Focus on Christ
Luke 2:1-20

Tonight I’ve deliberately set up our sanctuary with the manger central to everything else that is going on in the place.  I want the focus to be on the one who was laid in the manger two thousand years ago, the son of God who became a lowly human being just like you and I.  He invites you to come and worship, to spend a few minutes reflecting on the importance of this act of his, to come like the first witnesses of his birth to see, to rejoice, to give thanks and to sing.

At the end of year service for our primary school this year the children’s presentation depicted pieces of the nativity, and the story behind each of the characters of the nativity scene.  These of course include Mary and Joseph, the angel Gabriel, the donkey, the shepherds, the animals, and the wise men from the East.  As each piece was added to the scene I was reminded of the theme I had decided on for this evening’s services.  Each of the pieces was focused centrally, each as it was placed into position focused on the child, the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in the manger.

Do you have a nativity scene at your place?  Is there one in your street or in a shop front?  Think back to a nativity scene that is in your memory bank, can you remember which way all of the characters were facing?  Some occasionally face away from the manger but on the whole the individual pieces are usually focused centrally on the Christ child.  That’s the way I’ve set up our scene tonight, and that’s the way I want us to be focussed too, so that we are reminded of the central character and promise of Christmas and not distracted by all of the trimmings.

Throughout the last couple of weeks we’ve been hearing on the news and social media of the frustrations of the commercialised version of Christmas.  The number of incidences of car park and road rage are up around the country, parents have been frustrated by retail stores not having stock of items that were placed on lay-by back as early as June, still others running all over the city to different stores to find that last item on the list and other parents have been commenting on the need to assemble Christmas presents and have everything organised and in place for the Christmas celebrations.  But they are missing the whole point of Christmas.

Christmas is meant to be a season of joy and celebration, of shifting our focus off the peripheral things and on to Jesus Christ, the son of the most High God, the descendant of the house of David, the promised Messiah.  Do we lose focus because this story isn’t glorious or gory enough for us? Are we bored with it because we’ve heard it all before?  We shouldn’t be – think about it.

This story puts the weddings of what’s–her-name Kardashian and all of those other celebrities to shame, here we have the son of God, being born to a virgin in a stable in the backblocks of Bethlehem.  The first people to hear about the saviour of the world are a bunch of shepherds living out in the fields.

This stuff should be on the front page of all of the glossy magazines and all of the celebrity TV shows.  The King is found wrapped in some cloths and lying in a feed stall because there was no room for him.  If Donald Trump was told, “Sorry there is no room in the inn” somebody would surely have been fired, and he definitely wouldn’t have gone out to stay in the stable.

Our King, our Saviour, chose to be born that way, to live an ordinary and simple life, to be obedient to his mum and dad and his Father in heaven, to spend his time with the ordinary people of this world, just like you and me.  He could have acted all high and mighty like a spoiled celebrity but he didn’t and we should rejoice in that.  We should focus on that and be thankful to God.  This saviour isn’t beyond our reach, he comes to us, in our midst each and every day, as we will hear tomorrow morning he is the word become flesh to dwell among us.  He makes US holy and brings light into darkness.  He restores us to a right relationship with God the Father.

As we stand before him again, we look in wonder at that humble and lowly place that is depicted in all of our nativity scenes which became the birthplace of a king, as we look to those nativity scenes each Christmas we need to use them to remind us just how humble and loving Jesus was, to give up everything he had and come to earth and be as human as each and every one of us, to take our sins with him to the cross, so that one day we will be able to live with him in heaven forever.

As we rejoice with all of the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven let’s give thanks to God that he didn’t see himself as too good for us, but became like us and restored us for eternal joy.