DECEMBER 24, 2008

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            What pops into your mind when you think about Christmas?  Brightly colored lights?  Presents under the tree?  The manger?  Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” or Nat King Cole crooning, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire?”  Or maybe when you think of Christmas it’s children wearing robes in Christmas pageants or crowded shopping malls or Jack Frost “nipping at your nose.”  When I think of Christmas, I think of all those things, but most of all I think about stories.

            For example, I think of funny stories like the story of the man whose wife hadn’t spoken to him since last Christmas.  When asked why his wife stopped talking to him he said, “I asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she said, ‘Oh, just surprise me.’  So I did.  At 3:00 A.M on Christmas morning, I leaned over to her and shouted, “Boo!”

            Then there are stories concerning children at Christmas like the story of five year old Billy who was showing his Christmas presents to his grandmother.  As he did, she asked him, “Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?”  Billy thought for a moment and answered, “No, I didn’t Grandma, but it’s OK.  It wasn’t MY birthday.”

            Or the story of the little tyke who, the day after Christmas, had taken the baby Jesus from a creche at a church in San Francisco.  The pastor of the church was looking over the creche when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures.  Immediately, the turned and went outside and and saw a little boy with a red wagon.  In the wagon was the baby Jesus from the church’s creche.  So the pastor walked up to the boy and asked, “Well, where did you get the baby Jesus, my fine friend?”

            The little boy replied, “I got him from the church.”

            “And why did you take him?”  asked the pastor.

            The boy said, “Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride around the block in it.”

            Then, of course, there is THE STORY.  Christmas would not be complete without it.  Remember how it goes?  In the second chapter of Luke’s gospel we read,


            In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered.  Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.  He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.


            Whenever I read that story I wonder how much room I am making for Christ in my life.  Sometimes I find myself not doing much better than the innkeeper on that very first Christmas.

            And then there are our stories.  Our stories of how Christ was born in our own lives.  What were the events surrounding the birth of Christ in your life?  Where did it take place?  Who played a part in the birth?  Was it slow birth, a long labor?  Or was it sudden, quick?  You know, I wish we had time tonight to share those stories with one another, of how Christ was born in our own lives.  We don’t but I wish we did.  I wish I could hear all your stories tonight.

            For some of you, I’m sure you would tell us how your family of origin played a huge roll in the birth of Christ in your life.  You were fortunate enough to be raised in a Christian family, and you came out of the womb, yourself, believing in Christ, but it was your family that nurtured that birth.  Others will talk about a grandmother or grandfather whom you loved and who loved you, and you would notice their worn out bible, and the life they led, and you wanted to be like them, you wanted what they had, and that’s how Christ was born in your life.  Others of you will talk about a church camp, or a youth group, or a friend who loved you into the Kingdom of God.  Others of you tonight may say, “Hey, he hasn’t yet.  I would like him to be be, but he hasn’t yet been born in my life,” and that’s OK.  Many of us have been in that very place ourselves, and our prayer for you is you will experience the joy of the birth, sometime, someday in your own life.

            Let me suggest that tonight or tomorrow you ask the people you love the most, “Hey, as we celebrate Christmas, and the birth of Christ, I would like to know when Christ was born in your life.  I would love to hear your story.  When did it happen?  Who played a significant roll in that process?”  Ask the people you love, that question, and listen to their answers.  Listen to their stories.  You will not be disappointed.

            To us this day a child is born, a savior, the Messiah.