Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

How the Evangelicals Lost Christmas

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

This Christmas season in evangelical churches all over the United States you’ll be able to hear amazing well written sermons about how Jesus was born in a manager, lived a perfect sinless life, died on the cross to atone for our sins and arose on the third day proving he had defeated sin and death. While all of these things are biblically true they have nothing to do with Christmas, except for the born in a manger part.

We evangelicals have lost Christmas. We are so caught up in the atonement that we forget the incarnation. Even in our Christmas sermons we blow by Christmas to get to Easter, because that’s the good news after all. Or is it? Jesus sent John’s disciples back to him with the message that the good news was being proclaimed (Matthew 11:5). The message that Jesus proclaimed wasn’t that he was going to die to save us from our sins (Although this is very good news and I don’t mean to minimize it). The message that Jesus proclaimed was that the Kingdom of God was near (Mark 1:14 and many others). The Kingdom of God was manifested in the life of Jesus.

The incarnation is about communication. The incarnation is about displaying a life lived in the Kingdom of God. Jesus lived his life in full submission to the Father and invites us into that life, the life that the Apostle John termed eternal life. Christmas is about God “making his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). The incarnation shows us how to live in relationship with God. The incarnation is a model for our lives. Then on the cross Jesus redeemed us restoring our relationship with God and after the resurrection he ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to live that life.

As Christians, we’re called to live our lives from the perspective of the incarnation. The community we’re forming in Ann Arbor is all about this kind of incarnational living. Agape Ann Arbor is a community experiencing and expressing God’s love as modeled by Jesus in the incarnation. We would love for you to join our community. There are several ways you can be a part of this incarnational ministry. You can contact us to find out about our next meeting. You can join our prayer team and commit to praying for us. You can support our ministry financially.

More importantly, however, you can make the choice this Christmas to reclaim what we’ve lost. During this Christmas season, don’t skip to Easter. We will celebrate the glorious resurrection of our messiah soon enough. This Christmas, celebrate his incarnation.

Christmas Characters Part 3

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Only three of the four gospels tell the Christmas story. We’ve looked at two of them so far in this series, Matthew and Luke. In this final post in the Christmas Characters series we’re going to look the Christmas story as presented in the Gospel of John. Matthew told the story from Joseph’s perspective. Luke from Mary’s. John tells the story from Jesus’ perspective. The story is in John 1:1-18.

John focuses on the story from Jesus’ perspective. Jesus, the Word, as the second person of the Trinity who is God and through whom all creation was made left heaven and made is home, built his tent among people. He came on Christmas morning as a child to provide a way for the people he created to become “the children of God.”

On Christmas, God revealed himself and opened his arms wide to receive his people back into his family. It costs us nothing. It cost Jesus his life. This Christmas as you are thanking your friends and family for the wonderful gifts, don’t forget to thank Jesus for giving us Christmas and don’t forget to share his story with those around you that need to hear it again.

Christmas Characters Part 2

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

In the last post we looked at Christmas from Joseph’s perspective. Today, we will look at Christmas through the eyes of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Her story is found in Luke 1:26-56

This is a pretty crazy story. A teenaged girl about to be married encounters a messenger from God. This messenger tells her that she’s favored by God and going to have a kid. Like any bright young woman in her position her immediate answer is, “huh?” This is a young girl of a conquered disenfranchised people. How in the world can this messenger say God favors her? On top of that, he tells her she’s going to get pregnant! This doesn’t sound like favor at all. How is she going to explain this to her husband-to-be?

“No, I haven’t cheated this is God’s baby. I’m favored by God and the son I’m carrying is going to be a great king.”

Today we have very comfortable padded rooms for people who make such claims.
Yet, Mary trusted the messenger and submitted to God. Submitting to God doesn’t always seem to make sense. On the outside, it can often look foolish or ridiculous. But then, the Christmas story looks foolish and ridiculous until you read the sequel, Easter.

God doesn’t always make sense to me. But he always comes through. As you get ready for Christmas next week, think about what God’s asking you to do. Does it sound ridiculous? Maybe, but remember there once was a girl who had this ridiculous encounter with someone who said they he was from God and told her that though she was a virgin she was going to have a son. And through her, God brought his Son to earth and changed the world. On this side of the story it doesn’t sound so ridiculous. What will your story look like on the other side?

Christmas Characters Part 1

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

As we head into Christmas, I thought we should spend a little time talking about the Christmas event. So for the next two weeks of posts, we’re going to look at some of the people that experienced that first Christmas and try to learn from them. Today let’s look at Jesus’ adopted father, Joseph.
Not much is known about Joseph. His story takes up very little space in Scripture. Mathew is the only New Testament author that tells his story. (Luke tells the story from Mary’s perspective. Mark starts his gospel when Jesus is older. John doesn’t discuss Jesus’ human parents.)

Joseph, Matthew says, was a righteous man. That, by the way, is probably the best commentary possible of one’s life. Joseph, the righteous man, chooses to endure the scorn and ridicule of marrying a woman that everyone suspected was unfaithful to him because God said so.

Can you imagine how difficult that had to be for Joseph? That certainly wasn’t at all what he expected. This was not the life that Joseph planned. Yet, Joseph was a righteous man. He obeyed God and endured the hardship and embarrassment of marrying a woman that people would always suspect had cheated on him, for the sake of God’s plan.

We all have to endure things that don’t fit in our plan. It could be the loss of a job, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a child the loss of a friend. I don’t know what you’re enduring right now. But, Joseph, the righteous man, shows us that we can endure it. Joseph’s endurance allowed him to be the man that raised God’s Son. As you prepare for Christmas, think about that. Think about what God might be doing through the experience that you’re enduring. And, lean on him.