the one about expectations...
December 25, 2017, 12:00 AM

Sermon from December 24, 2017
Christmas Eve

Text: Luke 2: 1-20


Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ!

Welcome to this night – this the night of celebration – God born into the world.

Birth. For those who have witnessed it is a pretty powerful experience. The labor, the screams, the pain, the sweat, the tears – but, enough about what dads go through. Can you imagine what the moms are dealing with? Birth is a beautifully chaotic experience.

So much preparation goes into a birth, there is so much thought as to what this child will bring to our lives. There is so much expectation. What are they going to be like? How are they going to sound? What will they like – will the like the things I like? What if they like the things that I don’t like? How am I going to deal with that?

Through all that noise, the breathing, the pain a child is born. You love on that child, you care for that child, you make promises to that child in that immediate moment as that child, your child, is placed in your arms.

There are so many expectations that follow of what this child will be like.

Before the birth that we celebrate this night, there were expectations of what the messiah – the Christ, the anointed one of God – would be like.

Powerful and mighty.

Kindness and grace.

Wisdom and strength.


Some thought that ‘the one who is to come’ would be a brilliant mind able to solve the worlds problems and issues. Some thought this one would possess cunning debate skills able to leave opposition speechless. Some thought this one would possess cosmic power to lay waste to the enemies of God and Israel.

I’d imagine that – for the most part – none thought it would quite be like what God had in store. As thoughts swirled in minds about what could be, it was as if God was saying, “this is not going to go the way you think!”

There’s something that I think every parent comes to terms with in those first few moments, days, and weeks after an infant is welcomed into their home through birth, adoption, or foster care. The expectations that we have for our children are a long way off. You might hope that your child will have a wicked curve ball, or the charisma of the next best actor in a leading role, but that’s a long way off. A long way off.

For the moment, your kid is capable of crying, sleeping, eating, and messing their pants – at least two of those things at the same time. Always. A part form that, babies really can’t do a whole lot.

So, one of the biggest scandals of our faith is that the all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God that we worship breaks into the world that was formed by that one’s very own words as a baby. We believe that. We worship that. We celebrate that tonight.

It’s pretty crazy isn’t it?

We worship a God who is born to the world and is dependent upon every person he meets. The messiah can’t even hold his own head up without a help.

That’s our God come down to be with us in love!

Some might (and have throughout history) scoff at this ludicrous idea. Yet, there is something special and powerful in the role that God continues to play not only this night, but every night since because of this act of love.

No matter whose child it is – when you see a baby you cannot help, but smile and have an urge to care for that baby in some way. Your words get a little more tender, your actions a little more gentle – just from being in the presence of a newborn.

You can begin to reflect about what you are doing and how that looks and what people might think. Perhaps you want to be better because of this kid present now.

As your child grows into, changes, and grows beyond our expectations, you begin to realize how much this kind individual has taught you about love, grace, and forgiveness. And we have so much more to learn.

New life has the power to do that to us.

I think it’s still a pretty crazy way in which God is made known to us most fully in the world. That through love come down, God is born as a baby to the world.

But, much like a newborn in our life – God fully present with us in this birth for the world can make us reflect a little bit about who and whose we are. How our actions towards others are seen. God’s presence has made us (and continues to make us) a little more tender and gentle. We are able to be better – to be the way God has created us – because of God’s presence in our life. As we’ve grown, we’ve grown into, changed, and grown beyond the expectations that we have for ourselves and perhaps the expectations that God has had for us.

We’ve begun to realize how this birth – this in-breaking of God into the world – has continued to teach us about love, grace, and forgiveness. And we have so much more to learn.

Our God is born to us this night as one who needs to be cared for. Through caring for our God as an infant, we are called to care for the ones God has created as well – all those before us. Those we know and those we have yet to meet.

It seems God’s way of being made known in the world might not be as ridiculous as first thought. Perhaps, through this birth and celebration, we just might learn what power and might; kindness and grace; wisdom and strength; and hope really is. Amen.

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