In the Crib (Christmas)
December 20-21, 2003
[Played on the side screens is Fellowship Church’s version of the popular television show “Cribs.” Ed Young takes the audience on a tour through his house in the same style and effect that celebrities do on the television show.]
How are you all doing? Welcome to my crib. Come on in. Let me show you around.
Well, this picture right here is something that really means a lot to us. That’s a picture that I did of Jesus. Several years ago, we had like eight Easter services, and I did this thing called “Self-Portrait” where I actually painted while I was talking. And the congregation didn’t know that I was actually painting a picture of Jesus. And I did keep one original, so we have it up in our den, and we really like this.
This one right here is a great family room for us. We spend a lot of time here. You know, with four kids and people coming over all the time, it’s pretty crazy. Our armoire will not actually close. Oh, look what’s on! My favorite show, “Creation Connection.” Alright. This armoire is pretty funny because you can see the door won’t close. Well, a while back lightning struck our house. It blew out all of our televisions, so Lisa and I went and got another television. And we were told it was the same size as the one we previously had in here. Well, obviously it’s not, so we’re going to have to cut probably a hole in the back and fit this television in here. But you know, even though I’m a handyman, I haven’t gotten around to it.
Over here are some paintings that I wanted to show you. You know we love pictures and paintings. We have them all over our house, and that’s one of my favorite things to do—to look at paintings and pictures. My mother is an incredible artist and now that we’re all gone, she has time to paint. So these are pictures she painted of our children. And she did just a great job.
This is the kitchen right here, and this is where it happens. You know, Lisa is a great cook, and several years ago we decided to re-do and remodel our kitchen and we got a monster refrigerator. Because a monster family needs a monster refrigerator. Okay, let’s see what’s in here. Oh, boy, you’ve got some healthy stuff in there! Yeah, of course you’ve got the eggs. We do a lot of egg whites. Of course it’s got the grapes and vegetables. That’s it. Don’t look at that Hershey’s…no, no, no. Don’t look at that chocolate syrup now.
This is really neat, too, about the kitchen—the back splash that Lisa and her friends did by themselves. They actually went out and collected all these rocks and found all these crosses, and they just put them up. And I think it looks phenomenal. People ask us all the time, “Who did your backsplash?” Well, Lisa and her friends did it. And you can hire them very, very cheap!
This right here is our dining room. And you know a lot of people have dining rooms, but they don’t really dine in their room. Well, we use it because Lisa cooks so much and we have so many people over. We love to entertain and all that. Here’s a picture of Lisa when we got married, almost 22 years ago. Someone did that of her and the thing I love about that is…see that necklace right there? I gave that necklace to her when I was, like, sixteen. Can you believe that?
This is our bedroom. This is our bed. Oh, yeah. I love this [pillow] right here. Lisa got this for me. “A fisherman lives here with the catch of his life.” That is deep, because I married way, way over my head.
Anyway, let me show you around here. You know, when it comes to technology, we have the best money can buy right here. This right here is an amazing CD player [Ed is being sarcastic. It is a very old and flimsy CD player].
Well, this right here is my closet. It’s a little bit messy, but here it is. Let me see. What can I show you here? Oh, no, these are my favorite. Here’s some of my shoes. Remember these shoes? Some of you who have been to Fellowship Church for a while? I ordered these off the Internet. These are green shoes. They are hideous. I didn’t realize they were this green. I only wore them a couple times because people made fun of me, but I have them there. All this stuff right here, that’d be like my fishing clothes whenever I’m going fishing. Oh, yeah, look at this. Here’s my jersey from Florida State—Florida State number 12. It’s like in mint condition because I hardly played.
Now let’s go up here and check out the study in the bird’s nest. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve fallen down those [spiral] steps. Multiple times. This furniture right here, we got this up here ourselves. And this furniture means a lot to me because this is the furniture that I grew up on. This furniture is like, wow, 35 years old! And my parents gave it to us when we were first married two decades ago. So Lisa and I, I’ll say it again, we lifted this deal through this hall right here—you’ve just seen it—and brought it up. I think that’s pretty incredible.
You’ve got the computer. Here’s some pictures. These are some pretty cool pictures because we have… We played this basketball game a few years ago against the Cowboys when they had Michael Irvin and all that. And they were supposed to be these great basketball players and basketball team. And Troy Aikman, who has gone to Fellowship Church for a long, long time, played for our church. And we smoked ‘em…we beat the Cowboys. We beat them when they were Super Bowl Champions—Bad! Fellowship Church, that’s right, smoked the Cowboys. And those guys couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe that we got that furniture up here!
This is our nativity scene. And I can tell you folks it’s all about the crib. Because when you think about Christmas, it’s about the CRIB, the Crucial Relationship Initiated By the Savior. And that’s why we’re doing like, 11 Christmas services—because of the crib.
You know what? Man, I’ve got to study! I’ve got to prepare a message for these services. So it’s time for you guys to get out of here. Thanks for coming by and I’ll see you later.
[The video ends and Ed comes out on stage to speak.]
Thanks for touring my crib. You know, you say the word “crib” these days, you have two options. The first option is a crib can mean a place where a baby rests. The other option is it can mean your house. So if you want to be cool or hip, they tell me, call your house, your apartment, or your condo your “crib,” because that’s where you live.
“Cribs” is a very popular television show. If you’ve not seen it, ask someone under 25 years of age, and they’ll tell you about it. Basically, people take you on tours of their houses, or their cribs, and they show you the stuff in the cribs. They tell you why it means so much to them. It kind of felt odd opening up my house to all of you because you kind of feel like people are intruding on your space. You are opening up your refrigerator, your closet, and all of that.
We like reality television because we feel like there’s a depth, there’s a meaning that normally you don’t see in other shows. For example, have you seen these reality shows like “Temptation Island?” Hopefully not. “Survivor,” “The Osborne’s,” “The Newlyweds?” We love reality television because we think it’s real. There’s a girl who was on one of those reality shows, who attends Fellowship Church. And a while back she told a group of us, “Yeah,” she said, “the shows are real, but” she said, “a lot of the stuff on there is orchestrated.”
I know that’s hard to believe, but you know, even the tour you saw of my house was sort of orchestrated. It was not really the real deal. I mean, yeah, that’s where I live. But you didn’t see my four kids running around throwing food and going crazy. You didn’t see my three 150-pound dogs drooling and gnawing on things and people. My house is pretty clean, but usually not that clean. We had the camera angled, so the house would look right and all that. So it was a little bit unrealistic.
That’s the thing about Christmas. Christmas has become sort of unrealistic, kind of like an episode of “Cribs,” because it’s so commercialized and contrived. There’s just a hint of reality these days.
I was thinking a while back. You know, I thought what would be cool is if we could do a “Cribs” episode during that inaugural Christmas 2,000 years ago. I thought to myself that would be awesome, wouldn’t it, to do that? To go back in time and see what Christmas was really about. Because we’re fascinated by stuff that’s raw and real.
During the Christmas season, we have this crib-consciousness, don’t we? We’re aware of the manger. And let’s be honest. The manger, the crib, confronts us all. It shows us who we are. It shows us where we’re going. For example, if you’re dealing with loneliness, maybe this is the first Christmas you’ve spent without a loved one, or maybe you’re feeling disenfranchised or disillusioned. During the Christmas season, it’s like those feelings are magnified and highlighted, aren’t they? During the Christmas season, we think about social needs, people who are hurting, people who are poor, people who are hungry, and we’re very concerned about them.
Christmas, the crib, confronts us and multiplies where we are; it multiplies marital difficulties or parental struggles. You name it, Christmas multiplies it. As we think about Christmas, though, as we’re confronted by the crib of Christ, we’re really confronted in reality with the Crucial Relationship Initiated By our Savior. Because that’s what Christmas is all about—the Crucial Relationship Initiated By the Savior.
What if we could take a crib-cam and drop it into the manger 2,000 years ago? What would we see? It would probably explode some of our preconceived notions, because a lot of us think that the crib of Christ, for example, was kind of like the antique crib I showed you in my house. A lot of us think the crib of Christ was all about silent night, soft hay, and scented candles. “Silent Night, Holy Night,” as Mary puts the Christ child in that beautiful, pristine basinet that we call a manger. If that’s your mentality, I hate to rain on your nativity scene parade, but that’s not what the manger was like. If we dropped a crib-cam in the manger of Christ it would not look like what you think it looked like.
What was the crib? Do the research. Do the homework. A crib back in Biblical times was an ordinary piece of farm furniture. It was rough, rugged. It probably didn’t smell very good. It was hollow. It was a place that you put grain and hay. It was a feeding trough where the barnyard animals pigged out.
My wife and I, as I just said, we have three giant dogs that weigh over 150 pounds each. They’re like cattle. In my garage—I didn’t show you my garage; it’s a little bit messy—I have these big feeding bins full of dog food. Now and then, one of the kids will inadvertently leave the garage door open. You know I never do that. These dogs will sneak into our garage, rip open the tops of these containers and just have a feeding frenzy. Saliva gets in the food, insects will get in there. It’s amazing how much these dogs can eat. They’re humongous! These are the same dogs that ate out my friend’s headlight from her car. These are the same dogs—I kid you not—that Lisa has run over twice, and they just shake it off. These are the same dogs that tore the chrome off my Ford F150 pickup truck with their teeth! Don’t turn you back on these giant bull mastiffs.
Anyway, what if I told you, “Hey, I’m going to put a newborn baby in that feeding container in my garage.” What? “No, Ed, don’t do that!” Well, take that picture and transfer that 2,000 years ago, because that is where Christ was put—in a feeding trough.
We have a lot in common with the crib. The crib was plain and ordinary. I’m plain and ordinary. The crib was rough. We’re rough, too. We’re sinners. We mess up. We make moral turnovers. The crib was hollow. It was filled with hay and grain and insects. I run into so many people these days who are trying to fill the hollowness of their lives with hay and grain. “Oh, if I make that amount of money, whoa, that’ll do it. I’m just one deal away from nirvana. One more dollar, one more million, one more acquisition, one more fun fix, one more trip, one more car, one more house, one more…whatever. Surely, that will do it for me. Surely, that will fill the hollowness in my crib.”
You see, we have a crib consciousness during this time of year because we’re confronted by the crib. And we want so desperately to have crib closure, yet so many of us have achieved what we thought would give us closure. We’ve achieved what we thought would give us fulfillment, yet we’re still empty. And during our moments of introspection, like coming to a Christmas service, we’re aware of this. We’re acutely aware of this low-grade sensation that something is sideways in our soul. Something is missing from our crib. You would like to pretend like it to other people and you would like to feel like it, but you know in your heart of hearts down deep, when it’s just between you and God, you know that something is sideways.
THE SWADDLING CLOTHES
I think the crib-cam would also see the swaddling clothes. Because, after all, they put Jesus in the crib with swaddling clothes. What was up with swaddling clothes? Why did the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2 talk about swaddling clothes? Let’s read that, Luke 2:7, “She gave birth”—she, being Mary—“to a first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger”—an ordinary piece of farm furniture made extraordinary when Christ was put there—“because,” the Bible says, “there was no room for them in the inn.”
Swaddling clothes, strips of cloth. They wrapped Jesus up like a burrito, very tight, to give him security and strength while he was in that feeding trough. It’s very interesting that the Gospel writer mentioned that—swaddling clothes. He also mentioned the word “manger” three times. That’s pretty odd. We’re going to chase that rabbit in a second.
The shepherds were also mentioned. And I guarantee you, the crib-cam would have seen the shepherds. Why the shepherds? Because the shepherds were the first ones to get to the crib of Christ.
Shepherds were outcasts. People that others didn’t hang with. They couldn’t even go to the temple. They were considered unclean. Why would the angels make this birth announcement to a bunch of shepherds pulling an all-nighter, sipping some Starbuck’s, and watching sheep? Baaaaaa. I mean, what’s up with that? That’s kind of strange, isn’t it? Kind of mysterious?
Well, let’s read about the shepherds. Luke 2:8-9, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby”—they were just living there—“keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” Don’t you love the honesty of the Bible? If I ever saw an angel, I’d be terrified. Especially in the middle of the night with kind of a caffeine buzz. “Aaahhhh! Whoa, man.”
[Luke 2:10-14] “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid…’” If I ever see an angel at night, I hope the angel says, “Hey, Ed, don’t be afraid. Hey, Ed, chill, okay? Don’t be afraid.” [the Scripture continues] “…I bring you good news….” That’s what I’m giving you right now. This is the amazing thing about Christianity. This separates Christianity from all the other major world religions. Christianity is about good news. The word “gospel”—you hear that term thrown around, gospel—that means “good news.” Now, often we have to hear bad news before we experience good news. But what we’re talking about today is good news.
[The Scripture continues] “I bring you good news,” the angel said, “of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you.” A sign? What’s the sign? “…you will find a baby…” Okay there are a lot of babies in Bethlehem. But…“wrapped in cloths (or swaddling clothes) and lying in a manger.” A crib, an ordinary piece of farm furniture. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”
What’s the essence of a crib? A place of rest. Our lives are cribs, and once we allow Christ to rest there, we experience real rest and real contentment. We experience the peace of God. But there’s no way we’ll experience the peace of God until we have peace with God.
The Bible says that we’re born at war between ourselves and God. Isn’t that crazy? Wow, that’s kind of violent. “You mean we’re at war with God?” Yes, we are. You know why? God is holy and we are not. I’m not holy; I’m a sinner. I’m a moral foul-up. So are you. And the Bible says our sinfulness, our condition has separated us from God. Well, what did God do? Did God leave us in a lurch? Did God say, “Well, too bad. I’m holy, I’m perfect, and you’re not. See ya! Wouldn’t want to be ya?” He could’ve done that. What did he do? This is so strange, isn’t it? So mysterious?
God bounded down the staircase of Heaven with a baby in his arms. And this baby was born in a crib, a feeding trough. He crawled out of the crib and lived a sinless life. Then he voluntarily crawled on a Roman cross and spilled his blood for your sins and mine. He was wrapped in burial cloth, put in a tomb, and then several days later, he crushed and crashed through the rock with resurrection power, thus, making up this distance between ourselves and God caused by our sinfulness. And if we, those of us who are separated from God, if we appropriate what Christ did for us on the cross, then guess what? We have peace with God. And because we have peace with God, we have the peace of God.
Well, let’s continue, because the plot clots. It gets deeper here. Luke 2:15-20, “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…” These guys were true seekers, weren’t they? “…And the Baby who was lying…” Where? “…in the manger. When they had seen Him, 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.”
This crib-cam is pretty telling. It shows the manger. It shows the swaddling clothes. It shows the shepherds. Now let’s take this crib-cam out of the manger, take off the zoom lens and put on a wide-angle lens. Now let’s see the wide angle of the manger scene. Let’s see the significance of all the stuff I’ve been talking about. Let’s see the meaning of the manger, and let’s see what the crib is really all about. Let’s look at the swaddling clothes, because the Gospel writer mentioned these for a reason. Let’s look at the shepherds, like maybe we’ve never seen them before. Why are these things pictured here? Most of us miss it because we casually read it, and we miss the subplot. We miss the depth.
Let’s talk about the manger. What was the manger? An ordinary piece of farm furniture. It was a feeding trough. It was established in the barnyard for the animals to eat and to gain their sustenance, their energy, their food to survive. Am I going too fast? After Jesus was born in this feeding trough, he grew up. And during his earthly ministry, he said statements like this. John 6:35, “I am the bread of life.” That’s the ultimate carbohydrate, isn’t it? “He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.”
We have this crib consciousness. We want crib closure. Jesus was born in a feeding trough, and later on in his life he said, “I am the bread of life.” The word “Bethlehem” means “house of bread.” The bread of life was born in a feeding trough, and he came from the house of bread. And he offers people like you and me, sinners, outcasts, people who don’t deserve it; he offers us the bread of life. What are you dining on? What are you eating?
A couple days ago, some friends of ours gave us some pecans for Christmas. (You say pecans or pee-cans? I say pecans. What do you say? Pecans? Thank you very much. I feel better.) Lisa was in our kitchen, chowing down on pecans. She’s says, “Honey, if you don’t come in here, I’m going to eat every one of these pecans.” So I walked in and she said, “Look at these pecans. Look at the size of them!” She says, “They’re so moist. They taste so good.” I said, “They do? I’ll try some.” So I begin to crack the pecans and eat the pecans.
I was talking to Lisa, eating the pecans, watching the television, and they were really moist. I ate two or three of them, and I got this kind of white stuff in my teeth, and I was like, “Humph?” And I was trying to pick this stuff out of my teeth. All of a sudden, I heard Lisa go, “Ughhhh!” I looked, and a big honking maggot fell out of one of the pecans! This maggot was so big, he had a nose ring. It was sickening. No wonder the pecans were so moist! We were munching on maggots! I know that’s gross. Dr. Atkins says they’re high in protein, though, so they might be pretty good for you.
We’re like a crib, aren’t we? We’re like a manger. We fill our crib with hay and grain and stuff, and we think that’s the ultimate. And we think life is sweet. “Oh, I’ll try that thrill, that chill, that sexual adventure, that fun fix. I’ll try to do that or make that amount of money, or acquire that.” And in reality, you know what I’m talking about, we’re munching on maggots. Maybe you’re just discovering the fact you’re munching on maggots, and you’re missing the ultimate carbohydrate. I’ve got to ask you, “What are you feeding on? What are you feeding on? What are you putting your stock in? What is your sustenance? What fuels you?”
I’ve got some good news for you. The crib of Christ is there. He’s the bread of life. You eat the bread, it’ll satisfy you in this life and also for the next. It’ll give you meaning and focus and purpose and power and a clear conscious. Even if there was no such thing as heaven, it would be worth it to be a Christ-follower because you can live life guilt-free. It’s the way we’re made to live. Our cribs are not made for grain and hay and maggots. You know what they’re made for? They’re made for Christ in swaddling clothes.
THE SWADDLING CLOTHES
“What’s up with that, Ed?” If you did some study and you learned about travel during the ancient days, often men and women would wear shawls when they would take a trip, because more often than not they would die while they traveled. Wouldn’t that be exciting? Call your travel agent, “Yes, I want to go to so and so. Book me there.” And the agent would go, “You know, you will probably die.” “Oh, okay.”
Well, these death shawls were like walking caskets. When they would die, when they would clock out, they would dig holes for the dead person, wrap them in the death shawl, chuck them in the hole—ahhhh, boom—and bury them. That was it.
Many people believe the swaddling clothes that Mary used to wrap Jesus in was actually her death shawl, thus symbolizing and mirroring the fact that Christ was going to die on the cross for our sins; the fact that they were going to wrap Christ in burial cloths and put him in another manger-like structure, a tomb.
And we know the rest of the story. He burst through with the resurrection power. Isn’t that amazing as we study the significance, the meaning of this manger scene?
How about the shepherds? What were these guys doing? Well, they were sipping strong Starbuck’s and leaning on sticks and staffs and all that, checking everything out. The angels show up. You know who these shepherds were? They were temple shepherds. Most scholars believe they were the shepherds who took care of the unblemished lambs used in the sacrificial system, because the unblemished lambs were slain and their blood was shed to atone for the people’s sins.
As they begin to run to the crib of Christ, as they drop their cups of Starbuck’s, as they begin to cruise toward the crib, do you think these guys connected the dots? Do you think they said, “Wow! We’re leaving the unblemished lambs, and now we’re seeing what’s going to be the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”
The Christmas story is real and raw. Our lives are real and raw, as well. If we could do a “Cribs” episode in your heart, in your life, and we could put this episode on the side screens, what would we see? Who’s running the show? Who’s calling the shots? I mean, come on, what’s the meaning of your life? To do deals and die? To retire at 65 and buy a house in the mountains or on the shore? Is that it? To give your kids money? To just have fun? Whoa! That’s it?
There’s more than that. And if you’re not experiencing more than that, you are missing the ultimate. Your life will never ever discover its potential or hit on all the cylinders until you say, “Hey, my crib, my life is built for Christ’s crib. It’s built for a Crucial Relationship Initiated By the Savior.”
And you can count ceiling tiles, you can think about this or that or what you’re going to eat tonight, but all of us are going to die. The stats on death are overwhelming. One out of one clock out. And you’re not ready to live, I’m not ready to live, until we’re ready to die. So, I’m going to ask you right now, as you look at the crib, the reason it confronts you is because it’s all about the cross. Are you ready to die? If you were to die tonight, are you sure you would live in eternity with Christ? Because the Bible says—these aren’t my words—the Bible says if Christ is not in your crib, then you’re not going to get to where you want to go.
“But, man, I’m a good guy. I’ve kept my nose clean. I’m religious. I’ve been baptized or homogenized or pasteurized. I’ve gone through confirmation. I’m Catholic. I’m Baptist. I’m Lutheran.” Good. But the Bible says religion is just a man-made system of dos and don’ts that gets you nowhere. Because on my best day, on your best day, we all fall miserably short of God’s standards. We’re outcasts because of our sins. And no matter how good we are, good is not good enough. So, if you’re counting on being a good guy, you’re facing a Christ-less eternity.
And you can say, “Well, I can’t believe he’s saying that.” Fine. I’m just telling you what the Bible says. We’re talking about reality here. I’m just telling you what the Bible says. But here’s the good news. I don’t care where you are, how bad you are, how far away you are, or what you’re involved in, you matter to God. God is crazy about you. He brought you here to this service for a reason. And I’m going to tell you right now, if you’ll open up your crib to Christ and ask him to come in, he will change your life. Just like he did with these shepherds, these rejects, these outcasts; he’ll come into your life.
So how about it? I mean, I can’t do it for you. How about it? Isn’t it time that you dined on the ultimate carbohydrate? Isn’t it time that you open up the crib of your life and allow Christ to be born there? Isn’t it about time?