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Where is God This Christmas?

Christmas Message from Christ the King’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Where is God This Christmas?  As Mayan calendars make humans across the world look silly and make God look absent, we’re left to wonder Where is God This Christmas?

Crazed shooters are walking into movie theaters, Amish communities, and schools with guns blazing.  Innocent lives, even innocent little children, are being massacred for no good reason.  Where is God This Christmas?

Meanwhile the unrest and slaughter around the world increase, too.  Tribal warfare in Africa, Christian persecution in the Middle East and Far East, nuclear weapons transactions—these things are only getting worse.  Where is God This Christmas?

Our country is battling through financial times so terrible only the Great Depression was worse.  Those once wealthy and comfortable are now poor and scraping to get by.  Those with good jobs now are reduced to menial labor.  Those with bright futures now don’t even want to know what tomorrow brings.  Where is God This Christmas?

Look closely, friends.  You won’t find God in million dollar winning lottery tickets.  You won’t find God in the number of zeros in your bank account.  You won’t find God in military defense systems.  You won’t find God in the White House.  You won’t find God on the internet.

Look closely.  Look in a place where you absolutely would not expect.  Look in a stable where a young maiden, a curious carpenter, and simple shepherds are surrounded by lowing oxen.  Look amidst them all in a tiny little manger.  There we see a newborn child with an incredible name—Immanuel, which means, “God with us.”

This is God’s modus operandi.  He comes to us with great power in humble and unexpected ways.  We see him lying in a manger.  We see him riding on a donkey into Jerusalem.  We see him dying on a cross.  We see him buried in a tomb.

It leaves us to wonder:  Where is God in all this?  Yet while the manger, the cross, and the tomb don’t look like much, through these things our mighty God came to live for us, forgave all our sins, and won for us eternal life in heaven.  God used the most humble of means to accomplish the most marvelous of miracles—our salvation.

Today God still comes to us in humble means to accomplish marvelous miracles.  We see our God pouring out his power and his might through his holy Word, the Bible.  There he reveals to us his plan of salvation and his will for our lives.  There he reveals to us that though kingdoms, countries, and economies may fail, he is always with us.  There he reveals that no ancient calendar will ever predict the end of the world because only he knows the day and the hour.  There in his Word he reveals to us that though we are traumatized by wars and school shootings and hatred and sicknesses and diseases and cancer, he will still work all things for our good according to his loving plans.

This Christmas don’t look to Christmas lights or Christmas presents or holiday cheer to find joy or to find answers.  Look to the manger, the cross, and the tomb.  There we see our Savior God in action, taking away our sins and opening wide the doors heaven.  Then look to God’s holy Word where learn how our Savior works in our lives in mysterious yet loving ways today.

This Christmas in the manger, at the cross, in the tomb, in the Word we find an answer to our question.  Where is God This Christmas?  Friends, his name is Immanuel.  God is with us!  Today and always.

AMEN

A New Member of the Family

Christmas Message from Christ the King’s Christmas Eve Family Service

Ah, the joy of welcoming A New Member of the Family.  The excitement leading up to it is extraordinary.  So many preparations to be made!  What doctors do you choose?  What hospital do you choose?  Do they have a TV, refrigerator, and free WIFI access in the delivery room?  When will labor start?  Will we make it to the hospital in time?  (Ask me some time later about the story of my wife barely walking into the hospital only to have a child in her arms within 31 minutes!)

Then there is the actual labor and delivery.  So much pain with such great reward!  You’re holding a beautiful new human being in your arms!  What do you name the child?  Is the child healthy?  Did it have to start crying already?

Then there is the adjustment to living with a new member of the family.  If it’s the first child it’s treated like royalty (for a while).  If it’s a sibling then everyone has to adjust to life with another child in the house.

Yet with all the hassle and hustle in adding A New Member of the Family, the joy of that new child, that new sibling, cannot be explained.  Moms cry for joy.  Dads sometimes even cry for joy and buy cigars for all their friends.  Text messages and Facebook pictures fly out as fast as fingers can type.  Everyone passes on the good news—a child is born.

Things were a lot different for Mary and Joseph.  No select, top-notch doctors.  No doctors or nurses at all!  No hi-tech hospitals with spotless delivery rooms and a Neo NIC unit on call.  An animal stable was the delivery location.  No incubators or billi-beds.  A manger was the first cradle.  No Facebook or Twitter or texting.  A few barnyard animals and some scrubby shepherds were the first witnesses.

A very humble scene, yet the joy of adding A New Member of the Family was still beyond extraordinary.  Even the shepherds ran off to Go Tell It On the Mountain.  They spread the word about this child and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

So tonight we stand in such great awe and such great joy at the addition of this new member of the family.  But it’s not just because of the unusual circumstances or setting of this birth.  It’s not just because Mary gave birth without an epidural (though that always is impressive).  We stand in awe and are filled with joy this evening because we have A New Member of the Family.

This child born in such a lowly and humble way was actually our great and mighty God.  This child would go on to live a holy and perfect life—something we fail to do every single day.  Not one sin, not ever.  It was the perfect life we needed to take our place.  But this holy God in human flesh would also go on to do the unimaginable—die for all of our sins.  With his death our mighty God conquered death and the devil and forgave all of our sins.

By this life and death for us, Jesus made possible an unthinkable miracle—he made us to be children of God.  Through Jesus, we are new members of God’s family!

So this Christmas we are filled with extraordinary excitement and joy.  We peer into this manger and see this beautiful baby, born so meek and so mild.  What a joy to see a new child enter this world!  But even greater, this sweet child lying in a manger is no ordinary baby.  Rejoice this Christmas, for this child is A New Member of the Family!  He is our God, our Savior, and thus now our brother, Jesus Christ.

AMEN

A Special Gift with Special Names

Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Message

Text:  Matthew 1:18-25

“That’s not what I wanted dad!”  “Yes it is, son.  You wanted a new pair of blue shorts for Christmas.”  “Yeah.  But I wanted Nike shorts, dad.  These are made by Target.”

“Mom!  I didn’t want a doll for Christmas.  I wanted a Barbie doll for Christmas!  Argh!  It’s not the same!”

Isn’t it amazing how finicky and fickle children can become when it comes to Christmas presents?  Rather than being thankful that they receive any gifts at all, they can become demanding for special gifts with special names.  It can’t be any old hand held video game.  It has to be a Nintendo DS.  It can’t be any old toy or puzzle. It has to be made by Mattel or the Disney Corporation.  And don’t even dare buying a car unless it’s Lightning McQueen or an action figure if it’s not Buzz Lightyear!

But do we change when we become older?  Somehow we think shoes won’t run as fast if they aren’t Nikes.  Meat won’t taste as good if it’s Walmart Big Value brand and not Boar’s Head or Oscar Mayer.  And I’m still trying to figure out how my wife can try to convince me a purse will hold things better if it has the name Gucci or Prada.  Read the rest of this entry

Sing With the Angels on Christmas

Christmas Message on Christmas Eve

What would Christmas be without singing?  Who doesn’t like Christmas songs?  Chestnuts roasting on the open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your noseI’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on meWe wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, and a Happy New YearJingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.  Whether its Bing Crosby, Josh Groban, or some other pop icon belting the classics, Christmas music puts you in the mood for family, for food, and for fun.

Of course, we love to sing in church on Christmas, too.  What would Christmas be if we didn’t sing Oh, come, all ye faithful, Away in a manger, Hark the herald angels sing, or Silent night?  These Christian hymns are so popular that even secular artists sing them at Christmas.  We do too.  Most people can’t wait to sing their favorites and then to hold a candle at the end of worship while singing Silent night.  What would Christmas be without singing?

I suppose it is appropriate that music and singing are such important parts of Christmas . . . Read the rest of this entry