Wednesday, December 24, 2008

save. does it need a cross? do you need to spell it to know it?

Here is what I’ve just written as the sermonette for our family Christmas eve service. Back in theological college I had to write an essay – what does the Incarnation (birth and life of Jesus) have to do with the Atonement (death of Jesus)? What follows is an attempt to explore that at a kids level – to ask – what does Matthew 1:21 – Jesus will save his people – mean at Christmas and for the 33 years BEFORE the cross.

So Christmas is about God being a baby. All babies have a name and this one was named Jesus. Means – save. Because he will save people from their sins.

Save at Easter. But also save at Christmas.

Save at Christmas, because in the baby, in the manger, in the Incarnation, all the life of the universe, the one who made oceans and singing birds, who invented rough and tumble and carved the valleys …. all of that creating life was placed inside one human person.

Until Jesus at Christmas, we could turn to God and go “can’t save, can’t save. You’re in heaven, God and it’s easy up there. Come down here and try to be a human. Come down here and try to be a Christian to my sister. Come down here and have to forgive the people who pick on me at school. Can’t save. Can’t save.”

Until Jesus at Christmas, in the baby, when all the creating life is placed inside a human life. And now a human can save. Can save. Paul calls this a new Adam. Because when all the life of the universe is placed inside the baby Jesus, God can save and a human can be redeemed.

The second save at Christmas happens when the baby grows. Which means we get to see what “salvation” actually looks like. Not as an idea. Not as a set of rules. Not as a word. But inside a person.
We get to see salvation in a baby, with marconium and through sleepless nites,
as a toddler, teething and trying to talk
as a 3-4 year old, learning to play nicely with friends
at school, learning to sit still, to read and write and listen to a teacher,
as a teenager, with pimples and hormones

That’s the second save, that because of Christmas, we get to see salvation and see it grow. See what it looks like inside a person.

Which means that salvation is never only for adults. If it was good enough for Jesus, to live “saved” as a toddler and as a teen, then it’s good enough for all of us, no matter our size.

Sometimes adults look at children and go – “oh, grow up.”

Sometimes children look at adults and go – “oh, this is for big people.”

But if this Jesus was sent to save, and if the saving started as a baby, not as an adult, then saving is for for any age, for big people and for little people.

And so you have a nappy. A clean nappy. They go on a baby. And in response, to carols, readings, story, you are invited come and to place it on the manger. We’re going to sing Silent nite. You are invited to come and lay your nappy on the manger. You might want to pray:

Thankyou Jesus for wanting to save. For wanting to save me, for wanting to save my family, for wanting to save my world.

Or please. Please, Spirit of Jesus, enter into my life and help me grow as a person saved, whether toddler, teen or adult, Amen.

So what do you think? What does the life of Christ mean for our understandings of salvation? Can you talk about salvation from Christmas? Or should one always bring in Easter?

Posted by steve at 09:55 PM

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