In pm's words
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January 3, 2017, 12:00 AM

the one about all the noise...


Sermon from Saturday December 24, 2016

Text: Luke 2: 1-20

Grace and peace to each of you this night as we gather in celebration as a community of faith. We gather to shout with joy that the Word has become flesh. We sing with praise about our God who has come to dwell with us. We give thanks for what God has done in an unexpected way.

So, I welcome you as we gather this day in the name of the one who has come, the Word of God, the Word made flesh, the light that shines in the darkness, Jesus who is the Christ.

Will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

Whenever I begin to work on this message – for this night – I get a little nervous. What should be ‘easy’ ends up being – at times a little difficult. It’s ‘easy’ because this is such a good and well known story. The story of God coming to be with us. The story of a baby born in Bethlehem who is the fulfilment of prophecy. The story of loved literally lived out for the world.

That should be an easy story to tell.

What makes it difficult is getting through all the ‘stuff’ – the noise – to tell that story.

Noise. We’ve got a lot of it during this time of year. We experience so much of it the minute we enter this season – which for reasons I have not been able to explain seem to begin closer to October than ever before.

We’ve got the commercialized ‘noise’ that seems to get louder and louder to drown out this story. Glitter, glamour, ads, songs, manufactured cheeriness, gotta be happy, nothing bad ever happens on Christmas Eve, gotta get this, why didn’t you get that, who have you forgotten, wouldn’t this make it easier, can’t make that, can’t use that, shouldn’t say that, what’s on their cups, who’s crying now, it’s almost over, if you don’t do this…

Noise.

But, that’s not the only noise we hear and experience during this time of year. We’ve got the noise of – they want what? How can we do that again? What do you mean we aren’t doing it that way anymore? You better tell that story. How do we do this again? What did we do last year? Whose place are we going to again? Why? You always make that. You forgot me you know. What are we going to do now?

And still yet, the nose continues around us and throughout the world.

What happened today? How many died? What did he say now? That isn’t right. Sad isn’t it? Too bad. They should’ve known better. Can’t they be happy? Can’t you see?

And in the midst of all that and we read this story. And again, I see and begin to understand the ‘noise’ that Mary and Joseph must’ve gone through and heard this night.

A town so full, that the space made for them was in a stable. A town so crowded that I imagine that they could hear – over the sounds and through the smells of those animals gathered around them – of people shouting, or just talking. The dull roar of a town filled to the brim. Shouts of move over, why are we here, I’m hungry, there’s nothing to do, why did we have to come here, who are these people.

Then there is the noise that crowds our mind – that I’m sure took up space in this couple’s minds – can we really do this, what is it going to look like, do we have what we need, is God really with him, with us? I just want peace…

In that noise of this story, more noise is added – for Mary gives birth. For those who have experienced it or been witness to birth – it isn’t quiet. It isn’t clean. It isn’t altogether jolly.

I imagine the animals in that stable added to the screams of Mary as she birthed her son. More noise.

In the presence of all this noise, what I think we hope and pine for during this time is peace. And not just any peace, but peace that is brought forth immediately and overwhelmingly upon us.

I think what we want – what we really want – is God to shout from the heavens, through all the noise in our lives and even in this story, “Hey! Be quiet! Listen! I’m about to come down there!”

We want someone – anyone – to yell, “STOP!”

We want that loud and extravagant shout to knock us and others off our paths so that we all might pause, breathless at such an outrage.

I think that’s what we expect. At times, I think that’s what we want and crave.

Yet, the peace that we celebrate this night, doesn’t come like that.

Even in the midst of all that noise, clutter, smells, and more God is born into the world.

Trumpets are sounded, but not where we expect them. In fact, trumpets are sounded far and removed from society, among shifty shepherds who were grazing their flocks by night – which I can only assume wasn’t a ‘proper’ thing to do.

And the message those shepherds are given is the message we crave – peace and joy.

But, this week I pondered on that peace – that peace from the noise. The noise in our life that pulls us from hearing, experiencing, and knowing that God is with us. That God loves us. That God cares for us.

That sort of peace – that deep and abiding peace – is one that I don’t think is immediate.

Even the night that we celebrate today we are told that this peace is born.

For anyone who has seen birth, been witness to it, or was born there’s something about it – it is a process. Children are not born and know what to do. Welcoming a child into one’s home through birth, adoption, or foster care requires patience, nurture, humbleness, and lots of work.

That peace we cry for and call for has to grow up. That peace has to be nurtured. That peace has to be lived in and through. That peace has to dwell within us, so that we can live it out. That peace isn’t immediate, it isn’t easy.

That peace requires sacrifice and love. That peace requires work. That peace goes through uneasy stages. That peace lives through doubt and fear. That peace is lived. We have to participate in that peace.

We celebrate this evening the peace that is born into the world to quiet the noise. It isn’t immediate or clean or quick or easy. But, that peace is born.

That peace has dwelt within us – poured into us through our baptism. That peace has lived, died, and returned to us in new life.

And still, that peace has taken more time. More time for us to be nurtured and cared for. More time for us to take notice and cling to. That peace is here.

That peace which was proclaimed first with those shepherds, calls us to share that peace with those around us. Knowing that it won’t always be easy, it sometimes might be messy as we strive to live and share that peace with one another, with those we haven’t met, and with those that we don’t agree with or understand.

But, that peace is born.

That peace that can quiet the noise. That peace that can pull us towards God. That peace that does help us enter into the sort of space that Mary is able to get to this night, as she gathers what she hears and treasures it.

That peace that turns the ‘noise’ of the world, into shouts and praises, songs of glory and thanksgiving, words of promise and hope.

Where that noise of speaking over and around one another, turns into conversation with and for each other. Where that noise of ‘gimme gimme gimme’ is transformed into a life of here and share. Where that noise of darkness, death, and destruction is turn on its head for light, life, and beauty.

This night, we don’t celebrate that that the peace we seek is being born right now, we celebrate and remember that that peace has been born.

It’s here. God’s here. Christ has been born. Messiah has come.

There’s still a lot of growing up, nurturing, and life still to take place. There’s a lot more participation to be had in that peace.

But, God’s at work. Jesus our Christ has come. It isn’t over, but it also hasn’t just begun.

We are in the midst of it. Dwell in this peace. Share this peace. Seek this peace.

The more we do that, the more the noise quiets down and we get to see where God truly is at. Where God really is calling us towards. We get to see that God is already with us.

Peace has been born. The noise doesn’t stand a chance. Amen.

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