Series: Discover Christmas

 “Discover the Surprise of Christmas”

(Matthew 2:1-12)

Rev. Billy d. Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

      Like that Santa, some of us have been desperately trying to grasp the allusive feeling of Christmas. The feelings we remember from younger days and simpler days. Like that Santa Ornament, determined to get those cookies, we go through all sorts of gyrations and antics trying to resurrect Christmases Past because in our memories they feel perfect and unencumbered. But the past is the past, and we’re called to live in the present.

      But Christmas isn’t really about the present (or the presents under the tree. Christmas is about the future. Our future. One filled with hope. One in which we know we are not alone. Christmas is about the future and that surprises people

      Throughout Advent as we’ve prepared our hearts and homes for the Birth of Christ, we’ve talked about the greatest and most perfect gift God has ever given. Through the lighting of candles, decorating the Sanctuary, singing the carols and all those other preparations we’ve made, we’ve reminded ourselves that gift of Christmas came in the Person of Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

      But somehow, some of us always seem to forget.

I. THE GREAT DISCONNECT:

      A.  As a result, many of us live in what I call The Great Disconnect.

      The Great Disconnect is that we don’t connect the dots between Christmas and the future; between Christmas and Easter; between Christmas and the Cross; between Christmas and Salvation, Forgiveness and Redemption. Watch this: I think you’ll see what I mean.

      B. Like the Japanese celebrating Christmas, for some people there is a Great Disconnect. But that Disconnect is not just in or with the STORY of Christmas, it’s with the Author and Creator of Christmas. It’s with the Purpose of Christmas and the Hope it holds for us Now and in the Future.

      The job of the Church is to live as Disciples and make Disciples so we can help others Reconnect not only with the Hope of this season but with the Author of the Season, the very Author of life. God.

II. TIME TO RECONNECT:

      A.  Wise Men from the East got the connection. Somehow, whoever these Wise Men were, Jews from a distant country, astrologers,kings on a spiritual journey, scholars simply learning everything they could, they got the connection.

      King Herod, evil as he was, got the connection. That’s why he told the Wise Men to report back to him. He didn’t want to worship this newborn king. He wanted to destroy this threat to his throne and the power that went with it. Herod could have cared less about the prophecies, except as they pertained to him keeping his power and authority. Like the Santa in the first clip, desperately grabbing onto the candy cane, and desperately seeking the cookies, Herod was desperately trying to hang onto his power and his throne. Matthew describes a portion of their encounter. Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)
[1] In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
[2] asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage."
[3] When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;
[4] and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
[5] They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
[6] 'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
[7] Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.
[8] Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage."
[9] When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.
[10] When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
[11] On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
[12] And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

      B.   Now I don’t want you to think God wants us be anything like Herod, except maybe in the making the connection department, like the Wise Men. But in order to make the Connection with God the way Jesus wants us to, in order to Re-connect both the story and our lives with God, which is the reason He came. We have to separate what the world teaches and practices from what God desires and offers. Here’s what I mean. Watch this:

      Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Santa and all the goodness and joy he represents at Christmas. However, Santa is not the reason for the season. Santa is a byproduct of the celebration of the Season. And we have to make sure that we focus on the gift of God’s Grace that we so desperately need.

      We have to stay focused because the Gift of the Christ Child changes everything. This child changes lives. He offers us the gift of new life. The gift of hope and purpose and direction. And I can honestly say that no other gift I’ve ever received at Christmas has ever done that for me.

CONCLUSION:

      Christmas changes everything and the one thing that it has to change the most is us. That’s God’s desire. Jesus came to help us Connect and Reconnect with God. Jesus came so that we could know just how much God loves us. And just how much God desires the best for us. And how much God promises to be with us and guide us and hold us. If we just Re-Connect or make that Connection for the first time.

      A little girl had somehow received a bad cut in the soft flesh of her eyelid. The doctor knew that some stitches were needed, but he also knew that because of the location of the cut, he shouldn’t use an anesthetic. He talked with the little girl and he told her what he must do… and asked her if she thought she could stand the touch of the needle without jumping. She thought for a moment, and then said simply, “I think I can… if Daddy will hold me while you do it.”

      So the father took his little girl in his lap, steadied her head against his shoulder, and held her tightly in his arms. The surgeon then quickly did his work… and sewed up the cut in her eye-lid… and the little girl did not flinch. She just held on tight to her Father.

      That’s a parable for us in our spiritual lives and a graphic reminder of the Good News of Christmas and part of the reason Jesus came. The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13 writes: I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

      The Surprise of Christmas is the simple fact that it is not a one day event. The Good Will and outreach of love shouldn’t and can’t end with the Christmas Season. This is just the season when it’s born and renewed each year. Surprisingly, our call is to let it grow in everything we do, in every attitude we have, in every relationship we develop. The days after Christmas are the time when the Hope and the Promise of the season begin to season the world around us like a good spice.

      And remember, Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. So, our charge is to Season the world with the presence of Christ in our lives.

 

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

________________________________

 

Bibliography

1.   

2.   

3.   

4.   

 

Other References Consulted