Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us. Why do we gather this night? Why do so many of us brave the ice, the cold, the idiot drivers that do not stop at the 4-way stop sign to gather this evening? For some of us, this may be one of the few times that we actually drag ourselves to church. What do we hope to see? What do we expect to see? What do we hope to feel? What do we expect to feel?
No doubt many of us gathered here tonight hope to feel joy. No doubt many of us hope to feel peace. No doubt many of us hope to feel love. Given the uncertainties of life in the world right now, sometimes we long desperately for such wonderful, warm feelings. It is awfully hard to feel joy or peace when you are worried whether your place of employment is going to lay you off. It is awfully hard to feel peace or joy when you are battling a disease or illness in your life. It is awfully hard to feel peace or joy in your life when you are forced, by the season, to confront the various family dysfunctions present in your relationships. Perhaps you are made to feel like a freeloader because you lack the resources to purchase the gifts others in your life so strongly desire. Perhaps you are forced to confront behaviors of addictions or abuse which, if you had your preference, you would avoid altogether. And so you come to see this wonderful thing that has taken place, to search for those wonderful feelings which every commercial on television shows every person and every family having. You probably come longing for the joy, the peace, and the love so desperately missing in your life. And do you find it?
In the hustle and bustle of the season, in the midst of the advertising, in the rush from party to party, it is easy to fall into the trap that this season will be the perfect one. And when it does not happen, the depression sets in. Brother and sisters, seekers and doubters, what did you come to see? An innocent babe in a nativity scene? A choir of angels lifting their voices to God and your heart? A sense of calm? A sense of peace?
We often forget, but the world into which He was born was every bit as hectic, every bit as dark as our own sometimes seems to be. A despot, Herod, was on the throne in Jerusalem who had no consideration for human life. An empire had conquered and oppressed God’s people. Life was hard. Life was cheap. And nobody seemed to care.
And into that world came this wonderful, awe-inspiring babe! Into that dark world shined this amazing light! This wonderful babe taught the shepherd and us that God cared. This wonderful God Incarnate reminded each and everyone who saw him and who later heard the Gospel message that they were loved by God! And let us not forget, this innocent babe came to walk the road to Calvary, the road of the cross to save all of God’s people. Life may not have mattered to Herod or the Romans, but it sure mattered to God! You life, your security may not matter much to your company or your bank, but it sure matters to your Father in heaven. His presence in that manger so long ago reminds each of us just how much we need him, His walk to Calvary reminds us all how much He loves us. And secure in that love, safe in that knowledge, you and I can face the world and shine like these candles we are about to light and so draw the world, dark and discouraging as it is, to His saving light!