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  • Shawn Thornton

Hope Packaged in Simplicity

Wednesday - December 16th

"Hope is Here" Advent Devotionals - Day 16

Scripture to Read Today: Luke 2:1-7


Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son.

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:7

2018, United Airlines switched to lighter paper for their inflight magazines. It saved 1oz per copy, which after one year saved 170,000 gallons (643,000 L) of fuel worth $290,000. United saved nearly $300k by simplifying. Streamlining the weight of paper seems such a simple thing. But, doing so created a big impact. Simplicity makes a difference. It tends to reward those who can utilize it without diminishing the substance of what is being simplified.

Simplicity fascinates me. Whether art, architecture, graphic design, or home or office furnishings, I appreciate simplicity. Don't get me wrong, just as much as it fascinates me; it eludes me.

Some of the most profound preachers have been able to communicate profound biblical concepts with practical simplicity. I have to admit it. Their skill at keeping things basic while at the same time deepening my understanding of God and His expectations for my life make me a bit jealous. It seems so obvious. There is even a little acronym most pastors recite to themselves as they prepare a sermon: KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid. Alas, while I admire simplicity, it is one word no one would use to describe my preaching style.

Over the years of preaching through the annual Christmas season, I have tried to unpack the simplicity of Christ coming to earth as a baby. Luke captures it best in one verse. "Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them" (Luke 1:7). Reread it. Read the verse one more time.

Do you capture the simplicity of Christ's birth? A woman gave birth in an obscure village to a baby boy. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in a barn's feeding trough. She was not a queen or even a princess, for that matter. The birth did not happen in a palace or even the stable of a palace. Strips of cloth became his first onesie. Note the simplicity, the lack of fanfare, and the absence of complexity in Christ's birth.

Yes, he was born into a complex world. His nation, Israel, was living under the oppression of the Romans. His parents had traveled for two days from their home in Nazareth to be counted in a census. His mother, Mary, was pregnant while traveling, and no rooms were available in Bethlehem. His arrival was marked by simplicity - even though the world into which he was born was nothing but simple. The Savior born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago was our greatest hope packaged in simplicity!

He was and is God's gift to us. With the same simplicity with which we receive and open presents on Christmas morning, we can receive the gift of eternal life offered through Christ. Far too many people make saving faith far too complicated. Jesus said the kind of faith we need to receive God's gift to us is the same simple faith a child expresses in life. It should not be complicated. We are sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus came, died, and was raised from the dead to save us. When we place our faith in who Jesus is and what He did for us, we are forgiven and given new life in Christ.

If you have not yet trusted Jesus, do so today. Don't overthink it. Don't complicate it. Receive the hope God offers you packaged in the simplicity of that baby placed in that manger.

When you know Jesus, the simplicity of His birth captivates your heart and mind. It brings you hope in a world of hopeless complexity!

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