We Interrupt This Christmas… Mike Coppersmith November 1 John 1:1-4, John 1:14 A little boy had had part in a Christmas play at his church in which he was to recite some verses from the Bible about the birth of Jesus Christ. To jog his memory, he wrote the verses on pieces of paper and pinned them to various places on his clothing. The evening of the play, his memory was serving him well. He began quoting from the prophet Isaiah: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and his name shall be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father . . . ” Just then a cell phone went off in the audience. Thrown off by the interruption, the boy forgot what was next. So he started again: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and his name shall be called . . . ” But the interruption had caused him to lose his train of thought, so he tried again: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and his name shall be called . . . ” He still had no success so he decided to move to his fallback position. He confidently began: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and his name shall be called . . . ” Then, looking into the waist of his pants he finished the verse: “Fruit of the Loom!” Interruptions! It’s hard when they happen. They are one of life’s great frustrations. Everything is moving along well, and then the unexpected happens. But interruptions are inevitable. They are part of life. And we shouldn’t be surprised by this, because God is a God of interruptions. The word “interrupt” actually comes from two Latin words: the word “intero,” which means “into,” and the word “rupere” which means “to break.” To interrupt means “to break into.” And this is what God likes to do. He likes to break into our lives. We are people with full schedules. We often think that our security is in our plans, our routines, our calendars and in the control that we imagine we have over situations and circumstances around us. So we develop neatly planned, tightly wrapped, well-ordered lives and think that our sufficiency will be in these things. Then come the interruptions, because God is a God of interruptions. This is why Christmas is all about interruptions. It is all about God breaking into neatly planned tightly wrapped, well-ordered lives and doing something new. Think about Mary. She was a young virgin, engaged to be married, when suddenly God the Father makes her pregnant with God the Son by the power of God the Holy Spirit. That’s an interruption! Think about Joseph. He was a man of righteousness and purity, treating his fiancé with integrity and respect when suddenly the angel of the Lord announces to him that Mary is pregnant and that God did it. That’s an interruption! Think about the Shepherds. They were following their routine, working the midnight shift, when an angel told them to go to Bethlehem and find a king in a feed trough. That’s an interruption! Think about the Wise Men. They were studying the stars (a well-ordered occupation), when God said: “Get those baby gifts wrapped, saddle up those animals and follow the star.” That’s an interruption! Christmas is all about interruptions. Many of us are familiar with the Christmas story found in Luke 2. There is another Christmas story found in John 1. It is less familiar to many people. You could call it “the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version” of the Christmas story. Here is how it goes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1-4, John 1:14). The word “flesh” as it appears in this passage is the Greek word “carne,” which literally means: “raw meat”. That first Christmas, God became “raw meat” and made his dwelling among us. That’s an interruption – God breaking into our world, so that He could be broken for us upon a cross, so that the wall of our sin that separated us from Him could be broken down, so that He could break into our hearts with his pardon and presence. Christmas is all about interruptions because God is a God of interruptions! So here are three concrete actions to which the interruptions of Christmas call you. First of all, the interruptions of Christmas call you to Acknowledge Your Need for God to Break Into Your Life Go ahead and admit it. You like to develop your plans, routines, schedules and imaginary control over circumstances around you and then think that your salvation and security is in these things. If you doubt this, just consider what it has been like for you the past few weeks leading up to Christmas. You can probably relate to the story of a little girl whose mother was busy getting ready for Christmas – cooking, cleaning, shopping and wrapping presents. She was so wrapped up in it all that she was getting stressed and irritable. Her daughter, excited by the Season, was also misbehaving. Finally, the mother lost her temper and sent her daughter to her room, telling her to stay there and not come out. After a while, the mother started regretting her harshness with her daughter. She went to the door of her daughter’s room, cracked it open, and heard her daughter praying this prayer: “And forgive us our Christmases, as we forgive those who Christmas against us.” That’s a prayer you may need to pray right now: “God forgive me for missing the main meaning of Christmas. Forgive me for thinking that it is found in all the outward trappings of the Season, all the routines, traditions and schedules. Help me to see that the real meaning of Christmas is found in You breaking into this world in Jesus Christ and then breaking into my life to do something new.” The interruptions of Christmas call you to acknowledge your need for God to break into your life. Secondly, these interruptions call you to Ask Jesus Christ to Break In! They summon you to invite Jesus to break into your life. Parents and grandparents, I have a great line for you to say to your children or grandchildren on Christmas Day if they start complaining that they didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. Just sit them up on your lap, look them in the eye, and say: “Well, it isn’t your birthday!” Remember this: it isn’t your life. If you want to trust in Jesus as your Savior and follow Him as your Lord, it isn’t your life. Your life is Christ’s life! As the Scripture says: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So invite Jesus Christ to break into your life and to do what He wants to do. Here’s a one sentence prayer for you to pray every day in the New Year ahead: “Lord Jesus Christ, I invite you to break into my life in a new way today.” Pray this prayer every day with full sincerity of heart and watch what Jesus Christ will do! Acknowledge your need for God to break into your life. Ask Jesus Christ to break in. And here is the third concrete action that the interruptions of Christmas call you to: Look at Interruptions Not as Obstacles but as Opportunities See them as opportunities for God to work in new and wonderful ways in your life. This is what Mary did. This is what Joseph did. This is what the Shepherds did. This is what the Wise Men did. In turn, they saw the glory of God manifested in their lives. Many of the most significant, influential and impacting moments of our lives are not on our appointment calendars and pre-planned schedules. This is true for the everyday, mundane interruptions of life – the unexpected phone call, the chance encounter, the unplanned delay in the middle of your day. Sometimes the whole course of our lives hinges on moments like these. These everyday interruptions may seem like inconveniences, but they are actually opportunities to see God work if you will have eyes to see. This is true for the happy, joyous interruptions of life. Think about it. Who could schedule the moment you first fall in love, or your child’s first steps, or your grandchild’s first words? You can’t put such important moments on your appointment calendar. This is also true for the heartbreaking interruptions of life. Who would try to schedule the death of a loved one, the moving away of a friend, the loss of a job, a financial setback or a major illness? These interruptions disrupt our neatly planned, tightly wrapped, well-ordered lives. But they are also stepping stones to a new and deeper life with God. They become some of the most profound opportunities we will ever have to experience the glory of God in our lives. This Christmas, you don’t need a piece of paper pinned to your pants to remind you of these truths. All you need is a manger, a cross, an empty tomb, a living Savior who says to you: “Acknowledge your need for God to break into your life. Invite Me to do it. Look at interruptions not as obstacles but as opportunities. And yes, you will have moments when – like the shepherds outside Bethlehem – you are terrified by the interruptions. But I will be there saying ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. For this very day I will be born afresh into the circumstances and challenges of your life!'” So go ahead. Pray that prayer. Pray it this Christmas. Pray it everyday in the New Year ahead. Pray it right now: “Lord Jesus Christ, I invite you to break into my life in a new way today!” Amen! ______________ Mike Coppersmith is Senior Pastor of Our Savior’s Community in Palm Springs, CA.