For the last four weeks, through this season of advent, we have been preparing our hearts and looking to this moment to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Merry Christmas everyone.
I am so honored to share this Christmas with all of you. Whether this is your first time joining us, online or in person, or this is your church home… let me be the first to say, welcome to our island of misfit toys.
If this is your first time, let me get something out of the way up front. We’re all misfits here. Not a single person in this room has it all together.
Turn to the person on your right and say, “you’re a misfit." Turn to the person on your left and say, “so are you."
Now that we’re all on the same page, I want to talk for a few minutes about a king who would step down from his throne for misfits like you and me... misfits who are all in a season of waiting.
We’re all waiting for something… last minute packages, big things, small things, serious things, goofy things.
And, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle… in the midst of wondering what you’ll get for Christmas… in the midst of wondering how long this service will be…
In the midst of waiting and wondering if things will ever change… in the midst of everything we’re all going through… my deepest desire is that all of you will find HOPE.
A HOPE that can’t be shaken regardless of what you’re going through.
Because let’s just be honest, not everyone gets excited about this time of year. There are many of our friends and family in our community that this time of year is hard.
It reminds them of how alone they are. It reminds them of how much they don’t have. It reminds them how forgotten they are.
As some kids can’t wait for Christmas break, there are many others that dread Christmas break. Because Christmas break means no school. And no school means no food. No school means being at home and living in the midst of unhealth, abuse, and neglect.
For every incredible, joy-filled Christmas story… there are many other heartbreaking stories.
My hope is no matter what your story is right now you will allow Jesus into your story.
Because He is the only one who can bring HOPE to any story.
Psalm 62:5-8 says, "Yes, my soul finds rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."
This is the HOPE we read about at Christmas.
The story of Jesus intertwining His story with our story.
It’s pretty normal to hear the story of Jesus’ birth at a church service on Christmas Eve, so this year, I thought we would mix things up a bit. I’m gonna need all the misfits in the room to help me this year.
It’s audience participation day. Just go along with it, it makes the service go by faster. You’ll be sipping on grandma’s spiked egg nog in no time.
As I read the story of the birth of Jesus… here’s who needs to say what:
When I say "JESUS" – (kids say) “I’m the King of the world.”
When I say "MARY"- (ladies say) “I am highly favored.”
When I say "JOSEPH" - (guys say) “I’m a righteous man.”
When I say "ANGEL" – (kids say) “Glory to God”
When I say "SHEPHERDS" – (10-18 year olds say) “Aaaaahh”
Are you ready…? Here we go…
This is how JESUS the Messiah was born. His mother, MARY, was engaged to be married to JOSEPH. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
JOSEPH, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an ANGEL of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “JOSEPH, son of David,” the ANGEL said, “do not be afraid to take MARY as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him JESUS, for he will save his people from their sins.”
When JOSEPH woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took MARY as his wife.
The time came for MARY’S baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son, JESUS. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
That night there were SHEPHERDS staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
When the ANGELS had returned to heaven, the SHEPHERDS said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found MARY and JOSEPH. And there was JESUS, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the SHEPHERDS told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the SHEPHERDS’ story were astonished, 19 but MARY kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
And that is the Christmas story!
In the most unexpected and extraordinary way, HOPE was born in a manger. This is what we celebrate. We give thanks and worship a King who stepped down from His throne to bring Hope to a broken world. This is who Jesus is.
He didn’t come into this world to judge it, but to save it.
He came to this world so that we have life and live it to the fullest.
Jesus said he didn’t come for those that think they are righteous, but for those who are a mess, and know they’re a mess, and are looking for help to heal.
He came for misfits like you and me.
He came to turn the world upside down. To give strength to the weak. To give power to the powerless. To break the chains of the oppressed and care for the marginalized, least and lost.
He came so that we may have HOPE and not despair.
This is who Jesus is.
This is our King. This is who is in the manger.
Is this who YOU see when you look at your nativity scenes at home?
Do you see King Jesus in the manager or 7lb 7oz baby Jesus in his golden fleece diaper? Because…
Who you see in the manger is who you put on the throne of your life.
Too often, too many people don’t know WHO Jesus is… especially if they’ve only heard about him at Christmas.
If all people know about Jesus is he’s the baby we celebrate at Christmas… why would any sane person dedicate their lives to him?
That’d be crazy, right, because if all we choose to see is a baby in a manger and not a King, we are choosing despair. Listen, I love babies… they’re signs of new life and new beginnings.
But Boss Baby didn’t save the world… King Jesus did. Babies are bossy… needy… demanding… controlling… dictating every last ounce of life you have left. Moms… am I wrong?
If Christmas for you is a baby in a manger… you’re gonna be ruled by a world that is bossy, demanding, and controlling, and one that poops all over you.
Too many people are stuck in a cycle of despair because they still see a baby in a manger and not a King who can change your world.
It’s time to see Jesus for who He really is.
He is King, the Messiah, the author and perfecter of our faith… he is our mighty counselor and prince of peace.
He is a chain-breaking, life-changing, HOPE dealing savior of the world.This is who Jesus is. This is who we celebrate on this day… He came… so that each of us may have HOPE.
And through him… nothing is impossible.
This is Jesus. This is who we celebrate and he is worthy of our praise.
Who do you see in the manger? A baby or a King?
In the midst of all the NOISE the world has added to Christmas… more than anything, I want you to know the quiet and profound truth that Jesus loves you. No matter what. There’s nothing you can do to make him love you any more or less.
He was sent to earth to be born as a baby, to grow as a man, to live a sinless life, to die on a cross for our sins, and be resurrected to offer anyone who places their faith in Him, salvation and purpose for this life and the next.
This is who Jesus is. This is who we celebrate on this day. He came so that each of us may have HOPE.