Experience the Wonder of Christmas
Thank you to everybody who participated in Walk Thru Bethlehem. It was an amazing year and we welcomed thousands to our church. I am grateful for all of the leaders who helped make it happen and to everybody who volunteered. It remains one of Woodmont’s greatest traditions! The feedback and appreciation we receive is incredible!
I said on Sunday that Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn. For many of us today, there is still no room for Jesus in our hearts. We’re too busy, too preoccupied, too successful. We’re buried in our iPhones and not present in the moment. We’re too damaged by organized religion and all its hypocrisy. We’re too distracted to let God break into our lives. The real meaning of Christmas is a gift that money can’t buy and Amazon can’t deliver. It’s the gift of inner peace and joy deep within our soul.
Peace is something that we all long to experience. A Chinese proverb says, “If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.” One thing builds on the next.
Some will say, “You can talk and sing about peace all day long, but in the real world, you better hire a lawyer, build a nuclear weapon, and keep a gun in your car and at your house to take care of your family because that’s just the way it is!” And there is a sense in which this type of cynicism and fear affects all of us and how we see the world. Sometimes it seems as though it doesn’t matter whether we desire peace, or pray for peace, or want peace – the world in which we live seems full of fear, anger, hostility, war, and threats. Yet, we should remember that peace must be more than a human ideal. Peace must be more than just a social goal or protest. Peace must be more than just a psychological state of being and wishful thinking. It must become a reality in the way we treat other people.
One scholar articulated it this way: “Here is the amazingly new concept – that God could and would become a human being. That God could enter into the life that we live. That eternity could appear in time. That somehow the Creator could appear in Creation in such a way that human eyes could actually see him.” The miracle of Christmas is that God came to earth to dwell among us. Through Christ, the divine became human. The eternal appeared in time. The Creator became a part of Creation. Or, as John so beautifully writes in the fourth Gospel, “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and full of truth.”
The real gift of Christmas is the joy that we feel deep within our soul when we realize that God reached out to a hurting world. And yes, we live in a world where many are hurting, broken, and longing to experience joy this Christmas. Many people are alive, but just going through the motions. Many people are present, but they’re not really there. They’re distant! They’re grieving! They’re exhausted! They’re lonely! And I would say that during these final weeks of Advent, many of us still need Christmas to come alive in our own hearts. But if we can keep our spiritual focus, celebrate it in the right way and carve out time to be still, we just might find what we need. The wise men followed the star to Bethlehem, were overwhelmed with joy, and then went home by another road. Their lives were changed forever.
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