Christmas: Then & Now

It’s obvious that Christmas today resembles nothing like the first Christmas.

Plenty of people contrast the original simplicity with our current excess. The reality of a pregnant woman with no sanitary place to give birth has been usurped by fir trees, light displays, pageants, and online purchases.

human-natureBut the two Christmases also have much in common. Human history has changed dramatically; human nature has not. The age of technology and materialism has not corrected human cynicism, competition, or selfishness.

In Matthew’s version of the birth of Christ (Matthew 2) we’re introduced to a villain, an anti-Christ by the name of Herod, and “all the chief priests and scribes of the people” (v.4). Herod, the regional ruler, gets wind of the birth of a potential political foe (Jesus) and wants to kill Him. He calls the religious scholars and leaders together and asks them where the Messiah (the new King) would be born. Interestingly, these Jewish leaders provide Herod with the precise prophecy (Micah 5:2) but apparently make no effort to go and check out the rumors themselves.

Just not interested.

Biblical stories, like all good stories, draw us in. But the Gospel writers do not intend to merely fascinate us. They want to challenge and confront us. They tell their stories so that we can understand both human nature (ourselves) and Divine grace more deeply.

Matthew makes Herod the chief figure in his version of the birth story. Why?

It is human nature to respond with hostility (Herod) or apathy (the religious elite) to anything or anyone who might change our status quo. And Jesus certainly does that, still. As others have said so often, “He comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

It’s appropriate that Christmas should be followed so quickly on our calendar by the New Year. If we welcome Christ unreservedly, then “old things pass away; behold, new things come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This Christmas, will we thoroughly and recklessly embrace the babe of Bethlehem who threatens to turn everything about us and within us upside-down? Or will we walk in the steps of Herod and the religious elite of that day? Hostility and apathy remain two of the most common responses to the coming of Christ.

Seems like Christmas hasn’t changed that much at all.

I’d like to take this moment to thank each of you who has graciously received “Because of Grace” throughout 2016. It has been a joy to share the Journey this year with you. May this Christmas and New Year season be filled with faith, hope, and love for each of you. Blessings. — David Timms

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14 Responses to Christmas: Then & Now

  1. Dan Owsley says:

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, Kim, and the family.

  2. Thanks David! Merry Christmas!

  3. Joyce Allan says:

    Can’t wait to see what flows from your pen (keyboard?) in 2017! Thanks for the constant challenge to dig deeper and grow ever closer to Christ. May you have a joyful Christmas!

  4. Jana Tiefenwerth says:

    Excellent thoughts to pull to the forefront this Christmas season! And though fallible man has not changed through time, neither has our infallible King! We can be thankful that He remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow! Praise God! The same power that raised Christ remains available to each of us today, just as He was available to heal, comfort and love mankind while he walked the earth. God is with us!

  5. Jeff Fuller says:

    Merry Christmas David to you and family, Jeff

    From: Because of Grace To: Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 1:39 PM Subject: [New post] Christmas: Then & Now #yiv6464142208 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6464142208 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6464142208 a.yiv6464142208primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6464142208 a.yiv6464142208primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6464142208 a.yiv6464142208primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6464142208 a.yiv6464142208primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6464142208 | David Timms posted: “It’s obvious that Christmas today resembles nothing like the first Christmas.Plenty of people contrast the original simplicity with our current excess. The reality of a pregnant woman with no sanitary place to give birth has been usurped by fir trees, l” | |

  6. Tim Lentz says:

    Thank you and merry Christmas, Dr. Timms!

  7. Jan Neff says:

    Your comments remind me of comments from the senior pastor where I attended years ago – before marriage and kids and grands!!! On Easter Sunday he wished the congregation a Merry Christmas! Followed by “Well, that will be the next time I see some of you!” He wasn’t interested in pastoring people who were just not interested because he knew eternity was at stake and was hoping to get their attention by that comment. Whether or not a person thinks that was a good idea, I’ve never forgotten it šŸ˜Š. It hit me this year how we have tried to make a big deal out of whether or not someone ways Merry Christmas when there was nothing merry about it for Jesus. So thanks again for causing me to stop and consider, think, make choices. Have a blessed season.

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