Before and After (Christmas Day)

Christmas Day

Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12)

“Before and After”

by CM

Have you ever known a person who was stuck in the past? Everything they say is about, “The good old days.” People constantly caught up in nostalgia, pining for the comforts of yesterday, confusing “old-school” with “old-fashioned.” Just because an old pair of shoes is still comfortable doesn’t mean that they aren’t worn out and as with all things, change is inevitable.

Our text is written fro the benefit of those who have become comfortable with what was. People who are devoted to God in the context of a past deliverance. We have come to love the Lord and have a “testimony” to the truth of what God can do. We remember our former state, our particular sin, and in that deliverance we KNOW God; for it was through that experience that God spoke to use… in times past, our Before.

Our text illuminates the validity of a “before” experience. God spoke in time past through the prophets, but in these last days, he speaks through his son Jesus—the “After.” Many in the first century and up to this very day have a problem with the change that Jesus brought into the world. They were, and are, stuck in the before, but the real question is this. Does a person’s choice to be suck in the past equate to God remaining there too?

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus and acknowledge God’s transition in his means of communication from the old to the new, let’s open ourselves up to experience God work in our life in a new way. Let’s open ourselves up to a new “After” and be thankful for God’s “Before.”

The opening words of Psalm 98 read, “O sing to the LORD a new song.” In Jesus we have cause to. In all that we testify to, all of it is “before.” Move with an open willingness into the glorious “after” of what God wants to deliver you not just from, but to.

Manger Maker (Christmas Eve)

Christmas Eve – December 24th

Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

“Manger Maker”

by CM

The Nativity story has always held a special place in my heart. It’s a scene in which the most glorious of all existence enters the turmoil of a chaotic creation. And in the duration of time that encompasses this event, peace and joy enfold all of space, all of time, and it’s all because of a baby named Jesus who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

There is a host of individuals who helped make this moment possible, each on divinely situated to play an important and specific role to bring about God’s designed purpose. Of course, we have Mary, whom we all call blessed. There’s Joseph, Mary’s husband, and descendant of the House of David. Caesar Augustus, for only an Emperor could issue a decree to all the world that would compel Joseph to make the trip to Bethlehem. We need a historical reference point to narrow down the period of time, so we have the governor of Syria, Quirinius. We have the shepherds in the field to bear witness to the event, the angel, and the host of heaven to praise and worship. All of the these people are identified so we’ll have contextual depth and texture for this story. But there’s one more person, one whose touch is so important that without him we’d have a totally different accounting of this story. Can you identify him?

The fact that Joseph and Mary were turned away from the inn shows that they didn’t have the manger on their minds when Mary’s time to deliver came. That means that the manger just so happened to be there, or was it really that much of a coincidence? Someone built it, someone gathered the materials and used his skills to construct the place where Jesus would be born, where the shepherds would find him, and a place where, in an imperfect world, perfect timing and placement were demonstrated by an unnamed craftsman, whose importance was so vital that God personally commissioned him to do so.

Some of you who may be tempted to esteem your value, your importance, your vital presence and dynamic contributions as being less significant than those of the “named” stars of the show. Consider the world into which Jesus was born and the first place he found prepared for him. Did the “Manger Maker” know the significance of his work project at the onset of his undertaking? Probably not. But God did. And while we don’t know that craftsman’s name, God does. And in that example, recognize the fact that your own worth is measured by your faithful dedication to perform and the fact that God knows your name.

For it is in such, I believe, that we find a long list of names. Names of a silent majority who make sure God’s projects come to pass, a list whom Jesus will personally greet with a warm embrace and add the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”A simple, yet profound, “Thank you.”