Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989
Personally, I am more likely to wind-up frazzled than enamored with the crush of holiday activities. But, either way…whether you’re partied and pumped, or over-amped and pooped, this time of year calls for a course correction.
That’s what the manger was about; that’s the reason for the cross! God came in grace and mercy to do something about our sin. He didn’t come so we could sing about the sweet little baby, born in a stable – he came to die a violent sacrificial atoning death…so we could live!
Two true stories illustrate the difference between life with or without the forgiveness Jesus came to bring with his Advent and Atonement:
In Bristol, England nearly 20 years ago… 10 ten year-old boys led a little toddler down a railway embankment and smashed his head in, leaving his body on the railway line. The story of the killing of Jamie Bulger was one of those events which made everyone look again at what it means to be human. These were just children, yet they were capable of this. Neither were they psychotic. Nor were they any more disturbed than many other children. The anger and desire for vengeance that came up against them was almost tangible…. Now there is a chance that they may be released. They were children at the time of the murder. They have spent the rest of their childhood away from their families in an institution, locked away from the rest of society. Jamie Bulger’s mother wants them to be locked up for the rest of their lives — arguing that her child cannot walk free back into her arms. They took her son’s life, they should not have their lives. Even if they are released, there is a strong risk that they might get killed by vigilantes, so in one respect they will never be truly free.
The second true story is from Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a famous plastic surgeon:
One day, a woman came to see Dr. Maltz about her husband. She told the doctor that her husband had been injured while attempting to save his parents from a burning house. He couldn't get to them. They both were killed, and his face was burned and disfigured. He had given up on life and gone into hiding. He wouldn't let anyone see him - not even his wife. Dr. Maltz told the woman not to worry. With the great advances we've made in plastic surgery in recent years, he said, I can restore his face.
 Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries ©2003, QuickVerse
HomileticsOnline.com quoting Paul Roberts, “Sacrifice of blood and lives,” November 19, 2000, Cothan Parish Church Web Site,cotham.bristol.anglican.org. Reprinted with permission.
HomileticsOnline.com, quoting Maxie Dunnam, This Is Christianity (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 60-61.