The book of Genesis goes on to tell us that God created the light and the darkness, the stars of the sky, plants, and animals, water, the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air.
God pronounced it all, “GOOD.” Last, God fashioned mankind, the crown of creation, male and female. The man and woman were said to be made “in God’s image.” It was good, God declared! But mankind had an enemy, a fallen angel named Lucifer. The Bible goes on to tell us that temptation, sin and sadness entered God’s creation.
The Lord God told the woman that she would be especially hated by the enemy, personified by a serpent. But God would send someone, a man, a descendent of the woman. The enemy would hurt and bruise him, but this man would crush the enemy under his heel. Even at the beginning of time, God had a plan to redeem us! The crimson thread of redemption began.
Dark days came to the world, days of sin, sadness, and separation from God. The Bible tells us that one day God spoke to a man named Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham, and told him he would be the father of a great people, a people who would be numerous and prosperous. And even more wonderful, through these people, who later became known as the Jews, God would send a Savior who would be the light of the whole world.
Through the generations, God sent leaders to guide his people. One was Moses, who led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt. A system of sacrifices to atone for sins began, but the blood of goats and sheep was only a temporary picture of what was to come. The crimson thread wove its way through history.
As the years passed, God sent special messengers, called prophets, to tell the people His word. One of the greatest, Isaiah, had much to say about the Messiah, the Savior who was coming into the world. In the Book of Isaiah we read:
“Comfort, comfort my people," says your God. A voice calls in the wilderness, "Prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined...the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].
What a strange prophecy! How long would it be? When would the Son of a virgin arrive? No one knew, but God’s people began to watch and wait in hope for a Savior.
Song: Oh Come O Come Immanuel
Long years passed. Hope dimmed. The Romans conquered the known world, and the people of God suffered. When would Messiah come? Then one day it happened!
The angel Gabriel visited a young woman named Mary. “Hail Mary, full of grace!” the angel said. Mary was astonished when he told her she was the chosen one to fulfill the ancient prophecy. She would bear a son who would save his people from their sin. “How can this be” she asked, “since I am a virgin?” The angel explained that the child would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. “The power of God will overshadow you” he said. The baby would be called the Son of God!
The Angel also visited Joseph, Mary’s future husband, reassuring him that Mary had done nothing wrong. The angel told Joseph that Mary was carrying the long hoped for Son of God.
Caesar Augustus issued a degree that everyone in the Roman world would be counted in a census, and would also be taxed. Every man was to go to the home where his ancestors had come from. Joseph was a descendent of King David, and Bethlehem was his appointed destination. Poor Joseph must have been worried as he journeyed to Bethlehem with his pregnant wife. But God had a plan…the crimson cord wove its way to Bethlehem.
The inns were packed to capacity as families arrived at their ancestral homes. There was no room for them in the inns of Bethlehem, but Mary and Joseph were allowed to take shelter in a stable. A stable? What kind of birthplace was that for the Son of God? In the darkness of a stable, with only Joseph and the animals for company, Mary brought forth her first born son and laid him in a manger of hay.
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. They spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Song: A Candle is Burning
Out in nearby fields, shepherds dozed as they watched their flocks. Suddenly the night sky was filled with light as an angel appeared. The shepherds were afraid, but the angel said, "Do not be frightened. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." A great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
Song: Angels We Have Heard on High
The crimson cord of redemption wound to Babylon, far to the east. Wise men called Maji saw a star, a star that told them a great King had been born. We don’t know for sure, but perhaps these Maji were Jews, descendents of captives who had been taken to Babylon generations before. We do know they began a long journey to find the Promised One. When they arrived in Bethlehem, they presented the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And they bowed down to the earth and worshipped the child with great joy!
Song: What Child is This?
The beautiful story of Christmas, how God came in flesh to walk this earth with his creation, is not the end of the story of the crimson thread of redemption. The prophet had told us, “He will save his people from sin.” The baby grew to childhood and then to be a man. The crimson cord of redemption wound its way through Judea as Jesus of Nazareth taught, and healed, and raised the dead, and called us to follow him in a brand new kind of Kingdom—the Kingdom of God Almighty!
The Apostle Paul tells us in his Letter to the Philippians that Jesus Christ, the Eternal God, emptied himself of all his divine privileges so that he could take the penalty for sin upon himself, setting us free. Jesus, the eternal Word, the creator, the Savior, went to the cross for us.
The manger of Bethlehem led to Calvary, as Jesus completed the plan and became our sacrifice for sin. As the song told us, nails pierced him through—the cross was borne for me and for you. As Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” the crimson thread of redemption was complete! We look back to the stable, to reflect on the mystery of God becoming one of us and stepping down into our world. We also remember the purpose of it all, that people would be saved from sin.
The night before Jesus was betrayed, and ultimately sent to a cross, he shared a last meal with his followers, telling them to observe it from that time on until he returned for them. Let us remember his first coming, and his sacrifice with thanksgiving, and praise.
Two thousand years have come and gone, and still we wait. We wait just as God’s people did the first time, for the ancient promises to be fulfilled.
Song Allelujah as people come forward for bread and cup. After blessings and all partake:
We rejoice that this is not the end of the story. Jesus is not dead, he is alive! He appeard to his disciples and others, and he assured his followers even as he left to return to Heaven, that he would be with us till the end. Even now he prepares a place for us, and as we wait He gave us work to do—share the good news! Some day, he promised, he would return. The next time, according to the Book of Revelation, he will not come as a humble servant. He will come as a conquering King, a glorious ruler of righteousness, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Song: Joy to the World
May the blessings of Christmas fill your hearts and homes as we celebrate his first coming and anticipate his return. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!