First Focus


This week, the epic journey of Star Wars returns. I’m sure that I’ll climb aboard the Millenium Falcon and enjoy the ride at some point. Our world looks to heroic tales of adventure between the Force of light and dark to help them imaginatively deal with reality today. We don’t have to argue with those around us whether trouble abounds. At best, secular people wish that the goodness in us will eventually triumph over the badness. Star Wars speaks to that deeply felt need inside most people. The birth of Jesus, however, offers even greater hope.

Christianity preaches good news. We don’t look to heroes who somehow summon up the right inside them to triumph over wrong. We admit that we’re all terribly warped by the choices we’ve made in our world today. We tell stories of inspiring saints. We lift up imperfect, fallen people like Mary, Joseph, and shepherds who, in the midst of the deepest forces of darkness in their world, God showed up. Through no effort of their own or any expectation otherwise, God caught them by surprise. A baby was born that changed the world.

We believe “God is still with us” even today. This good, loving Baby reigns over the forces of light and dark. Jesus has already fought and won a cosmic battle over death, hell, and the grave. Yes, there is deep difficulty in our world, and our world writhes and convulses in the pain and agony that we have caused. Gun violence, hatred, terrorism, child abuse, abortion, racism, and wars are just a few of the many examples of the ways we are still surrounded by the deepest darkness of death’s shadow. In fact, our world is often led temporarily by people who perpetuate these problems. Some of them do so ignorantly because they do not know a better way. Some leaders do so intentionally because this is how they came to power in the first place. Just as Mary and Joseph found in the days of Caesar and Herod, Jesus didn’t go to Bethlehem and Egypt because they were looking for something fun to do. Our God was born in Bethlehem and became a refugee because of the ruthless butchers of Rome and Caesarea.

So what on earth is God doing this year? Instead of waiting for us to summon the strength to fix the world, and instead of asking us to use the same violent weapons that perpetuate our problems, our living reigning God is sending his Son again to Bethlehem. What worked back then continues to work on us. The grace that came in the fullness of time is offered in a manger to us this year.

If you were here, you will remember that Jesus showed up Sunday night in the powerful musical, “Come Home for Christmas.” We heard the invitation, “Come Home,” and the announcement, “All is Well.” We don’t need to listen any longer or look any farther to awaken to a brand new day dawning on the horizon. We don’t need an angel to tell us that God is changing our world from the darkness of a cave in Bethlehem. He uses humble people like me and you. He invites us to come again to declare our loyalty to Jesus as our Savior and Lord. He invites us to live righteous, obedient, humble, loving lives. He asks us to be the church that can shine his light all the way from the manger to the world.

I’ll be here Thursday evening, December 24 at 4:00PM and 6:00PM. In our first service, we’ll invite the children to wear biblical costumes and help us perform this message. At 6:00PM, we’ll raise our candles to the darkness as we come home for Christmas at the manger together. I hope you’ll come. Bring your family; bring your friends; invite your enemies. This is an epic journey from heaven to earth that you don’t want to miss.