One of the very important parts of Christmas is decorating the house. Most everybody does some kind of decorations for their house or apartment. Some neighborhoods give a prize to the best decorated house. Part of Christmas for many families is driving around town and looking at beautifully decorated houses.
The most beautifully decorated house is not found in Montgomery or Alabama or The United States. It is in Bethlehem. It is a manger. It is the place that housed the birth of Jesus Christ. Let me describe that house.
- Simple – It was a simple house. It was not designed by an architect nor built by a famous contractor. It didn’t take a long time to build. It was just a manger – a feeding trough in a cave. It didn’t have electricity; it didn’t have high-speed internet. There was no media center in it; it wasn’t on the Parade of Homes. It was just a simple cattle shed or cave. Maybe we would enjoy Christmas more if we kept it simpler. Our calendars are filled with so many parties, all the gift-buying, food-preparation and events that Christmas becomes very complicated. Maybe we can learn something about making our Christmas a simple celebration – focusing on the real meaning of Christmas.
- Serene – It was a house where peace prevailed. It was the birthplace for the Prince of Peace. The shepherds had just heard the angel say, “Don’t be afraid. I’ve got Good News for you!” (Luke 2:10) It was the birthplace of the One who said, “My peace I give to you, the peace not as the world gives” (John 14:27). This peace was later described as the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
- Singing – It was a singing house. The entire Christmas story is punctuated with music. Some of the great musical renditions come from the songs recorded in Luke 1 and 2. When Gabriel announced the coming of Christ to the Virgin Mary, he gave words to Ava Maria. When Zechariah discovered Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist, you see the words of the Benedictus. When Mary discovered she was pregnant with God’s Son, we find the inspiration for the Magnificat. When the angel announced the Good News to the shepherds, they sang together Gloria in Excelsis Deo.
- Spacious – It was a spacious house. I don’t know how big your house is, but it isn’t as big as that first Christmas house. You might have more square feet, but the house where Jesus was born was bigger because it stretched out to the whole world. The most beautiful house isn’t measured by square feet – but rather by the size of the welcome mat. Do we receive people, and are they welcome when we go outside our small, immediate family?
- Special – The first Christmas house was special because it was the place where God presented His Son to the world. It was a vehicle for God to become a man and live among all of us humans. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Our lives can be special because it is through us that the Light of Hope and Peace can shine. The Bible reminds us that we are the light to the world. We should let our lights shine (Mat. 5:16). Jesus has entrusted His Light and His Truth to us to share with others! That’s so special!
- Sacrificial – This house was sacrificial because it was the birthplace of the One who would sacrifice His life for the sins of all mankind. I want you to grasp how sacrificial that house was. The baby who was born was to become the perfect lamb to be sacrificed. Jesus was described as the Lamb that was unblemished and spotless (I Peter 1:9), and Luke 23 describes how they carried Him up to a cross and crucified Him. He was willing to sacrifice His life in order that I might have life. Are we willing to sacrifice our money, time, pleasure, ambition, etc. so other people might find hope and help?
The most beautiful house at Christmas is in Bethlehem. Does my house look like the Bethlehem house?