On Monday, December 4th, Carolina Forest Recreation Center hosted the Sixth Annual Tree Lighting for the community. Pastor Zahn was, again, invited to share a Christmas Message with the attendees.
Christmas is for kids. We hear that all the time, don't we? I'm sure when December 20th rolls around, some of you kids are going to travel to grandma and grandpa's house for Christmas. Or maybe grandma and grandpa are going to come and visit. And kids, I want you to picture that moment when grandma or grandpa sees you. It's the first time they've seen you in months or maybe even a year. There's the big hug…maybe your cheeks get pinched…grandma tells you how beautiful (girls) or how handsome (boys) you are. Grandpa maybe gives you a noogie on the head and talks about how tall you've gotten. And if there is a baby brother or baby sister - grandma and grandpa - make strange faces and noises at your little brother or sister that for some reason is a socially acceptable way for adults to behave around infants. That’s something grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and moms and dads are especially prone to do at Christmastime. What is so special about babies and Christmas? The connection is traced back to the origins of Christmas.
Think about the centerpiece of every nativity scene. Sure there might be an angel, some wise men, a sheep and some shepherds, Marcy and Joseph, but what's at the center? The centerpiece of every nativity scene is the baby. Churches talk about a baby. The most familiar Christmas songs focus on the baby. And we love it. Think of “What Child is This?" "Mary, Did You Know?" Or how about "Silent Night, Holy Night.” Why is it a favorite? Because we love the picture of an infant, tender and mild, sleeping in heavenly peace. Why do we love that picture? Because Jesus was cute? Because he coos? Because he had that belly laugh that only babies have?
Jesus may have had all those things. But what makes this child the centerpiece of this month and of the Christian faith is not his cuteness. Rather, it’s his significance for our lives. What is that? He comes to deal with the stuff we'd rather deny, hide, ignore, or even consider taboo. It feels counter to the season to bring up things so dark and difficult. Christmas is supposed to be about joy, feeling merry and bright, right? So shouldn’t we avoid talking about the ugly side of humanity? If we’re going to hold on to the joy of this season, shouldn’t we just turn a blind eye to way people’s greed can turn them ugly toward others in the store this time of year? While we know it’s not right to gossip…it does seem to make the conversations at the company party or the family Christmas a whole lot more interesting, right? If we’re supposed to be gathering for celebrations, can’t we just set aside the struggles we’re facing, or the loneliness we’re feeling, or the guilt we’re bearing, for this season? Out of sight out of mind, right? Let’s hold on to the joy by hiding the problems.
You and I don’t want to talk about that. But Jesus does. All that really matters in life is what you put between the letter “s” and the letter “n”. Sometimes we think of me, myself, and put “I” there and we “s-i-n”. But God looked down, backspaced your vowel and typed an “o”. S-o-n. God’s Son, born for you. He’s not just a tender, mild, sleeping baby. He’s your deliverer from life's disappointments, healer of the hurt you're experiencing, hope for the hopeless, a rescuer from eternal ruin, the forgiver of all wrong. Christmas, is all about this child - Jesus, the Savior, born for you.