As I was getting ready for worship on Sunday morning it suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten something when planning our worship service. It was Christmas morning and I had left out the Bible's telling of the Christmas story.
On the one hand it was a pretty easy thing to skip. I was planning worship for this Sunday much as I plan any Sunday. There are parts to our worship service that happen every Sunday and I had planned all of those parts in the same manner as I do every Sunday. It wasn't that I was planning on not talking about Christmas, but just that the Christmas story itself just wasn't among my planning materials at the time.
And it was not as if I had completely ignored the Christmas story in worship. During our Christmas Eve service we read it from Luke 2:1-20. The weather was dicey that night but we had about 20 people present, and they got to hear the story, read from the Bible.
Anyhow, as I was doing my usual Sunday morning pre-worship activities I started to think about the Christmas story and I decided to read it as part of the introduction to the sermon. And so I read it aloud before reviewing my sermon notes. And as I read it one tiny phrase jumped out at me.
Joseph and Mary are in Bethlehem, and Mary is pregnant. Verse 6 says:
"And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth."
Luke tells the story in a very ordinary fashion. Any of us who are parents and were present when our children were born understand well the idea that in one moment the mother is pregnant and then the time comes for the process of giving birth to the baby. And so what Luke tells is quite true, but that phrase, "the time came" points to something so much more significant.
"The time came" for God to actively work out the long-awaited plan of redemption.
"The time came" for God to begin the process that would one day restore everything that went wrong when sin entered the world.
"The time came" for God to free sinners from bondage and show them the way to true peace.
This morning was the time to remind my congregation of this truth: that Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and that without faith in Him we are truly, eternally, lost and without hope. And yet, while we were lost, "the time came."
May you know the hope and peace that are only found in Jesus. Amen
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.