This is my 2020 Christmas Eve sermon. The video follows this text, below.
We don’t like intrusions into our world from outside. It makes us nervous. It makes us insecure. It makes us scared!
It’s why UFOs fascinate so many of us. Is it true? Could it be real? Is there actually life “out there?”
It’s why movies about Martians and aliens are so sinister. They always have better technology. They always want to hurt us, and they always scare us.
Those Martian movies are always variations on the same theme:
- The arrival—dark, mysterious, sinister, and especially scary music! What does it mean!?
- The confrontation—they present their demands, often at the point of a ray-gun, and their demands are usually evil. What do they want, and do they plan to hurt us!?
- The struggle—we reject their demands, and war begins. Will the invaders win?
In short, those Martian and alien narratives are pretty simple. We’re the good ones, and the extra-terrestrials are the evil ones. So … shall evil triumph over good? Of course not!
The Christmas story is also about an invasion from another world—but the script we’re used to has been flipped all upside down.
Jesus is that visitor from outside this system who’s come to our alien world. It didn’t used to be an alien world, but it’s become one because we’ve neglected it. We’ve ruined it. We and our world are like a garden that was once beautiful 500 years ago, but is now an overgrown mess of thorns, nettles, garbage and rats.
The bible tells us about Jesus’ arrival:
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
This arrival isn’t dark, mysterious or sinister. There are no spaceships landing in dark cornfields or hovering over city skylines. No explosions. No otherworldly creatures. No exotic technology. And, no frightening music. There’s only an angelic choir, singing to shepherds in their fields at night about a special visitor from the world beyond. And there’s no mystery about what it means—God has come to bring perfect peace to those with whom He’s pleased!
Not just in its arrival, but also in its confrontation, God’s invasion is different from our expectations. Instead of entering this world and making demands at the point of a ray-gun, God has sent His Son to hold out His hand and say, “I’ve come to rescue you from yourself! Won’t you come with me?”
The script we’re so used to has been flipped because our roles are actually different than we think:
Though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD
What God’s telling us is that we’re the ones who’ve gone rogue. We’re the ones who have the problem. We’re the ones who have invaded and taken over His world. We are the bad guys, and nothing we can do will ever wash that stain away from our hearts, souls and minds.
Think of an intervention. An intervention is when you, family and friends gather to tell someone you love the truth. To shake him out of his stupor and make him really see how he’s destroying himself and hurting those he loves.
This confrontation at Christmas is God’s intervention in all of our lives—in the world’s consciousness. To shake us awake. To make us see how we’re destroying ourselves. Jesus is the One who’s come to sit down on our couches, in our living rooms, to have this difficult conversation with every single one of us. And Christmas is when His journey to our couches and living rooms began.
- You’re not ok. You’re unclean and your guilt is like permanent marker on your souls—not a scarlet “A” but a black “C” for “criminal.”
- God’s intervention is when His Son came here to live and die for people who hate Him, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- His Resurrection breaks the chain that binds you to Satan, and shines a light to us in darkness to lead us onto the path of perfect peace. It’s when He asks us, “you can be free, so won’t you come with me?”
- Pledge allegiance to Him by repenting and believing His message, and He’ll be a perfect and merciful Savior.
What will we do once we hear the message?
In those Martian movies, the struggle is never quite one-sided. You have better technology wielded by soulless, faceless enemies from another world versus the heart and grit of real, ordinary people … and we somehow always win—against all odds! The enemy gets into his spaceship and flies away, never to be seen again.
But, in God’s eyes, we’re the bad guys and the struggle is one-sided. This isn’t a struggle or a war, because the outcome isn’t in doubt. It’s God lovingly reaching into His ruined world, telling everyone this Good News which is for all the people (ἔσται παντὶ τῷ λαῷ), beckoning them to come to Him and then plucking the millions of people who do come (whom He’s chosen) out of this world and into something better.
How does He do it?
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
God’s spin cycle is the best spin cycle! We can’t scrub ourselves clean, but God can make us clean. He gives us His Son’s perfect righteousness. He renovates us; spiritually gutting us like a shabby house and then fixing us all up again.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
A new heart, a new spirit—something better than that cheap, defective stock model we came with from the factory. God doesn’t renovate us so He can turn around and flip us to the highest bidder. He does it so He can keep us for Himself.
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
He’ll change us so we’ll love Him and want to do what He says. He makes us new—born again, from above (γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν; Jn 3:3).
When the men came from the East following the star, they dealt with Herod the Great that night when they passed through Jerusalem, so many years ago. Over 50 years later, the Apostle Paul told Herod’s great-grandson Agrippa II that God intended this Good News about His Son to open people’s eyes, so that they might turn from darkness to light—from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who have purified by faith and allegiance in Him (Acts 26:18).
That’s still God’s plan—and in His Son’s invasion, He really does “come in peace!” Repent and turn to God—His intervention is for your own good. Believe His message—we’re the bad guys, and He’s the one who’s come to rescue us despite ourselves. And then rejoice—“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Tyler Robbins is a graduate of Maranatha Baptist Seminary, a DMin student at Central Seminary (Plymouth, MN) and a bi-vocational pastor at Sleater Kinney Road Baptist Church, in Olympia WA. He also works in State government. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist and is the author of What’s It Mean to be a Baptist?