Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Nativity Story

I watched The Nativity Story yesterday with about 25 friends from Concord and thought the movie was fantastic. The portrayal of Joseph was moving; Mary was underwhelming, somewhat melancholy, but effective; the scenary and presentation of historical context was engaging; the longing for a Messiah to deliver the Jews from the oppression of Rome and Herod was held in tension quite well; and the ending, particularly the scene in the manger, could have been a bit more subtle. But instead of writing a review of the movie I wanted to share an stinging indictment against my soul as I "witnessed" the events of Jesus' birth into this world unfold.

On multiple occasions during the movie I was emotionally moved. I wept when a young teenage girl was ripped away from the crying arms of her mother to work on behalf of her family's inability to pay their whole tax to Caesar. I rejoiced inwardly at the appearance of Gabriel to Mary as he announced her favor with Yahweh (Luke 1:26-38). I cried again as Mary birthed Jesus into this world in the meager, dirty confines of a stable as her honorable husband Joseph served as a mid-wife. And as I left the theatre my spirit was troubled that it took the efforts of New Line Cinema and director Catherine Hardwicke to make the greatest event in history come alive again in my heart.

Jonathan Edwards said these words several hundred years ago: "Our external delights, our earthly pleasures, our ambition and our reputation, our human relationships, for all of these things, our desires are eager, our appetites strong, our love, warm and affectionate. When it comes to these things our hearts are tender and sensitive, deeply impressed, easily moved, much concern and greatly engaged. We are depressed at our losses and we are excited and joyful about any worldly success or prosperity. But when it comes to spiritual matters, how dull we feel. How heavy and hard our hearts. We can sit and hear of the infinite length and height and breadth and love of God in Christ Jesus, of His giving of His infinitely dear Son, and yet sit there cold and unmoved. If we are going to be excited about anything, shouldn't it be our spiritual lives? Is there anything more inspiring, more exciting, more lovable and desirable in heaven or on earth than the Gospel of Jesus Christ? We should be utterly humbled that we are not more emotionally affected than we are in the church."

Has your heart been moved this season by the glorious glad tidings that God became flesh to save His people from their sins? Has the busyness of the season, the excessive amount of gifts to be purchased and demands made on your time made you indifferent to the reality that Messiah has come to deliver His people? Are you more moved, more inspired by the prospect of spending time with relatives and friends than worshiping the Christ-child?

It is my prayer that all of us who confess Jesus as Lord, Master, King, Redeemer, Deliverer, Sustainer, Comforter and Friend would have our affections stirred to new heights as we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world this Christmas.


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