Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas in Heaven

In just a few days, we will celebrate Christmas.  Based solely on the songs we sing and the cards we send this time of year, here’s how most people seem to think the story goes:  On December 25 in the year 0, a man named Joseph was trying to find a suitable place in Bethlehem for his wife to have their first child. But a cranky hotel manager took one look at this pregnant woman on a donkey and said “Hit the road!”  Fortunately, the innkeeper’s wife snuck Joseph and Mary into the stable behind the hotel.  This was a very unique stable featuring animals that never made a sound or went to the bathroom. The whole place was dirt-free, with reverent lighting and the smell of cinnamon and pine cones in the air.  There, Mary knelt down and, in a few moments of painless labor, produced a newborn baby with flawless skin and a golden halo around His perfectly formed head.  Like the animals, the baby also did not cry or go to the bathroom.  Ever.  Joseph was by this point useless, so Mary asked him to tear up strips of a satin bed sheet for Mary to wrap the baby in, figuring this was a job even a man couldn’t mess up.   Meanwhile, a group of shepherds who looked like bearded male models wearing LL Bean Hoodies were surprised by a group of angels who looked like naked infants with wings.  The angels told the shepherds to go to Bethlehem and see the new King, so they went immediately to the stable, which was easy to identify because a huge supernova star was sitting directly over it and the strains of the Hallelujah Chorus emanated from inside.  Curiously, no one else in town noticed this.  But soon some visitors from out of town arrived.  And so Mary, Joseph, and the baby were joined by three ornately dressed Kings, a little drummer boy, a crippled lamb, Frosty the Snowman, the full cast of the Nutcracker, and Joel Osteen.  After posing for a few pictures, the whole group went home, tucked themselves in for a long winter’s nap, and hoped that their names were on the good list so Santa would bring them a Nintendo 3DS in the morning. 
            Fortunately both Matthew and Luke give us separate accounts that tell us the real story of the birth of Christ.  But you may be surprised to know that there is a third account of the Christmas story in Scripture: Revelation 12:1-17.  I doubt any of you has ever heard a Christmas sermon on this passage, but it’s a Christmas passage nonetheless.  It shows us what the first Christmas looked like from Heaven’s perspective.  And it shows us what Christmas should tell us today.

 I'll be preaching on Revelation 12 this Sunday, December 23 in our 10:30 worship service.  I hope you can be there.  And I also hope you can join us for one of our Christmas Eve services.  Our 5:30 service is specially designed for families with young children (though all are welcome).  Our 7:00 service is a bit longer and more reverent in tone.  Either way, have a Merry Christmas!

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