Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You Coming?

The faint sounds of the old piano were drifting.  It was the cue to start the processional down the long, lonely aisle.  It was Christmas Eve, and nervous hearts of Sunday Schoolers were about to perform lines and lines of memorized scripts and songs.  Decking the halls, was the smell of crisp, freshly starched white shirts, cinnamon and evergreen boughs.  The boys stood wringing their little hands hoping they remember their lines, the girls pranced in their new red velvet and plaid frocks.  All the Sunday afternoon practices were leading up to this night...the long awaited and annual production of the nativity story.

As the organist pounds the keys, all emotions are immediately jolted.  The notes engaged the shy and humble score, escalating into full blown production of pounding hearts.  As we stood perfectly straight at the entrance of the auditorium, each parental eye was trained on their own loved one.  Their view was one of anticipation, our view was one of trepidation.  "Let's not forget why we are here", whispered the director. It's Christmas Eve!"

We stepped into our entranced pace down that long, lonely aisle.  Eyes on the big stage.  Anxious smiles greeted each young face as we passed through the parting of the sea of smiles.  The memorized melodies we sang entered the hearts of all...

O Come All Ye Faithful...

joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him, born the King of Angels:
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, 
let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

I really didn't take the words to heart until later in life.  At that time, it was just a Children's Christmas program.  We were mostly making our way to the end of the night to get the brown bag of candy and fruit.  The goodies were predictable, an apple, a candy cane, some nuts and some of that hard ribbon candy your only grandma would buy.

As we performed the practiced lines one by one, the invitation was given to the faithful.  The dedicated, the lost, the lonely, the lingering.

O Come All Ye Faithful was a hymn that was written as an invitation to come to see Jesus at the manager.  After all, Mary and Joseph didn't send out birth announcements. They didn't need to...they had the angels and the shepherds.  The verses speak of being joyful and triumphant, as we often are when a baby was born, but this little guy was special.  

His birth was epic, one of Royal priesthood, boasting a Wonderful Counselor and and announcing the Prince of Peace.  His birth held deliverance, promise, and unknown hope.  All of a sudden, as he laid in the manager, his destiny was pronounced, the nativity came alive, and all of heaven and earth was glowing.  All from one small little Life swaddled in some hay.  

The manager scene still calls us today.....oh come, come close and see....experience the Presence.  God calls for all of us draw near....as this song invites.

Who needs to come to the manger?  The weary, the burdened, the busy, the stressed...all of us.

Why do we need to come to the manger?  That's where joy is.  The visit builds hope, anticipation, peace.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you… Luke 2:10-11 NIV

What do we leave at the manger?  Our worries, our problems, our cares.

What can we take away from the manger?  Joy, peace, and Love.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. 
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever…Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV

What is the result of our manger experience?  Faith is born, faith is restored, faith grows.  

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… Hebrews 12:2

What can we remember about the baby Jesus?  That He is.  He is God incarnate.  That it's true, not a make believe production by some children only at Christmas.  

Immanuel, God with us.  

God's got your back today, tomorrow, forever.  Remember.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Isaiah 43:2-3

Remember as you pass through to the end of your journey.  God is real, God is with you.  

Oh come, let us ADORE Him.  Please come....

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