This past Sunday we had our children’s Christmas pageant at my church Cornerstone Community Church (aka the coolest Southern Baptist Church in Winthrop, Maine). It was a delight to watch all the young kids, and several of our older ones as well, retell the familiar story of Christ’s birth. We had it all, the shining star in the East, the “bearded” wise men, the angel choir (yea we know in real life they are not always so angelic), even some serious looking shepherds complete with a couple of little “sheep” who got bored and wandered off into the audience to see their parents, friends and generally whatever else was going on. More than once their little faces popped up over the back of the front row of chairs to wave and smile at you. But is that not what makes these pageants so memorable and enjoyable, the raw honestly of them and the pure enjoyment the parents, grandparents, et all get from watching?
The star player in our pageant this year was a live baby who naturally was our baby Jesus, this child is a foster child that our pastor and his family have recently welcomed into their home. I so admire our pastor and his wife, their lives are a living testimony to following the will of God, whatever course that might take. Now understand that Pastor Scot, his wife Nicki and three kids are not native Mainer’s. No they come from deep down south so all this snow, cold and otherwise “normal” New England culture (read: cold shoulders and lack of overall conversation skills) has been well – culture shock to them. How they got here in our little town is all about following the call of God. They felt a calling to move and serve Him and uprooted their lives and young family and came to Maine leaving their friends, family and home church behind to be a pastor of a plant church. In a word – they said YES.
Now, having lived in Maine for a couple of years they felt the call to open their home and hearts and bring another person into their already busy home of three children by becoming foster parents. Recently they were asked to foster a new-born baby and willingly agreed to the opportunity. In a word – they said YES.
I think it is perfectly fitting that our newest member of our church had the role of Jesus this past Sunday as it is a perfect reminder that the Christmas story is one full of opportunities to say YES.
God our heavenly father willingly gave his only son Jesus to leave heaven and come to earth as a human so he could live and die for our salvation. In a word – God said YES.
Mary a virgin, engaged to be married, was visited and told she would become pregnant and give birth to a child. Now take that in within the context of the society and culture from which Mary lived and it’s not exactly the easiest of propositions to ponder. Unmarried single mothers didn’t have MTV shows about them back in those days, instead they were outcasts and sometimes worse. The stigma and consequences could have been immense, but Mary did not waver in her agreement. In a word – Mary said YES.
Consider also her soon-to-be husband Joseph. His bride to be suddenly is pregnant and it’s not by him or even another man, but by the Holy Spirit. How do you explain that one around the water cooler at work? That’s a lot to deal with and Joseph even considered quietly ending the engagement, yet Joseph was visited by an angel and told to go through with the wedding and take Mary has his wife and the unborn baby as his own to raise. Despite his initial reservations and doubts and the potential stigma and talk behind his back, Joseph agreed. In a word – Joseph said YES.
Flash forward a few dozen years and Jesus is now an adult and his work on earth is drawing to an end and his death by crucifixion is at hand. He knows he is about to give his life by one of the most extreme and torturous methods of death ever known to man, even at one point have his own father turn his back on him as the weight of the worlds sins is on his shoulders, but in doing so he will save the rest of humanity for all eternity if only they will believe in Him. In a word – Jesus said YES.
Each of us, you and I have a choice to make. Do we accept the amazing gift given to us by Christ in his death and resurrection (more on that come Easter) and offering of eternal salvation or do we simply dismiss it as religious mumbo jumbo or some sort of dogma? In a word – will YOU say YES?
Christmas is a season that can easily become over run with all the bells, whistles, lights and chaos that our modern world places on the season. But let us not forget the real meaning and message of Christmas when the little word YES had literally life changing consequences. Let’s say YES to the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.
“She will give birth to a Son, and you are to call His name JESUS for He it is who will save His People from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (Weymouth New Testament)