Yesterday we celebrated the birth of a little baby who changed the world. Gospel writers Mark and Luke record the birth of Jesus with tales of angels, shepherds, and magi. We rejoice at the wonder of the miracle each year and never tire of Christmas!
But every mother knows that the birth of a baby isn’t all joy and mirth: a birth comes with modesty at the creation of a life, but it is also painful and messy. Deep groans accompany birth, unmistakable for their lack of words, but clearly telling of the deepness of the pain of labor. Childbirth is painful. God addressed Eve in the Garden after the Fall: “To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing” and Paul wrote to the Galatians (5:19): “My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”
We want Christmas to be warm and merry when we gather with family and friends, but in the end, the next day has come and not much has changed in our lives. Jesus has been born, but has our life really changed?
Just like Mary, what if God wants US to give birth to a new life? It will involve modesty, pain, and be messy; it will come with groans.
Rev. Leigh Spruill spoke at the 11PM service on Christmas Eve and remarked at how thankful he was for everyone’s hard work in preparing our beautiful church for the Christmas services. He also shared that there is a passageway behind the altar that is anything but beautiful. It is a dark, dusty area where old electrical cords, folding chairs, tattered hymnals and other cast-away items are stored haphazardly. The church always puts on its best appearance for Christmas services, wanting to impress our members and guests, but Rev. Spruill groans when he thinks about the ugliness and the hidden secret of that deep, dark passageway!
Do you have a hidden passageway in your life that you are ashamed of, perhaps an old failure, a nagging guilt that you can’t let go, or someone that you’ve never forgiven? Is there something in your life that you can’t admit to anyone else, let alone God?
The good news is that all our sins have been forgiven through the birth of Jesus, and He has conquered even our last enemy, death: “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised (1 Corinthians 15:26).
God is creating a new heaven, a new world, and a new you. If you go through the painful and messy process of letting Christ into the dirty passageway you keep hidden in your life, He will create a new you, settling down to be at home in all the rooms of your heart.
As we make New Year’s resolutions for 2012, are you willing to admit to your hidden passageway? Jesus’ death has already redeemed all our sins and God is ready to give birth to the new you.
Once we quit hiding, God will create in us a new life.
<Based upon excerpts from the sermon by Rev. Leigh Spruill, Christmas Eve 2011>