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Home Church Planting/Missional Rewriting God’s script for Christmas

Rewriting God’s script for Christmas

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Rewriting God’s script for Christmas What has Christ got to do with it? - Luke 2:1-20 The movie “Beneath hill 60” is based on the true story of Australian miners in the first world war whose job was to dig tunnels under German lines and blow them up, the most famous being the explosions along the ridge of Messeines in Belgium. But the producers, by their own admission, had to do a lot of work on the original story - changing things around, cutting out, adding in - generally reworking the original story into a movie that would have popular appeal. Essentially the same thing has happened to God’s original script on Christmas. It is pretty hard to see Christ in Christmas because the original story has been reworked at so many points to make it appealing to a wide audience. We need sentimentality not boring history. So let’s make it Disney-like by playing up the cute baby shots in a neat trough, with a few cute animals as well. The story needs to move faster so let’s merge scenes and have the wise men, shepherds, and angels together. The story needs a less religious, broader appeal, so let’s add new characters - little drummer boy, santa, talking snowmen, reindeers - and link it to the Northern Hemisphere winter by adding snow and a pine Christmas tree and coloured lights. But if you are in Australia you can still keep the snow and pine tree but add shorts, thongs, prawns and a BBQ. And let’s drop the fact that baby Jesus is a king - this concept only threatens people and would be unpopular. And it’s best to cut God's original ending of Jesus' death and resurrection - death is far too negative for Christmas story and resurrection is just too hard to believe.- If it’s going to sell the main lesson of Christmas needs to be a feel good story so let’s change the focus to family and being nice and being happy and giving presents. And top it all off with plenty of sweet little blonde-haired girls playing angels with halo's, tinsel braided into their hair, white dresses, wings with fake feathers and glitter, and maybe even a magic wand in their hands. Now, with all that we finally have a story we can market to pretty well everyone. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. But not Christmas as God’s script reveals it, and that is what I want to take you back to for the next few minutes. First, Christmas is about Jesus coming into his world. Luke writes about the birth of Jesus as historical fact, tied to the Roman census in the time of Quirinius, the military commander of the Roman province of Syria. But since Christmas is now blended with all sorts of fairy tales, the danger is that we think the story of Jesus is just a nice fairy tale for our children, and not to be taken seriously. Christianity is built on the historical fact that God came into his own world through a real birth process, in real time, and as a real person called Jesus. If this is not true then Christianity collapses as the world’s worst ever conspiracy. But if it is true, the birth of Jesus almost 2000 years ago changed everything in our world. Second, the person of Jesus is central, not the circumstances of his birth. The sign which is meant only to confirm the truth, has become the main focus in the popular view of Christmas. But in Luke’s account the circumstances of the birth are a non-event, except to emphasise that Mary’s real pregnancy came full-term and a real birth resulted in a real baby. The birth of Jesus is not cause for wild sentimentality. The circumstance of his birth was totally ordinary, but he was totally extra-ordinary and unique. It is not the baby idea which defines Christmas and Christianity, but the identity of Jesus and the amazing fact, that God came into his own world to establish his rule over you and me. Third, Jesus is God’s good news to the world. The shepherds are terrified by the appearance of an angel. But the angel tells them not to be afraid because his job was to announce good news of great joy to all the people. This good news, verse 11, is tied to the identity of this baby, unique among the thousands of babies born around the world on the same night. These titles would have been familiar to the Jews in Luke’s time because they come from the first part of the Bible, the Old Testament. But we need some help to understand. For centuries God had promised he would send a special person called The Messiah or The Christ, who would act to sort out the mess caused by sin, which is the term the Bible uses to describe people’s rebellion against God and refusal to live under his authority. With the birth of Jesus God has delivered on his promise. God’s rescuer had arrived. And his success is guaranteed because he is God. Only God has the authority to forgive sin, the power to change us from the inside out, and the power to fix the mess that is our world. The news is good, both because of what he came to do, and his credentials to do it. But even better news yet, Jesus has been born ‘to you’. That such good news should be announced first to shepherds would have been absolutely shocking in Luke’s time. Shepherds were the lowest of the low in society - religious and social fringe dwellers and rednecks, dirty, smelly and rough as. The lesson is clear. Jesus identifies with ordinary people who have no hope of being acceptable to God on their own account. How good is that God’s great king and saviour is so different from what we expect from important people. He is happy to hang out with those who have nothing going for them. And all of this good news, verse 13-14, prompts the whole of heaven to break into songs of praise to God. Heaven had waited for this defining moment for centuries. So, when we get back to God’s script for Christmas, what does God want us to see? On the one hand, the fact that God goes to great lengths to send his son into this world as a saviour to us, tells us that we really need a saviour. So, the heart of the challenge of Christmas is that we need to see ourselves as needy people before God. But this is tricky because naturally we think the opposite. We look at the good things we do and conclude that overall we can be acceptable to God by our own efforts. And as a result many folk see Jesus as totally irrelevant instead of being the best news the world has ever heard. And on the other hand, you simply need to welcome God’s good news and respond personally in new obedience to his word and trusting him to do for you what you cannot do for yourself – deal with your sin, make you acceptable to God and secure a place in heaven. So make sure you don’t allow the modern add-ons to Christmas to cause you to miss the challenge of what you are going to do with King Jesus. He’s the man you can’t ignore.

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