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A Trip To Bethlehem!

Micah 5: 2

Take a trip with me to Bethlehem.
Let us visit the city where our Savior was born.
We must make the road to Christmas, the road to Bethlehem if we are to keep Christmas, Christian.

Holiday or holy day?
What is Christmas for you -- holiday or holy day?
How essential in your Christmas joy is the Christmas story?

Christmas is meant to be a joyous time.
But it means joy about the Saviour -- not joy without the Saviour.
At the center of our celebration is the shining fact that the Babe of Bethlehem is born.

This is the good tidings that came from eternity into time giving to our joy the quality of permanence.
The true reason for rejoicing is Jesus' birth.
Without Christ, the deeper meanings of Christmas are gone.
This is the fact of Christmas, that God has entered the life of man, in order that, man might find new life in God.

The familiar carol expresses it well: "Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day!"

This belief in the holy birth makes Christmas a song of joy, a glowing radiance, and a spirit of kindness
in a rough and ruthless world.
It is truly a "Merry Christmas," only to those who know the meaning of the manger -- only to those
to whom the holiday is a holy day.

Fact to faith!

The Christmas fact must become the Christmas faith.

Most of us are so harried and hurried in Christmas preparations that we lose sight of what we are celebrating
and know only that we must get on with it or we will never be ready for Christmas.
The truth is that we will never be ready for Christmas until we are ready in spiritual understanding.
When the Christmas fact becomes a living faith for us, our hearts begin to sing; and all of life glows
with the glory that only God can give.

"Though Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born
And not within thyself,
Thy soul will be forlorn

Christmas is a time to renew our faith in the experience of love and devotion.
It is a time for coming into the presence of the Christ Child.
It is Immanuel -- God with us -- to find new heart and hope!

What a challenge the Christmas Gospel presents to our timid faith!
Salvation is here!

"God gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth upon him should not perish,
but inherit eternal life
." (John 3:16)
In Him is life -- not just for today, or tomorrow, or next year, but forever.

Christmas is the season when God calls us to cast out our fears, concerning what the world is coming to,
and to take heart over He who has come to the world! The high cost of Christmas!
We often think that Christmas is expensive for us -- in a deeper sense, it is expensive for God.
The joy of salvation is costly!

John Milton put it like this in his, "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity":

"The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss.

We should be profoundly humbled by the cost of Christmas, for God paid a great price, in order that,
Christ might bring us the good news that we often take so casually.
Here is the real meaning of Christmas: a sinless God is touching a sinful world to redeem it at great cost to Himself.

Christmas calls for moral cleansing!
Not only must our material house be made clean for the coming of company, the house of our heart
must likewise be made clean for the coming of the eternal and redeeming Christ.
Only when we invite Him to cast out our sin can He enter in and fill our lives with the glory of His love and light.

His day -- not ours!

What can we give Him who has given so much to us?
Christmas is His day, not ours.
What greater gift could we give than ourselves?

Would Christ not value most the gift of Christian commitment resulting in a Christian witness?
Only by giving ourselves can we truly honor Him.

There is a lovely legend concerning the glowworm.
This tiny little creature -- as the legend goes -- was present at the first Christmas. The glowworm wondered if it, too, might go to the manger and perhaps, even bring a little gift.
At that time the little glowworm was a very ordinary insect.
Yet, it felt the glory and thrill of the first Christmas.

So it uncovered a seed of grain that it had hidden against a bad day.
This was its one treasure.

The little creature would give it to the Christ Child.
Laboriously, the glowworm made its way, pushing, carrying, pulling, and dragging the grain for the Christ Child.

At last, the glowworm arrived at the manger where the Babe was lying.
Mary and Joseph stood nearby.

The glowworm was so small that the human eye could hardly see it.
But the Baby Jesus saw it; and, as the glowworm made one supreme effort, and pushed its treasure
into His infant hand, a loving smile appeared upon the Baby's face.

A tiny hand reached out -- or, so it seemed -- and touched the little creature.

Immediately, the glowworm began to glow with happiness in response to the Christ Child's love.
It has been glowing ever since, the legend affirms, as a perpetual witness to the glory of the touch of Christ.

This is only a legend, of course.
But it portrays an eternal truth.

Anyone who experiences the touch of Christ will experience the glow of a radiant life.
This is the Christmas blessing that God intends for all!

Christ can set our lives aglow, not only with joy and peace, but with the perpetually, renewing power of Christmas.

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
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