Friday, December 25, 2015
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It was a Kleenex moment that Christmas season, for sure. Like the first Christmas, there was a newborn baby involved. But no manger. How about a Jumbotron screen at an Anaheim Ducks hockey game, of all places?
Sergeant First Class Robert Vandenberg had been gone for ten months. He'd never seen his newborn son. He was far away in Afghanistan when little Travis was born. So all eyes were on the big screen when he appeared suddenly to – at least in this small way – be "home" for Christmas.
Skype from Romania. That's how his wife, and his one-year-old son, little Travis would make a connection this Christmas season. But with thousands watching this touching reunion by screen, the technology Grinch suddenly showed up. There was barely time for "hellos" before the sergeant started disappearing in a spasm of static. Sadly, his wife handed the microphone back to a team rep.
At that very moment, Sergeant Vandenberg walked down the steps of the arena and right into the arms of his wife! Then he picked up his new son and held him up in front of him – looking in his eyes for the very first time.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Coming Home for Christmas."
I don't know if they sell Kleenex at the stadium concession stands, but if they do, you can bet they sold out that night. I confess I reached for some when I saw it on TV. I think one of the reasons it touched me is that I saw something else in that moving reunion. I saw the first Christmas. I saw myself.
Christmas – when a God we thought was so far away came down to where we are. To hold us close. In fact, the ancient prophecy of the coming Messiah predicted it. And it's our word for today from the Word of God recorded in Matthew 1:23, "'A virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, 'God with us'". Not just God projected on the screen of some church or religion. But God right here. God up close.
Too often, though, He has seemed far away hasn't He? Like there's a lot of distance between me and the God I really need. It turns out that distance is not just a feeling. It's real. But it's not God's fault. It's mine.
Let's face it, I've wanted to believe in God, but I also want to run my own life. In essence, occupying the driver's seat in my life; a life He gave me. We have, in the words of the Bible, "left God's path to follow our own" (Isaiah 53:6 NLT) and at great cost. Isaiah 59:2 says, "Your sins have cut you off from God." Actually, I knew that. I think we can all feel the distance.
But then...Christmas. As Linus so eloquently quoted to Charlie Brown, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11 KJVA). In that stable in Bethlehem, God stepped out of eternity and into time. So He could step into my life and your life and change it forever. Not God as a fuzzy image. Not God far away. God with us. With me. In my home. In my office. In the doctor's office. In my grief. In my loneliness. In my pain. In "the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalm 23:4 KJVA).
But it would come at great expense to Jesus, because 33 years later, the hands of the Bethlehem baby would be nailed to a Roman cross. And today, this one who loved you enough to die for you, who came that Christmas for you and me reaches out and says, "On this Christmas day, would you give yourself to Me?" He's been waiting a long time. He's ready now for you to come. You can tell it by the tug you feel in your heart. That won't always be there.
So, right now while you can, say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Go to our website if you want more information about this. It's ANewStory.com. You want to talk with someone about what it means to belong to Him? Well, you can text us at 442-244-WORD.
See, Jesus came in Bethlehem to go to a cross so God could be your Father. And so you could be the child in His arms.