larval baby jesus
Image by Dane Larsen via Flickr

On a past weekend (12/18-12/21), we went to church 2x’s.  Yes I am bit on the overachieving side, but not usually when it comes to listening to sermons while sitting in the pew (or other uncomfortable chair).  Friday night was our usual Seward Church gathering and on Sunday we went to Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, which is where my wonderful wife went to church growing up. Last Monday I shared the message from Seward Church, so today is the one from The Crossing.

Steve Rennick shared the Christmas story for us, starting with Luke 2:1-20. Luke gives a special emphasis to the shepherds and the angels in the Christmas Story.  The shepherds were minding their own business in the field when out of no where came a ton of shiny angels (vs 8-14) where they were told that they shouldn’t be afraid of the angels.  The angels delievered the good news and the shepherds immediately travelled into Bethleham trying to find this baby Jesus upon their arrival they worshipped Him.

Knowing that Christmas is incomplete, the next stop is Matthew 2:1-12. The baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem which fulfills the prophesy in Micah 5:2. Steve pointed out that the entirety of Luke’s Christmas story, all 20 verses of it, fits into 1/2 a verse in Matthew 2:1 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod.”  We traditionally think of their being 3 Magi and 3 shepherds, but there is no Biblical truth to this matter.  We get the number 3 because of the three gifts that were brought, but in reality it could have been hundreds of Magi.  Another Christmas misconception or at least a nativity misconception is that the Magi and the shepherds visited the manger at the same time.  In reality the Magi came at a later date and met the family of Jesus at a home (vs 11).  The three gifts gold, frankincense, and myrrh were ultimately used to fund the family’s “exile” in Egypt. Some of these thoughts are new and insightful to me.

A third perspective on the Christmas story come from John 1:1-5, 9-14. If you are familiar with the John story, you know it is a very different perspective on the coming of Jesus.  Steve called it a more theological or upper perspective.  It could be the God view of the story.  It tells it straight up with no sugar – Jesus, the Good News, has come into a dark world to shine light and bring peace.

The final and shortest part of the Christmas story is from Mark 1:1. It offers no information other than that Jesus represents the beginning of many good works!

What is the point of sharing the Christmas Story? It is important to realize the truth of the story (much like looking at the darkside) but it is also important to realize that Jesus represented, as Mark says, the beginning of the good news and many good works. We know that Jesus performed many great works during his 33 years on Earth.  Steve was sharing the story to offer us a challenge.  Jesus could easily fill many libraries full of books on his 33 years (John 20:30-31, 21:25), yet Steve implied that Jesus is still working and acting today – through us.  He asked several times what John 22 might look like if it were written about us…

We are a part of the Gospel story – not the canonized version – but the ongoing story of good news and salvation.  Can we obey God’s desires and serve Him?  Steve challenged us to ask ourselves this question as we prepare for 2009:

God, what do you want to do through me, what do you want to do to me, and  what do you want to do in my life?

He suggested we dream big and set no limits, just wait, pray, and see where God takes you.  It is an interesting connection, using the Christmas story to challenge us for the beginning of 2009. I have trouble recalling it and tying it all together but you can listen to it here (sometime soon).

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