I read an unusual Christmas sermon about a group who tied the baby Jesus into a manger. The Christmas pageant was being presented in a public area. They would set the stage, go to change into their costumes; then discovered someone had taken the baby doll from the manger before the pageant began. Their solution was to strap the baby doll into the manger. The preacher reflected on how throughout Jesus' life people had attempted to tie or strap Jesus down.
People tried to tie Jesus down by demanding He ignore pain and suffering until after the Sabbath. They tried to tie Jesus down by demanding He follow Jewish practices. They tried to tie Jesus down when He reached across racial and gender lines to bring hope and healing. They tried to tie Jesus to a cross when He refused to do things their way. However, all of their efforts were futile. Jesus couldn't be tied down, not even by death.
The good news of Christmas is that Jesus not only refused to be tied down; He also frees us from the things that tie us down. Depression, failure, divorce, addiction, and bankruptcy cannot tie us down. Hatred, jealousy, poverty, wealth, education, and illness lose their power over us. Jesus Christ sets us free. That Baby -- born in a stable -- is God with us. Jesus breaks the forces that place us in bondage and condemn us to death.
No wonder the angels were singing! The shepherds felt compelled to go and see for themselves. They could not remain on the hillside keeping watch over their flocks. The whole order of the universe was changed that evening. The world could never be the same again. God became a human being, and we were set free.
-- U. M. Bishop D. Max Whitfield, New Mexico Conference United Methodist Reporter, Dec. 20, 2002