For about as long as there’s been Christmas, there’s been people trying to use it and this Child. This has manifested itself in a variety of ways, but in the end it’s all the same thing: law or lawlessness (which is really more law). Today the festival draws near. With the sunset we sing some of the Christian Church’s most solemn, moving, beautiful hymns. We read the poetry of the incarnation. We hear the prophets and evangelists call us. All of this, too, is to one end: God is here, in flesh, for us!
Please don’t use Christmas. Please don’t use this Child. Sing, hear, see. Christ is here, and that is good news, and He is good news. Christmas and this Child need be no more and they certainly won’t be any less than that, either. This is a gospel day. God is here, made flesh, and not in the Sinai sort of way, but so humbly, so meekly, so us-ly that any terror in His presence would be out of place. Yes, we can tremble. Yes, we can marvel. But here is the perfect love that casts out fear, wrapped in swaddling cloths, even as He still comes to us now, wrapped in the pages of Scripture, bread and wine, water, and the voice of those who proclaim good news.
So, here’s my plea: stop it already, it’s Christmas. Don’t guilt people to Bethlehem. Don’t threaten them to the manger. Don’t berate them into these solemn, moving, beautiful hymns. Trust the Child. I know He doesn’t look it, but there isn’t anything too big for His tiny hands. Trust the Child, because that’s the only thing He asks, and it’s a gift that He Himself gives, through good news, as good news!
Pastors, you’ve worked hard on your sermons. Look ’em over. Are they good news, and that for all people? You don’t need a thirty minute masterpiece today. The Child is here, God made Man. Proclaim it. Proclaim Him. Bring good news! Will those there be back next week? What does that have to do with today? God is here, in human flesh, for us! If they do come back, shouldn’t it be for that, because good news? Nothing should be less burdensome than this message on this day. Soak it in, the hymns, the poetry, the prophets and evangelists calling, and give what God is giving you.
Hearers, listen. Don’t take the good news for granted. Simple as it is, it’s often the hardest thing for a preacher to proclaim. Everything in us, and often those around us, sometimes even in church leadership, tells us we need to dress it up, add something more, persuade, win you, sell you on what we have to offer. Thank God for good news. Thank your pastor. Thank anyone who will listen. It’s Christmas! The Child is here, God in human flesh–our flesh, for us! If you thought you were going shopping when you headed to the sanctuary, stop it already, it’s Christmas. God is here, for you, with good news. Nothing is for sale. What we deal in here is free–our God insists so.
In a while those of us at Let the Bird Fly will be dressing up (the other guys certainly better than me), packing up, and heading to hear our pastor in our parish. Here’s to the good news we’re sure to get. And that good news is our wish for you this Christmas, too. It’s what this Child came to bring. It’s who He is. Merry Christmas, everyone! Let the bird fly with us. God is here, for us, with good news, as good news. The world is given back to us, all as gift. Enjoy unwrapping it in 2019!
For more content like this, check out the podcast, blog posts, and devotions at www.LetTheBirdFly.com.
You can listen to our Christmas episode here.