Below is a rough script I used for a Christmas assembly at our local secondary school. I didn’t follow it exactly but used it as more of a springboard to jog my memory and keep track. Hope it entertains and enlightens.
“As Christmas approaches you’ve probably already heard or you will do soon, plenty of people saying something like “it’s important to remember the true meaning of Christmas.” People will say that “Christmas isn’t just about getting lots of presents and eating too much. It’s a time for family and friends, remembering all the great things we’ve got to be thankful for and things like that.”
Maybe some of you’ll go to a carol service at a church and someone will say something like “it’s important we remember the true meaning of Christmas. It isn’t just about getting lots of presents and eating too much or even just about family and friends and remembering all the great things we’ve got to be thankful for. No the real meaning of Christmas is to remember the birth of Jesus.” You’ve probably heard things like that plenty of times before.
But the problem with leaving it at that, is that it doesn’t really tell us why we should be bothered about that and so it’s easy for us to misunderstand why Jesus was born. I’m going to show you a video from the American series Mad TV, which is a parody of Terminator 2. And in the video, the Terminator has been sent back in time to the night of Jesus’ birth with orders to protect him.
In the video, the Terminator doesn’t understand why Jesus was born and so it does everything it can to protect Jesus from any harm, including shooting the Roman soldiers and killing Judas so that he won’t be able to betray Jesus. And it doesn’t seem able to grasp the fact that Jesus is supposed to die to save his people from their sins, despite Jesus’ best efforts to try and make it understand.
And that kind of shows us why simply saying that Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus isn’t really enough. If we don’t understand that Jesus came to die to save others, then we miss the point and Christmas doesn’t really make any sense. But often we don’t really think of the baby Jesus as the same Jesus who died on the cross all those years later. But the Bible is very clear from the beginning that Jesus is on a rescue mission. When an angel appears to Joseph he says “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
So right from the start, even from before Jesus was born, it was clear that he had come to save people. Even the name Jesus means “The Lord Saves.” And that’s why Christmas is important, because it’s the time that we remember that God has sent a rescuer into the world to save us.
Imagine that you’re climbing a mountain, isolated from anywhere else and miles and miles from anyone else. You’ve been climbing for ages and ages and you’re exhausted from the struggle of the climb. And as you take another step up the icy mountain, you lose your footing and you slip and you fall down the mountain, landing heavily on your leg a little way further back down cliff. After being dazed for a few seconds you try and stand but as you do, excruciating pain shoots through your leg and you collapse. As you look down at your leg, you realise that it’s broken. You know this isn’t good as there’s no way you can get down off the mountain by yourself. You fumble in your backpack for your phone and locating equipment but as you pull it out of your bag you see that all of it has been broken in the fall. You’ve got a flare but you’re in the middle of nowhere, and the chances of anyone seeing it are miniscule. It begins to get dark and you do your best to create a little snow hole, but in your weakened condition, it’s not really the best shelter you could have made and as the darkness sets in the cold really begins to bite. You have a little bit of food and water which you decide to ration, just in case, but you know that it won’t last you long, another day at most. Feeling hopeless, you drift in and out of sleep.
Bu then in the morning you’re woken by the sound of someone calling your name, not far from where you are. You cry out and moments later a man appears at the entrance to your snow hole, wearing a search and rescue jacket. He says “I knew you were out here, so when you didn’t come back I came to find you. I’ve searched every inch of this mountain but now I’ve found you.” You can’t describe how happy you feel. You were sure that you were going to die but now you know you’re going to be OK. And you cheer and shake the man’s hand and hug him. And with that the man picks you up and carries you back down the mountain to safety.
And we’re told that that’s what Jesus came to do. He came to rescue us because we couldn’t help ourselves. And that’s why we remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas, because it’s like that man appearing in the entrance to your snow hole. It’s the arrival of a rescuer when all hope seemed lost. And because he came to rescue us we want to welcome him with joy and celebration, just like we would the man on the mountain.
If you want to know what Christmas is really all about, it’s the first step in a rescue mission for all mankind, which is completed by Jesus’ death on the cross.
So this Christmas, why not try and find some time to think about how you might welcome your rescuer.”