One of our favorite things we like to watch on TV are the sports interest stories like ESPN's 30 for 30 or the "feel good" stories they do during College Game Day. These stories inspire us, encourage us, and give us hope. Well, it is that time of year when we get celebrate the beginning of the greatest story ever told. This is my favorite time of year, not because of the presents or the cookies or the lights, but because we are reminded, once again, of a story that inspires us encourages us, and gives us hope.
"And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there were no room for them in the inn.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lords glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. "Do not be afraid!" I bring you you good news of great joy. The savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem" Luke 2:6-10
Like every great story there is an exciting beginning, an emotional middle, and a powerful ending. The story of Jesus is no different. The birth of Christ meant the birth of hope for nation: the Savior had been born. The one that was going to lead them. The one that was going save them. The one that was going to bring to life their hopes and dreams. THE MESSIAH. This truly was the good news that would be the world great joy.
Oh and the joy continued with this amazing life. The joy of seeing dead come to life. The hope of seeing blind men see. The dreams of seeing a man calm the storms after he walked on water. This baby that was once born in a manger truly is the Son of God. He truly is the Savior of the world.
And then the unthinkable happened. They crucified this man on a cross. What happened to our Savior? What happened to our hope? What happened to this good news of this great man that would bring us great joy? What happened to our dreams? His disciples had left their family's business and their families. People left careers. All for the hope they put into this one that was born that day in Bethlehem, but now he is dead and so were their hopes, dreams, and thoughts of restoring their nation and their lives....or so though they thought.
What people saw as an ending, God saw as another beginning: Our beginning.
Three days later this man rose from the dead...And the beginning of a new relationship with God our Father was born. The beginning of a relationship with Jesus, the son, was born. Our new life of hope was born. Hope that relationships can be saved. Hope that even though loved ones may die on this earth that we can see them again in heaven. Hope that when bad things happen, God will use those for good. Hope that we can love one another with unconditional love. Hope that our loved one will come into a relationship with Jesus. Hope that we are LOVED. He conquered death. He conquered hopelessness. He conquered loneliness. He conquered fear. He conquered worry. His life was resurrected and so was ours.When he rose...so did our hopes and dreams that we thought were dead.
I don't know what the Holiday season brings for you: joy of seeing family, pain of a missed loved one, excitement of church services, feelings of loneliness. BUT what I do know is you are welcomed at the manger because of what happened at the cross.
Here is to the celebration of beginnings: For Jesus and You!