Have Yourself a Radical Christmas

I love this time of the year.
Christmas is a time of love, joy, peace, and hope.
Time with family and friends is core to this.
The songs, carols, and worship music of Christmas are moving to me.
I have my own EXTENSIVE play list of Christmas-themed music.
Some of the holiday movies cover these themes so well.
I love Dicken's A Christmas Carol.
For many years, our family would enjoy the Trans-Siberian Orchestra experience in Hershey.
Becky has a beautiful collection of nativity sets that are part of our Christmas decorations.

I love how Living Word celebrates Christmas: It is NOT About Us. It is about the generous and gracious love of God directed toward others. Our modern gift giving is a reflection (although sadly diminished) of God's gift of Jesus to us.

I love the Christmas Eve Offering we take to give to our missional friends and partners--locally and globally.

And, of course, the story of Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds, wise visitors from the East--every year I read through this story several times.

But . . . 

There are deep themes in the Christmas story that are usually missed.

At the heart of Christmas is the invasion of the kingdoms of this world by the Kingdom of God, now present with the birth of Jesus Christ, King and Lord, Savior and God  With Us.

A KING will be born. A KING, a Ruler, a Lord.

This will be good news for many and BAD NEWS for others who use their current kingship in ways that do not honor the purposes of God.

Luke 1:31-33
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.

Luke 1:52-53
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

Luke 2:34
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against."

Read Psalm 2. It is a Kingship psalm and hovers over the Christmas story.

It is Matthew's gospel story of the birth of Jesus that introduces the darker elements of the kings of the world, threatened by the King of Kings, and determined to eliminate the Lord's anointed (Psalm 2:1-3).

It is the story of the WISE MEN before they got to Jesus.

It is the story of KING HEROD.

It is the story of a king threatened by the TRUE KING.

It is the story of the kingdoms of this world being challenged (and renewed) by the KINGDOM of GOD.

Therefore, Christmas is a story of clash and conflict because the kings and the kingdoms of this world will not go quietly to their end.

Shepherds, angels, and wise ones say YES to the newborn King.

KINGS and RULERS of the EARTH say NO.

"O Little Town of Bethlehem" has one of my favorite lines in all the Christmas hymns:

Where meek souls shall receive Him still the dear Lord enters in.

This line comes right out of the Bible. Isaiah 57:15 says:

For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."

It is the meek, the humble, the lowly, and the contrite who receive the King. For them, the King enters into their lives.

Christmas is Immanuel, God with us, Word made flesh, God moving into the neighborhood.

Christmas is God changing EVERYTHING.

So, may you have yourself a very merry and radical Christmas.

Pastor Brian Rice