God is a global God. Therefore, Christmas is for the whole world. God is the Earth Peace-Giver. So Christmas has to be delivered to the Earth, all of it. We’re in the last talk about maximizing the meaning of Christmas by missionizing the mystery of Christmas, that if we don’t maximize the meaning, we are amateur, inept, and incompetent. We are premature, half done, and even unborn. We are immature, foolish, and childish.
To maximize means to find its full meaning. And live according to that meaning is the meaning of Christmas, to missionize it. Because that’s what was in God’s mind when he sent his one and only Son to the world. It was not just for the sake of a few in one location and one time. It was for the whole world, which is how I got in and which is how you got in.
This is beauty. This is mystery. While culture has the magic of Christmas in all its lovely trappings– and we must enjoy those– in their celebration, let’s not forget the Christmas meaning of Christmas, in celebration of the God who became man so that we can have life into the future. These three talks have all come from the first dialogues of the book of Luke, in the announcement of the arrival of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
They have also been turned into carols that all of us have sung– actually, Christians, throughout history. I do remember going to Bath, England, a couple of Christmases ago. I was in a small church, totally anonymous, at Christmastime in their family carol evening, to sing as loudly as I could, as off key as I could, but with as much passion as I could, these three carols. The first one was “Hail, Favored One, Ave Maria.” The second one was “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” “Glory to God in the Highest.”
This third one comes from the chapter where Luke speaks of an old man in Israel. In Chapter 2, he addresses Simeon’s situation, who used to pray for the coming of the Messiah. Seriously in the temple, he prayed. Luke says, it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death till the Messiah had come.
And so when Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph, with whom she was betrothed, this virgin-born son was brought to the temple. Simeon held this baby in his hand. And he uses a phrase which has been Latinized. In Latin, it’s called “Nunc Dimittis”
or “now dismiss.” Now dismiss your servant. My eyes have seen something spectacular.
And I want you to look at the words of Simeon: this baby is salvation for the world, is light for the world, the Gentiles and the glory of Israel, being born in Israel, but for the sake of the whole world, a baby, salvation. Because the human race is filled with loss and lack, a distance from God, which has broken our world, made it wretched, that there is darkness. That’s why we need light.
Our world is filled with crisis after crisis. We’ve been calling it polycrises in other such presentations. Where the individual crisis would have been enough, but the multiplication of crisis, the total impact is so powerful and so far-reaching, there is really no hope for the human situation unless God comes through, my friend.
God comes through because he’s the global God. God comes through because he’s the God of peace. People are looking for peace. But God comes through to the human situation because he offers salvation through a little baby, who was born just like the rest of us in terms of human development, but was birthed unlike the rest of us, born of a virgin. And only God could have done that, so that this baby would not be tainted by fallenness and sinfulness, that feature us, and he could become the Savior, the Light to the entire world.
Some time ago, a woman came back from the supermarket. As she started her car, she felt a gun in her head. A man had popped up from the back seat, put the gun, and said, get out. The lady had just enough time to dial the emergency police number 911 here and threw it to the toddler. The toddler had it.
The man was starting the car, but the baby reached out and fell on the steering wheel, not knowing that it alerted the police. And this baby became the rescuer of her mother, who was locked in the back of the car.
Humanity is locked in the back of the car. There came a baby leaning against the horn. And God became the rescuer of everyone in the human race who wanted to be rescued.
This is the story of Christmas. It’s a salvation to the world, the Light to the nations, to the Gentiles, because the world is locked, fallen, endangered, and there needs to be light in the darkness. Having been locked in the back. The world is endangered in darkness.
Some time ago, I heard a Congolese pastor. And he said, we’ve got to reach Congo, especially the Zaire River, the Old Congo River. He said, we’ve got to send a message to Congolese cities, Congolese communities, Congolese churches, Congolese nation, and Congolese trees. And we wondered, what did he mean by Congolese trees?
Well, in Congolese trees are where the pygmies live. These are men of short stature who lived there, hunter-gatherers, for a very long time. And this pastor had a heart that everyone in this nation should hear, should have salvation, should have the Light of the world.
If you want to maximize the meaning of Christmas, you want to missionize the mystery of Christmas, not to simply add magic to the moment, but to missionize the mystery, to get it out to the whole world, anywhere, anybody, at any time. And then you can finish out your life. Now dismiss.
God is the global God. That’s the lesson of “Ave Maria.” He is the son of the Most High one. The God is a peace giver on Earth to men with whom he’s well pleased. That is the thrust of Luke Chapter 2 and the dialogue with the shepherds.
The third song is that God is the light for the nations, and this baby brings salvation to the whole world. We will not be amateur and premature and immature in celebrating Christmas. We’ll be mature. We’ll maximize the meaning of Christmas by missionizing the mystery of Christmas. Ah, no wonder there’s another famous carol which says, Go tell it on the mountains that Jesus Christ is born, that Jesus Christ is Lord.