Why Christmas?

What does this event from more than 2000 years ago mean in our lives today?

Read Luke 2 here.

Listen here:

Sometimes, when my husband Rob and I are watching a TV show or a movie, something will happen that doesn’t make sense to me or seems like the wrong thing to do, and I’ll look over at Rob and ask, “Why did they do that?”  I’m thinking maybe I’ve missed something in an earlier scene that would answer my question, and hoping he’s been able to see what I missed.

But by now, I should know better than to ask him, because more often than not, his answer will be, “Because the script said so.”  Of course it did.  Unless we’re watching reality TV, whatever happens is because a writer decided it should be that way, and who can fathom the mind of a writer? There’s no point in asking, “Why?”

But if you’ve spent any time with a three-year-old, you’ve heard this question to death.  A three-year-old can ask “Why?” a million times a day, and there are never enough answers to make them stop.

As kids get older, the questions get more complicated. My seven-year-old granddaughter asked me just the other night, “Why are we here?”  So I took a deep breath, and began, “Long ago, before the beginning of time, God made the world…”

And she said, “No, Grandma!  Why are we in this parking garage instead of in front of the airport terminal? Are we lost?”

It was a legitimate question, considering we’d already circled the airport twice and gotten lost, but at that moment we were right where we needed to be so we could stop circling and go inside and find my mother, whose plane had just landed.

Sometimes life can seem a lot like our trip to the airport, lots of circling around and getting lost.  Or maybe just the last few days getting ready for Christmas have been like that, as if all of life revolved around getting ready for tonight, or for tomorrow morning.  And maybe in the middle of all the circling and chaos, you’ve asked the same question.  “Why?”  Why do we make all this fuss about Christmas?

Why Christmas?   Of course, the short answer is Jesus, and I, like many of you, have a sign we put up with our Christmas decorations that says, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”  But what does that really mean?  Why does that matter?

Long ago, before the beginning of time, God made the world, and wrote the story of our lives.  So I have a question for you . . .

What if your entire life was about getting to this particular moment right now?

Jesus is here right now in the midst of us.  Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, but it’s easy to ignore him, and easy to miss what God’s doing in our lives.  Looking back, though, we can see things we didn’t see while they were happening. When we’re in the middle of a situation, we’re focused on dealing with the situation, but afterwards we can look back and see things we missed.  That’s why we say that hindsight is 20/20.  In hindsight, we can see what God was doing.

When Jesus was born that night in Bethlehem, most of the world didn’t even know it had happened. 

  • It wasn’t until after Jesus died and was resurrected thirty-three years later that people began to realize how much his birth mattered.
  • It wasn’t until more than 300 years later that people started celebrating his birth,[1] and
  • it wasn’t until 600 years later that people started counting the years as BC, before Christ, and AD, anno domini or the year of our Lord.[2]
  • Now we’ve changed to CE, common era, and BCE, before common era, but the dividing line is still the year Jesus was born because Jesus’ birth was the year everything changed.

It just took some time to for people to realize what that meant.

In the days after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, the disciples spent a lot of time looking back at what the scriptures had said about the Messiah, and remembering what Jesus had said about what he had come to do.

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17)

Jesus also said, “I came to seek and save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Jesus came to bring us reconciliation with God, forgiveness and grace, so that we might know the joy of living our lives with Jesus at the center.  C.S. Lewis put it this way: The son of God became a man to enable us to become children of God.[3] –C.S. Lewis

God wanted us to know how much he loves us.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Eph 1:5

Jesus, Emmanuel, came to bring us salvation so that we could know and enjoy God’s presence in our lives.

Jesus said, “I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20). He’s right here, right now.

When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the central event in the history of the world.

  • This is what the story of the world is all about.
  • This is what the Bible is all about.
  • This is what Christmas is all about.[4]

We’ve sung familiar carols, and we’ve read the words from the Bible. If you’ve watched the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, you know these words are even quoted there by Linus.  They’re familiar, so it’s easy for them to be meaningless words that we say and sing without thinking much about them.  Just like it’s easy for life to seem like a lot of running around in circles.

Sometimes it takes some time for us to see what God has been doing in our lives. We need to stop, like Mary did, and take the time to ponder all that we have seen and heard, to look back and see how God has brought us to where we are right now.  It may not be where you want to be, but God wo ‘t leave you there, and you aren’t there alone.

What if your entire life was about getting to this particular moment right now?

Jesus is here.  Right now.

And he’ll move heaven and earth to help us know how much he loves us.

Why Christmas?  Because of Jesus.

God has given us the most amazing gift, very thing we most need, perfect love, and all we need to do is accept it, to say “yes.”

So, let’s pray…God.  Thank you for our lives, and thank you for bringing us to this moment right now.  Thank you for the amazing gift of your son.  Thank you for loving us so much. Yes, I want to know more about you.  Yes, I want you to be the center of my life.  Yes, I want to do what you’ve been leading me to do.  Yes, I want you to be in control of all of my life.

Amen.

[1] https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/christ-is-born

[2] https://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/time7.htm

[3] Adapted from C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity to make it gender inclusive.  Original quote said, “The son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”

[4] Idea comes from ‘Why Christmas?” by Nicky Gumbel who is quoting C.S. Lewis. https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/alpharesources/WhyChristmas-download.pdf

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