New Cradle for the Christ
by Pastor Rick Sams
I just recently read of one of the most unique ideas for a memorable Christmas Eve service.* Pastors are always looking for unusual ways to tell the Christmas story given so many have heard it so many times. It’s not that “familiarity breeds contempt” so much as it can breed complacency.
I calculate in my nearly 41 years at my current church I’ve preached around 160 sermons since I’ve often done a sermon series for the four weeks of Advent.
There are roughly only 39 verses in the Bible on the Christmas story. That’s a LOT of sermons out of 39 verses!
So one pastor, in a flash of creativity (or insanity), spread manure* in the sanctuary to help people get a real feel for the stable where Jesus was born. I’m guessing when people walked in it wasn’t quite the Hallmark Christmas card moment many want. My gut tells me his trustees were none too pleased and his tenure none too long. Aren’t there better ways to put yourself into the Christmas story?
Actually Jesus wants to put the Christmas story into YOU. He longs to have a place, not in a manger, but in a man…in YOU.
Paul agonized (a term right out of the labor-delivery room) to help the people he served become more like Jesus, because that’s what God wants: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…and we…are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord…” (Galatians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
The cradle that contained Jesus that first Christmas was a manger. But now God is looking for a man. As preacher Phillips Brooks wrote in his classic sermon title, God wants “a new cradle for the Christ”…YOU!