One more Christmas has come and gone. In some homes the decorations have all been taken down and stored away for another year.
I wonder, when the decorations come down, do people put away Jesus too for another year? Sometimes it seems that way. People bring out the baby Jesus in a manger to ooo and aah at and then they put the crèche away. They forget that that baby grew up, that he assembled a group of men and women who followed him as he trekked through Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. They forget, or maybe they don’t even know, that he brought hope and healing to those who were oppressed, those who had given up any hope of ever being free from the iron rule of some other nation. They forget that this baby was the One who was the light of the world. Or maybe they never heard of the One who drove back the darkness.
So many families have Moms and Dads who are both working hard to provide a home for they children that when Sunday comes around they just don’t have the energy to get everyone up and dressed and out to a cold car or van to come to church to worship, to learn about this One who came into to the world to shine a light into the darkness, to free people from their burdens, the burdens they are carrying. Since they are too worn out to come to worship, they never hear the story of Jesus, God incarnated here among us as a little baby who grew into the Son of Man, who would be the savior of the world. They’ve never known the Jesus who grew up.
They’ve heard of the baby. They’ve heard the story of the Wise Men who came bearing gifts. That’s sounds pretty neat so they exchange gifts with each other; but do they know the meaning behind the giving? I wonder.
So friends, what are we to do? Do we sit back and say I’ve done my share of the work and let it go at that? Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans 10:14 ff., “But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” He goes on to say, “…faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”
So good friends, as we begin a new year, my prayer would be that we take on the responsibility to tell the story of Jesus to everyone we meet. It’s a simple story but not everyone will understand it. It’s as if some don’t have the ears to hear the words. And if they have the ears to hear they’re somehow kept from understanding the Message.
The greatest gift we can give our families and friends, in fact, everyone we meet as we journey through life, is the gift of God’s love and salvation. I believe that is our work here on earth. Teach the Word and let the Word drive away the darkness.
It’s not easy work and sometimes it can be dangerous work but it is work that’s very important. How are they to know if no one tells them the story? How are those who work long hours and are so worn out by the things of the world ever to know that there is a God who loves them and wants to relieve them of their burdens if they never hear.
Friends, I know you know the Word and I believe there is no one better qualified to teach than you who have been given the gift of life’s experiences. So friends, go out into the world as people sent by God to spread the Word. Bring the light of Christ into the dark corners of the world.
Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit you will be empowered and enabled to change the world. Maybe just one person right here needs to hear the story. Don’t hesitate; trust in God to be right beside you as you tell your story.
Friends, God loves you. Thanks be to God for his grace. Amen.