This week, we welcomed in three new members to our church family -- Caleb Bruhn, Matt Ljung, and Eric Diemer. Make it a point to connect with them the next time you see them and welcome them to our FCC family personally.
And, as always, just in case I somehow forget to say it before I finish this, Merry Christmas!
This is always a fun time of year (and it’s usually a chilly time of year), but it can also be a stressful time of year for people. Everyone’s running this way and that, trying to finish up their last minute this and thats, preparing for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or whatever big Christmas festivities they’re gearing up for.
But the most important thing that you can focus on this year is the one, key thing that we should all be focusing on in the first place -- the worship of Jesus Christ. I know that it’s almost trite for a pastor to say, “Remember Christ in Christmas!” but the fact is, we all kinda need to be reminded of that on a regular basis. I’m amazed at how many people I mention that to agree with me, but then explain that they’re far too busy preparing a turkey or a ham or decorating their home for the holidays or (fill in the blank) to really focus their energies on putting Christ first this time of year. If all we ever do is focus on the trappings of Christmas, is it any wonder that we never really find ourselves growing much closer to the Christ of Christmas?
In our message this week, we continued our look at how Jesus compares with the other kings that Israel would’ve been familiar with and impressed with. Saul looked like a king, but his heart was wrong. David’s heart was right, but he didn’t always use wisdom to decide what to do. Solomon was the wisest man who’d ever lived (or ever would live), but his obedience to God was hampered by his baggage of sin and woundedness.
But when Isaiah looked forward to the Messiah, he saw a man who would make His decisions with wisdom, and whose heart would delight in the fear of the Lord... but, ironically, a man who wouldn’t look much like a king. As much as we want to make that manger event glowing and magical, as much as we like to picture Jesus as fair (and dressed in an amazingly white outfit for the time period), the fact is that all of the outward trappings of His life would’ve looked decidedly ordinary if we’d been around to see them.
But anyone who really examined His character could see that He was not even remotely ordinary. John the Baptist thought he wasn’t even worthy of being Christ’s lowest servant. Followers watching Jesus perform miracles wanted to forcibly make Him their king. People on the streets laid out palm branches and proclaimed Him the “king of Israel!” Even Pilate and the Romans declared Him the “king of the Jews,” if only derisively.
Too many of us try to focus on the trappings instead of the character of Jesus -- especially at Christmas time. We like the pageantry and the artificial majesty of it all, but we struggle when it comes down to actually making Him the honest-to-goodness, sovereign King of our lives.
As a Christmas gift to God this year, let’s try to stop and ask, “How does this honor my Lord?” with every comment we share, with every action we perform, with every attitude we defend. If that seems excessive to any of us, then perhaps we should ask ourselves instead, “Just what kind of King do I see Jesus as in my life?” We’ll all drop the ball here and there, of course -- but isn’t it worth spending at least a little bit of our Christmas time focusing more on the Christ than on the trappings?
And hey, if you really want to spend time focusing on Jesus Christ this Christmas, let me encourage you to join us (or at least some church family) for the annual Christmas Eve service, this Thursday at 6:30 pm...