A Message of Hope Born in Bethlehem

Do you like a good story? We all do, don’t we. A good story is hard to resist – isn’t it? Whether it’s movies like Lord of the Rings, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit or The Star Wars Saga… There is something captivating about a good story.

Maybe that’s why we are so hooked on certain holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life or Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. These are stories that have endured because there is a certain down-to-earth, realness about them.Do you like a good story? We all do, don’t we. A good story is hard to resist – isn’t it? Whether it’s movies like Lord of the Rings, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit or The Star Wars Saga… There is something captivating about a good story.

And then there is the story of the birth of JesusIt’s been said that “the Christmas story doesn’t hide us from the harshness of our world. The harshness is an integral part of the story. And this is one of the reasons that this story is so powerful and enduring…The story does not hide us from the existence of the harshness. The story integrates it, showing us that God entered into the harshness of our world in order to change it.

But for now, looking at the Christmas story with a wide lens, just how do you re-tell a story as enduring as this one? Well, I think one way to do it is to attempt to look at it from a different vantage point. Looking at a story from a different vantage point can bring to light different facets of its enduring qualities. We are going to try to do that tonight by looking at one such passage in the Bible – Galatians 4:4-5

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to son-ship.

Now at first glance you won’t see shepherds, Mary and Joseph, wise men, or even a manger! But I think if you look a little more closely, you will. Each of those famous components of this story are all there, imbedded in the first line of that verse. From this verse I want to leave you with one simple Christmas-time reminder from God:

God holds all of human history perfectly in his hand (“the set time”)

God was more than able to keep the newborn infant Jesus safe in the midst of the harsh world he was born into. Barely before he had taken his first look at the world, Jesus was already being hunted by a King who wanted him dead. Then, barely after taking his first breath of life, his father is forced to hurriedly take his family to nearby Egypt. Embedded into the fabric of this Christmas story is God’s promise to take care of us – just as he took care of his son – Jesus. He will take care of us. And that is why there is so much hope centered on that first Christmas day.

We all understand that the holidays are really not a “holly, jolly” time after all. No doubt this past year has been full of disappointments and heartaches in our personal and professional lives. Maybe you’ve struggled to hold down a job or you were passed over for a promotion. Maybe you’ve been dealing with broken relationships characterized by hate and a lack of forgiveness. This is the first complete holiday season I’ve spent without my mother. We lost her to a long battle with Alzheimer’s just four days after Thanksgiving last year. Whatever the source of your hurt and anger, life in this world can just be plane unforgiving….but it is not without meaning.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis, the Problem of Pain

The pain and suffering that so often characterizes our lives does not need to rob of us our hope for something better. In fact, that is a good one word summary of that first Christmas morn – HOPE. As those wise men from afar looked into the face of Jesus, what they saw was hope. Hope for mankind. Hope for a better future. Hope for a restored relationship with our Creator. You see, you matter to God. You really do! God desires to be so present for you; so involved in your life that He invades human history in a way that changes the course of history itself.

Are you ready for the New Year? Whether you’re ready for it or not, it is just over one week away so I suppose we need to get ready for it! With the new year, there be no short of newspapers, magazines, talk shows and self-help gurus promising your best life now; promising better career success and the like if only you follow their formula. But I promise you this – if you put your hope in Jesus as your Savior then you will have true hope in the New Year.  How do you put your hope in Jesus as your savior? It’s by quietly confessing your sin of unbelief to God and accepting Christ as the payment for your sins. We call this repentance and faith.

If you’d like to continue your pursuit for hope in the new year, I encourage you to check out an upcoming class we will be offering through the York Adult Education at the York Middle School beginning Tuesday evenings in March. You can get some information here https://youtu.be/3zEZoDMb51o

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