Monday was Christmas.
This holiday appears on the calendar every year and every year each parishioner settles in to hear a similar sermon on Christ’s birth, while every year the preacher tries to figure out a creative and fresh way to tell the story each one of us basically has memorized. It’s enough to give the message-bearer heartburn. How do I give pizzazz to this well-worn story? How do I put a new twist on this tired, old tale to excite others about Jesus?
As I sat down to write this message, I felt the same anxiety. How do I write about the story that has been written about a million times over? Do people really need to hear it again and again and again?
The simple answer is, YES! When we look at the world around us, we see an Earth overrun with lost sheep desperately seeking a purpose. We see chaos, despair, anger, hate. Clearly the retelling of this story of hope is not making a dent in our society. Apparently we DO need to hear it over and over again.
However, as Christians, it’s not our job to give pizzazz to this story. It’s the GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD without all the Hollywood special effects and action sequences we’re accustomed to. The story by itself is exciting and fantastic without them.
The importance of Christ humbling himself and coming to Earth to live among us cannot be overstated. It is about God’s salvation to humanity and His outreach to His creation by making Himself known to us. It is beautiful in its simplicity.
Those of us who are called to proclaim the truth of that message can’t allow it to become so familiar that we lose the passion for telling it. It’s true the facts surrounding the story of Jesus’ birth don’t change (Mary, Joseph, manger, angels, shepherds), but the depth of the story’s meaning and its beauty can still be plumbed over and over again. When you are telling it, remember, it doesn’t need any extra effects. It’s already special without them.