In pm's words
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December 25, 2018, 12:00 AM

the one about that journey...


Sermon from Christmas Eve, 2018

Text: Luke 2:1-20

 

What joy it is to be with you all this, the most awe inspiring of nights!  I am so happy that each of you are here to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ here at The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Whether you’re new here, been here for a while, or visiting I am delighted that you are here this night.  Will y’all pray with me?

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

As many of y’all know, I’m a huge nerd. It’s why we have our monthly faith study called Nerd Word – where I and others get to bridge our geeky passions with our questions and stories of faith. It’s a lot of fun – y’all should check it out too. Plus, there’s food.

So, in that realm, this evening I wanted to share with all of you one of the best quotes I’ve heard in a while. And it just so happens to come from the latest season of Doctor Who.

As the doctor says goodbye again to another weary band of travelers that have been helped, she leaves them with these words.

“None of us knows for sure what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Keep your faith. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you; constantly.”

I heard that and could not help but think how much that resonates with us – those who follow and look to the one who has come to be with us.

There are many questions that we ask ourselves during this time of year, because we don’t know what’s out there. Did we get all the gifts we intended to get? When will our family get here? Can we even make it through the holidays with our families this year? What should I get so-and-so for Christmas? Is there truly light present in the darkness? And, of course the question many children ask, “Do we have to go to church… we were just here yesterday!?” 

We can also ask ourselves another question… How will we get to Bethlehem?  Where do we go to see what has been given to us by God on this day?

As we heard from Luke’s Gospel this evening, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem as part of a family going about their everyday life. 

Or look at the shepherds as well, who come to Bethlehem by way of a dramatic, heavenly revelation.

The one common thread through all these paths is that no matter what path they took, that path has lead each of them to the same place. These paths lead to Bethlehem, the city of David, where a child sleeps, who is the messiah, the Christ for the entire world, the Word incarnate!

And how did you, my brothers and sisters, come here tonight? We have all traveled down different roads as we continue to seek and look to come to where we are now to celebrate this birth in Bethlehem.

You may be a member here at Redeemer and you came to celebrate the birth of our Lord because it is a part of your everyday life of faith. Or maybe, you are a single parent, seeking a way to relax and to hear the comforting words of the Gospel. Maybe, you are lonely or depressed and you’re seeking to hear the word of the One who does indeed love you and care for you and to hear about how that is manifested. Maybe you’re even curious as to this rumor of a baby named Jesus and who he is? Maybe you’re seeking something and you don’t really know what it might be at this point, but it has lead you here; to this place. Maybe you’ve seen enough trouble and heartbreak over the past few weeks and you need to hear words of hope, hymns of promise, and taste the body and blood of the one who has come to be with us.

No matter how you’ve come to this place, it has led you here, to the story of Bethlehem to behold the promise of God; to see this child, the Lord of Lords, the King of kings. You have come to Jesus. You have come to God. By whatever road we take, the story invites us all to Bethlehem. You’ve traveled here, just like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, full of hope. Not sure what you’d find, but traveled hopefully for what God has done, is doing, and is about to accomplish.

What do we witness in Bethlehem?

God has pulled back the heavens and comes physically to the created world… as a child… as a baby. Think about that for a minute, let it sink in. And not only that, but God was born into a poor peasant family, a family that if looked upon by others would not be lifted up. Instead, they’d probably be scoffed at with others’ noses held high. Our Lord, born to a young girl, pregnant and soon to be married to a man who is not her baby’s daddy. Yeah, this isn’t what the world is looking for.

In all the ways that God could come to be with us, God chooses a way that is so… surprising. God chooses a way that I can almost assure you that we would not choose. One would expect God to come with all the pomp and pageantry into the world as the messiah befitting a marvelous king or emperor.

In fact, that is what most of Israel thought would happen (and truthfully, it is probably what most would want and expect today as well). Most thought that God would come as a strong, powerful, or cosmic figure who would lay waste to all the enemies of Israel. They never imagined that the messiah would come into the world as someone as weak, helpless, and dependent as an infant. 

God has typically been made known in ways that draw attention pretty startingly. The stories of fire, wind, and voice have been shared for generations about how God is made known and ‘shows up’ in the world. From what the nation of Israel had experienced, coming into the world as the Word incarnate as a child is NOT what anyone expected. But it IS how God came, and through this child, the one they called Jesus, God brings salvation and peace to the entire world.

Here, God surprises the world and begins life amongst us, fully flesh and blood. Coming into this world as any old human would. Being born, taking those first breaths just as any of us would have.

Here, God surprises the world and has promised to live life as one of God’s own creation. God begins to show how far that proclaimed love can go.

Here, at this beginning, God surprises the world and will show through Jesus what love really is. Being present with us through all of life – birth and eventually death.

Here – in Bethlehem where the bread of life is born; we are surprised. Constantly.

Our roads lead to this place and this moment. No matter how you got here, this is the place you find yourself right now.

And you know what? We don’t know what to expect as we come to this place.

Mary and Joseph have been told what this child means, and whose this child is. But, did they know for sure what that would look like? Maybe, but like most new parents I doubt it. We don’t know – for sure – what’s out there for us.

Those shepherds after they heard the angel’s message – did they know what they would find? Perhaps, but I’m not so sure. They’ve been told, but do they know truly what to look for? We all have our ideas of what this – this faith, this life, this hope – will look like, but we still have no idea what it’s really like.

But, as we search and gather together, we do so by keeping our faith. We travel together in hope for what God has given to us and what God continues to call us towards.

And as we travel full of hope – together – we are constantly surprised by what and how and where God is at work in the world.

Where God is made known in the unexpected, the outside-the-norm. God is made known in ways that throw us for loops.

So, I think the Doctor is right.

None of us knows for sure what is out there, but we keep looking and our God shows us the way. Our God shares life and love with us – with the entire world. And it begins this night.

Keep your faith. Know that God is indeed at work; still doing this new and wondrous thing.

Travel together; hopefully. We journey as sisters and brothers finding where God is – here in this Word, here in this meal, here in this place, here within each other. We travel full of hope because God has promised to be with us through all of this. And it begins tonight, in this wondrous and unexpected way in Bethlehem.

And as we travel, we are surprised by God. Constantly.

It is a journey full of hope, full of love, full of life.

We may not know what to expect, but we do this – this life of faith – together as a community, as followers of Christ, as sisters and brothers.

Unexpectedly and surprisingly, God has come to be with us. This night. This moment. We celebrate that love of God come down to be with us. We celebrate, and we share. We gift this love to others because we have already received it.

Know this love – this surprising love of God come down to be with us.

Keep your faith, travel hopefully, God will surprise you. Constantly. Amen.


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