Christmas night was the news that their lives as the poorest of the poor in a country occupied by the Roman army could be different. God had come – Christ had been born – and all things could be different.
The good news God brings to us today is that – even in the midst of the tragedies of our lives – the times when things seem to be the lowest they can be – times of war and violence – times of economic distress and joblessness – times when children go hungry while adults do what they want – times when poverty is rampant — times when despair and depression want to grab us and not let us go – even in all these times and despite all these things – God has come – Christ has been born – things can be different. The news of Christmas is good news – Christ has been born – God has come! Christmas means that God has come! In the midst of our lives – God has come – and God continues to come and to work in our lives and in our world for His will for salvation and love and justice and healing. Christmas means that God comes into our lives. God comes into our world. God comes with hope and healing and love and grace. That’s the message of Christmas. Friends – that is what Christmas is really all about.
Sure – Santa and gifts and decorations and family are all a part of what Christmas is all about – but beyond all these things – Christmas is all about God – who comes into our lives and into our world and changes them with His great love.
God comes. God comes into our lives. Whatever situations we may find ourselves in – God comes. God comes into our world – whatever situations there may be.
God comes. Realize it. Claim it. Share it with others. Make a difference for God’s glory in the lives of others. Be God’s instruments of love and grace and a different way to live in the lives of those who need to experience God’s love – God’s grace – and the difference God can make in the world.
You know –when we share God’s love and God’s will with others – we experience it again for ourselves. The Son of God became a son of man – so that the sons and daughters of men could become sons and daughters of God.
God comes. That’s what Christmas means. God comes.
As you worship this morning –and tomorrow as you celebrate Christmas day -=- celebrate the fact that God comes to make a difference in this world – and be strengthened so you can make a difference for God in the world.