I designed and photographed this image of a stepladder with lights and an angel topping it off as an illustration for a short story I wrote in 2007 called A Christmas Ladder. The story first premiered as my 2007 Christmas Eve message. Normally I preach without notes but for this sermon I read the story.
The story is about nine-year-old twins, Amber and Alex, who are being raised by their single mother. The family can’t afford a Christmas tree so the twins decorate an old stepladder with lights, decorations, and an angel perched on top.
Their pastor, Pastor Bill, upon paying the family a visit, is very impressed with their Christmas ladder and asks to borrow the specially decorated ladder for the Christmas Eve Service. With Amber, Alex, and their mother in the front pew, he explains to the congregation where the ladder has come from, glancing at the twins. He then uses it as an object lesson for his Christmas Eve message.
Pastor Bill explains, “The Bible says that God loved the world so much that He sent His own Son Jesus from heaven to earth. He did this because the world is all messed up with sin. We all need God’s love and forgiveness. This is why He sent Jesus to earth in the form of a little baby. The baby Jesus grew up. He was a great teacher and He healed many people. He did many wonderful things, but the most wonderful thing He did was die on a cross so that our sins could be forgiven. That is why God sent Jesus. That is why Jesus came, to take away our sins so that we could be close to God here on earth and someday go to His heaven forever.
“A ladder is something you go up and down. This Christmas ladder has an angel at the top. The angels are in heaven, way up high and out there somewhere, is how we picture them,” Pastor Bill said, pointing upward. Then he pointed to the base of the ladder and said, “And at the bottom of the ladder is the stable with a manger in it and the baby Jesus in the manger. Jesus left heaven where the angels are and came down to earth. He wanted to join us, to be one of us.
“Jesus came down to earth because He loves us. Jesus came down to us so that someday we can go up to heaven to be with Him. This is the message of Christmas. This is the message of the Christmas ladder.”
The story is designed to be read to children, but to be enjoyed and taken to heart by the adult reading it as well. I thought I’d share it with you too. Because God came to us we can come to Him! May this reminder give you a lift in the middle of your week. My hope is you’ll never look at a stepladder the same way again!
(If you want to read or listen to the complete story, go to my web site at www.daveclaassen.com and click on the appropriate link. You may also order the eBook version from Amazon through my web site.)
Position a spiritual growth chart on the wall of your mind. Where would you place the mark for where you were in your walk with the Lord a year ago at the beginning of 2013? Where would you put the mark for where you are right now, at the beginning of 2014?
Healthy physical growth results, in major part, from good nutrition: eating vegetables, whole grains, Twinkies. No Twinkies? OK, scratch the Twinkies. Physical growth also depends on a good environment and exercise.
Similarly, spiritual growth is the result of good nutrition. Reading the Bible regularly is key; self-feeding is what we need to be. The best environment is to regularly surround ourselves with fellow Christians in a small group and in a worship service. Spiritual exercise comes from serving the Lord through a ministry within the church and reaching out to the needs of those outside the church.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3) I’m thinking it would be great if we could all be thankful for the spiritual growth we see in ourselves and in those fellow followers of Christ we know a year from now! Let’s keep growing!