December 23, 2022
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I love all the "joy to the world" and the Christmas electricity in the air. But maybe you remember a few Christmases ago, just down from the manger there were a lot of flags at half-staff for 26 Connecticut funerals. You probably remember all those little children gunned down so brutally just eleven days before Christmas. We live in a violent time, an angry time, conflicted, confusing. But it's still Christmas, and still the "most wonderful time of the year."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Manger and a Messed Up World."
The dueling joy and the sadness of that Christmas is not new. It was there at Christmas 1864 when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" in some of the darkest days of the Civil War that sundered a nation and bathed it in blood. Longfellow knew the Christmas angels had announced that Jesus' birth would bring "peace on earth." But the battlefield news sang another song. So he wrote, "And in despair I bowed my head: 'There is no peace on earth,' I said; for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men.'"
You know, with so much sadness in the news, with the world always seeming to be a boiling cauldron, anger and polarization almost paralyzing our nation and its leaders, what ever happened to peace on earth? I've concluded you can't understand the peace promise of Christmas without the angelic announcement that precedes it. "For to you is born this day...a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).
See, the coming of Jesus isn't just history or theology, it's profoundly personal. This Savior is born "to you." And when you've asked Him to "Savior" you, He brings into your heart an inner peace that only He can give. Peace in your soul on an earth like this. It turns out there really is no ultimate contradiction between the joy of Christmas and our brokenhearted grieving, because the God-invasion of this planet, birthed in a Bethlehem stable, has added a profound new dimension to this thing called "life."
Jesus added the word that changes everything - eternal. Our word for today from the Word of God, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him has eternal life." But it took a Savior to make life everlasting. Because human sin - our personal rebellion against God's rule over our life - has placed each of us, and all of us, under a penalty of eternal death with no way to reach a holy God, no hope for a heaven that would be beyond the hurt of earth.
It was with good reason that the heavens exploded with celebration the night the Son of God became a man, because only God could come here and live without sin. But only a man could take our place and die for our sin - the God-Man; that baby in the manger. And He could bring us the peace that can finally calm the storm in the human soul. Peace with God.
In the words of an Army chaplain on the front lines in Afghanistan several years ago: "It's the peace that means the long war between the heart and its Maker is over. It's a peace treaty offered in Bethlehem and signed in blood on Calvary." A peace that floods into a human heart when the Savior of the world becomes "to you a Savior."
In the Bible's words, when you stake your life and your eternity on the fact that "He loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20), because this peace with God is unloseable. It anchors your soul no matter how violent the storm; it's an anchor that holds. Glory to God in the highest! Merry Christmas!
The time we celebrate Christ coming into our world. What a time to have Him come into your life! Born in Bethlehem then, born in you this Christmas. I hope you'll spend a few minutes at our website and get this settled. It's ANewStory.com. And let this be your first Christmas with Christ in your heart.