“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
We just saw how our children presented this play. Our new generation. You remember, once you were a new generation. Many of you have taken part in plays like this one. You can still remember dressing for the play, feels or costumes, smells of candles, sounds of carols.
Warm memories. Family memories. Childhood memories. These are kind of memories which you carry with you till the end of your life. Warm, filled with love and peace and joy.
But then… then you grow up. Yes, and this is who we are – grownups, adults. We grow up and begin to question stories. We don’t believe them anymore as we believed when we were children.
And … this is good. This is so good! This is exactly what I want to encourage you today. Grow up, stop believing stories, go and check facts, go and check the history, use your reason, employ your critical thinking.
Have you ever thought about the celebration of Christmas – is this story real? Did it really happen? For, if all of this is not about a real event, then are what are we doing here? What kind of strange gathering is this?
Let’s talk a little bit as adults. Let’s use our judgment. We just heard several historical facts. Do you know who the Caesar Augustus was? Sure we know. He was Roman emperor, born in 63BC, died 14AD. We have his statues and money and pictures. We know a lot about him.
Do you know who Quirinius was? Yes, sure we know, he was Roman senator, sent to be a governor in Syria, in one of provinces of Roman empire, with a certain purpose, to oversee the census on behalf of the emperor Augustus.
Do we know where Nazareth is? Sure we do. Do we know where Bethlehem is? Sure we do. There is the church of Nativity in Bethlehem, roughly at the same place where Jesus was born.
I would encourage you, go and see for yourself. It is worth doing it. Helps you to learn our history and appreciate truthfulness of Biblical message.
Do we know where is the place where the angels appeared to the shepherds? We can’t pin point exact place, but we know approximate location, 1km north east from Bethlehem.
You may wonder, why am I telling you all of this. It’s very simple. So that we as adults could understand that all of this is for real. Our Christmas story is not a story. It is our history, the most important part of our history.
Jesus was and is as real as you are. He was born. He lived among us. He suffered and was crucified. He died and … He rose again. Yes, He did. Then more than 500 eyewitnesses saw Him after His resurrection.
Most of them were alive when the New Testament was written. Jesus Christ was and is for real. There are no reasonable doubt about it. And by what He did He showed that He indeed was who He claimed to be, the Son of God.
The One who has authority and power to bend the laws of creation, even life and death according to His will. He has control over them.
But, if all happened exactly as the Bible testifies about it. Why? Why would God become a man? As one of us? If He is the Creator, why would He become a creature? The reason is very strange. I admit. It is confusing.
It would be difficult to believe if Jesus Christ Himself didn’t explain it to us. And the reason was – He did it for you. Yes. Not only for you collectively, but for each of you. And by each I mean each of you.
He did it for little ones, and for those who are old. For those who are rich and for those who have nothing. For high achievers and for those who society consider losers. For the healthy and for the sick.
For those who think they are perfect, and for those who know they have fallen short. For open sinners, and those who sin secretly. For those who care only about themselves, and those who care for others.
For those who have hurt others, and for those who have been hurt. For those who feel guilty, and for those who feel abused. For His enemies and for His friends … basically for each of you, whatever you have been and are.
He came to be with us, with you, so that He can have you with Him. For He knows you, He knows exactly what kind of person you are now. He knows all your thought, all your desires, even all the things which you would like to hide.
It may be scary… yes, but He didn’t come to judge you. He knows what He can create from you by His forgiving and renewing word and Spirit. Obviously He knows about us something that we don’t. And this allows Him to respect and appreciate each of you so much. I know it is difficult to believe.
That God the Creator would become a man for the sake of whom… of me, of you… who are we?! Right? But this is exactly what kind of God He is. He is not looking for someone special.
He makes each of you the most special person by His love. He wants to make you into the best you possible. He can do it. That’s what He does the best. You may not believe what I say, and I can’t persuade you.
But this is what Jesus Christ Himself says. He wants to be with you. With each of you. Not only here, but He wants you in His presence, when this world is renewed and restored in its goodness. Forever.
This is why He came… to call you, to offer to clear you past, when all wrongs are cleaned and forgiven, to give you a fresh start, to offer you eternity with Him. Struggle to believe? That’s fine, be honest, just don’t give up. Listen to what He says, ask, search and … He will find you.
We know that the birth of Jesus, His live, death and resurrection changed the world. It created the world is which we live today. Do you know how He did it? With the greatest power.
For He was able to change people from inside, to change their hearts. For what He offers is life changing. His forgiveness, His love, His promises makes the whole difference. Once you have Him, you have everything.
Today He is again among us. Literary among us. For He needs you. He needs you to carry on His world transforming message. He offers you His power, His love, His Spirit. I pray that you would act as adults, that you would use your best judgment and would accept what Jesus Christ has come to offer.
Joyful Christmas and blessed New Year!