By Tim Sheridan
The ‘Christmas story’ is one for people who are desperate.
It’s pretty hard to admit ever feeling so. But it starts with the sign.
Reading the story of the birth of Jesus in the Bible, we bump into these words – “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
This isn’t the quaint manger scene we are used to with our nativity sets – it is a smelly stable where the animals are kept and the only place suitable to lay the newborn baby is in the trough where the animals would eat.
God has come to the earth – but in a way that nobody would have expected – a baby in a feed trough to a young teenage couple.
A Maple Ridge version of the story would sound something like this:
A young teenage couple from East Vancouver hitchhike back to Maple Ridge. They arrive late at night and don’t even have enough money to afford a room at the local motel. They check the shelter and it’s full. Mary is about to give birth – so they make their way to the closest gas station. There in the bathroom stall – on the cold, wet floor – they give birth to a son.
Joseph goes outside and finds an old dirty sweatshirt in the alley. And he wraps the baby in it to keep him warm. Mary cleans up while Joseph goes back outside, finding some cardboard boxes to put their baby in and he lines it with old flyers and newspapers.
As they get settled, the door knocks. Three homeless people had just seen an angel who announced to them Jesus’ birth and they come to see the sign that the angels told them about.
Why did God come like this?
Because only the desperate can experience the real meaning of the Christmas story.
The desperate know that they are in a life and death situation.
They know that they can’t save themselves.
The situation they find themselves in is helpless and they have no power to change it.
The God of the Bible saw the desperate situation we find ourselves in. Because our situation is so desperate, he couldn’t have come any other way. He had to plunge himself into the desperateness of our situation.
Some say that Christianity is for those who need a crutch. No.
Our situation is much more desperate than that. You don’t throw a crutch to someone who has passed out and is laying face down on the ground.
No – Christianity is more like a rescue operation. We are without hope. Our situation is much more desperate.
That’s why Jesus came.
To rescue desperate people.
Tim Sheridan is pastor at Maple Ridge Christian Reformed Church