Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Truth of Christmas

Dear Friends,

One of my favorite Christmas stories is about  a 14 year old boy by the name of William Spurling. William was big for his age and some said that mentally, he was a little slow. But he was kind-hearted, a good friend to all and he was well-liked by the other kids and their parents.

When it came time for the church Christmas program to be presented, William wanted to be a shepherd, but the teacher decided that he would make a better innkeeper since he was so big. Even though William had a gentle personality, he physically fit the role of the big, mean innkeeper.

William worked hard to learn his lines and to act like the gruff innkeeper. Finally it was Christmas Eve and time for the Nativity performance. When Mary and Joseph came to the inn and knocked on the door, William  opened it right on cue. He said gruffly, “There is no place for you to stay! There is no room at the inn!” 

Joseph said, “But my wife is tired and she is expecting a baby tonight. Isn't there just a small room where we could rest?”

Once again, William said, with roughness in his voice, “You'll have to find a place somewhere else! There is no room in the inn!” Once more Joseph pleaded for someplace for them to stay the night. 

Then there was a loooong pause. William got a panicked look on his face and soon everyone knew that he’d forgotten his next line. An embarrassed silence engulfed the church. Then from behind the manger set came the voice of the Sunday school teacher prompting the innkeeper. “No, be gone! Be gone!” William was now nervous and a little flustered. He was able to say the line but he had slipped out of character and lost the harshness of the innkeeper.

“Be gone” was Mary and Joseph’s cue to leave and they both turned to do so with sad and troubled expressions on their faces. That was when William Spurling forgot that he was playing a role in a Christmas Pageant. “No! Wait a minute!” he blurted out. “You can stay in my room and I’ll sleep in the stable...”

Mary and Joseph were now speechless. The Sunday school teacher thought the performance was ruined and put her head in her hands. In the stunned silence, the pastor got up and slowly walked to the front of the church. “What you just heard,” he said with a smile, “is the real truth of Christmas and the message of the Gospel.”
God incarnate. God the Son took on human flesh to take our place on the cross so that we can go instead to our heavenly home. 

The birth of Jesus is God’s perfect gift to us. Not just the gift of the Baby, but the offer of for-giveness and salvation. And then God steps back to see what we’re going to do with His gift.

Sadly, many reject Jesus and His gift of salvation and in doing so they reject God. And then there are “Christians” who have accepted the gift but do so with indifference. Their apathetic faith makes no room for the presence of God in their lives. To those, Jesus would say “..you honor me with your lips but your hearts are far from me and you worship me in vain..” (Matt 15:8-9)

But many receive God’s gift of Jesus with hearts filled with great joy and thanksgiving. Their Christian spirituality is a lived experience and an authentic expression of their faith. 

Your gift this year is lying in a manger.. and God is waiting to see how you will receive it...
The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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