12/4/05, A-2-B

“The Baby Changed Everything”
Mark 1: 1-8

here is something magical about the announcement of the birth of a baby.  Our family has a soon to be arrival to announce! Our Candice, and her husband Brian Garrison, are expecting a baby girl on April 15th. We will have to get our taxes filed early this year.

Christmas has taken on a new excitement this year. We are actually expecting a grandchild to be born; and her preliminary name will be called Charlotte.

Our family, including Aunt Lyn and Uncle Gerald, is in a time of waiting and preparation; in some ways like Jesus’ parents, and probably their extended family too, were awaiting the birth of the Baby Jesus.

All of life takes on a new focus when a baby is on the way. Marilyn and I bought our grandchild a tee-tiny jumper outfit seven weeks ago in a Times Square tourist trap. It is embroidered, "I Love New York!" It cost too much, but we had to have it; and someday she will love New York too. Later we found out it’s a girl, thanks to a sonogram, and now everything we buy for Charlotte is pink. 

Matthew chapter 2, Mark chapter 1, and Luke chapter 2 are some of the most often read chapters in the entire Bible because they tell the story of a Baby coming who will change everything. The first New Testament book of Matthew, after a long first chapter of Jesus’ genealogical history, tells of Jesus’ birth relative to the political problem of Eastern, perhaps Zoroastrian, Wise Men coming to find the baby who would change the world. The Wise Men recognized the eternal consequences of this one baby’s birth.

Mark’s more concise biography of Jesus omits the birth story and deals with the problem of making a transition from the religion of the Hebrew’s exclusivity and the theology of inclusiveness that would be introduced through The New Covenant. His emphasis is on John the Baptist who would prepare the way for Jesus to soon proclaim a New Covenant based upon the love, forgiveness and grace through which all people would be invited into the new plan. It sounds a bit like how we have to enroll in a new insurance company and plan whenever our employer changes carriers.

Luke, the third book in the chronicles of Jesus, is the only gospel that begins with Jesus birth; albeit, his long first chapter builds anticipation with the detailed events leading up to the actual birth. It is more like the Advent Season when we know that the baby is soon coming, but we need to first prepare the way by purchasing baby clothes, cribs and we painting a bedroom pink. The plans were interrupted by Joseph and Mary having to make a long trip from Nazareth down to the little town of Bethlehem to enroll for the census; which was another way to get taxes out of the Jews who were under military occupation by the Roman Empire. "And while they were there (in Bethlehem) 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 was no room for them in the village inn." (Luke 2: 6-7, NLT)

John’s gospel, written by the Apostle John and best friend of Jesus, begins the story with a theological explanation of what had happened in humanity’s relationship with God as a result of the Christ Event. John penned his account, it seems to me, after Jesus’ death and resurrection and after he had come to understand the eternal scope of the greatest story ever told.

If these four independently compiled gospels had to be combined under one title I think that title could be, “THE BABY CHANGED EVERYTHING!”

But the existential question is: Has it changed us?

This whole effort at having Christmas is lost on us if it does not effect change in us.

It only works when the experience of knowing Him actually penetrates our soul.

You see, it’s all about the experience that we allow to grasp us from the inside out.

You get home from a trip to Paris and people ask, “How was it? Those who have previously been captivated by the fabulous art and culture of Paris will ask a deeper question, “How did Paris change you?”

This Friday, millions of Americans will go to the premier showing of the Disney epic motion picture based on C. S. Lewis’ first children’s book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”  It has a great deal of symbolism in which you will see Christian theology. The purpose that Lewis had in the metaphors was to prepare children’s hearts to fall in love with Jesus by realizing that Aslan, King of Narnia is the Christ figure; “The King of the forest and the Son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the Sea.” In other words the Emperor (God) sent his son Aslan (son Jesus) to save His people. Also, the beloved Lion willingly dies in the place of Edmund, one of the four Pevensie children. At sunrise weeping girls arrive to hear a great cracking noise and the Stone Table is broken in half and the body is gone and then they hear Asian’s resurrected voice.

Be sure to pay attention because people are going to ask you, when they find out you’ve been, “How did you like it?” and some Christians will ask a deeper question, “Well, how did it affect you? Or, “How did it change you?” It is just not enough to know the story line and facts; but, “How did it change your life, the real live Babe of Bethlehem, that is?”  “Did it affect you at all?”

The one who is mightier has baptized us with God’s Holy Spirit:  The Baby Has Changed Everything, and has changed us!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
12/4/05, A-2-B