Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… My wife, Marilyn, and I visited Bethlehem during a trip to the Holy Land, and it was the biggest disappointment of our tour.
Our tour bus passed by unkempt homes and derelict cars as we drove along the main street. The gate to the nativity gardens was locked. We were told the priest had gone into town for a beer at a local watering hole.
We had such huge expectations for Bethlehem: romantic thoughts of sheep dotting the landscape, white-washed stones and a beautiful church. Wow, were we ever disappointed.
Mary and Joseph entered Bethlehem and were also met with disappointment. No inn had vacancy—only a modest animal stall was available. A small beacon of hope began to flicker that would soon burst into bright, beaming sunlight.
A Saviour was born, a baby. God as a baby? It’s unbelievable to think about. A helpless infant, unable to talk or hold his own bladder; it’s inconceivable. Only God could come up with this plan: Mohammed revealed himself as a prophet, Buddha as an enlightened philosopher, Moses as an appointed messenger, but only Jesus revealed Himself as God.
Jesus received gifts fit for only a king. Three wise men followed a star in search of a saviour and each humbly honoured Jesus with a gift. Each gift had a definite symbolic meaning:
· Gold is a gift meant for royalty: the infant lying in the manger was the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords.
· Myrrh, a perfumed spice, was used to embalm the dead: this gift foreshadowed Jesus’ death on the cross.
· Frankincense was incense burned in the great Temple of Jerusalem: it symbolized prayer as smoke from the burning incense ascended on high.
Prayer, by its very nature, implies our need for communion with God. It speaks of our longing for relationship with our Heavenly Father. Christianity is first and foremost a faith founded on:
· A person, rather than a philosophy
· A who, rather than a what
· A relationship, rather than rules
We get a chance this Christmas to share this wonderful truth with family, friends, work colleagues, school mates and strangers. We get to introduce them to their Saviour, to help spiritually lost people understand that Christ was born in a cradle, only to die on a cross. Three wise men sought out Jesus. I believe there are still “wise” men, women, students and children seeking him in 2014. People who want to give him a gift… their heart and life. Let’s go find them!
I’d love to hear from you. What is your church planning to do this Christmas to help “wise people” find Christ? What was the response from your efforts? Did anyone receive the gift of salvation? Please take a moment and reply to this email. I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a blessed week,