I do appreciate Advent, but I am excited for Christmas.
This Sunday at Marion will not be an ordinary Sunday, but an extraordinary Christmas celebration!
There will be Christmas plays, a choir, and lots of Christmas music!
We will break away slightly from our Advent theme of Dare to imagine. I invite you to mediate Luke Chapter 2 this week…
New Revised Standard Version
The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,[a] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,[b] praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”[c]
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Jesus Is Named
21 After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[d] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[e]27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[f] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[g] took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[h] in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[i] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna[j] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[k] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The child has been born. He is “wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
To us “is born this day … a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
I don’t mean them as funny or sarcastic questions.
They’re serious and important questions.
Now what? So what?
These are the same questions I had the day our son, Jonathan, was born.
Everything had changed. I thought things I had never thought before, felt things I had never felt before, and asked questions I had never asked before.
Though I had known him only a short time I was pretty sure I liked him but what if he didn’t like me. And how do you change a diaper? Am I ready to be a dad? I wonder what this is giving and offering me? What will he ask of me? What does it mean that this child has been born to me?
Maybe you remember that day with your own children. Maybe your mom or dad told you what it was like for them the day you were born or adopted. Maybe you’ve heard friends or family talk about that day. And even if you’ve not had those experiences, I’m betting you’ve had times in your life when you asked yourself, “Now what? So what?”
They’re the questions we ask when we recognize that everything has changed, that something is going on beyond and within what just happened. Most times it’s difficult or even impossible to name it.
“Now what? So what?”
They’re not questions to be answered but to be pondered.
What do you imagine Mary might have been pondering about that morning and about this child?
And what are you pondering about on Christmas and this child?
Babies have a way of changing everything without really doing anything. They’re just there and everything is different. I wonder what this Bethlehem baby changes for you.
- What difference has Jesus made in your life?
- What difference is Jesus making in your life today?
- What difference do you hope Jesus will make or need him to make in your life?
And how does any of that come about?
This baby can’t talk, walk, or feed himself.
Remember, the angel did not say that someday, when he grows up, in thirty years or so, he’ll be a savior.
So how can this child, this day, “wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger” be to us “a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Maybe it happens with this baby as is does with any baby. A newborn child is the image of weakness and powerlessness. Whatever this child needs or wants will have to be done for him by someone else.
Maybe that someone else is you and me. Maybe it’s less about what this child does or will do and more about what he insists and calls for from us.
The powerless power and the weak strength of this baby, like any baby, are in his insistence.
When our son was hungry, we fed him. When he was wet, we changed him. When he was afraid, we comforted him.
Twila and I responded again and again to what he was insisting in the moment – love, hope, peace, joy, encouragement, patience, food, clothing, play.
On my better days, when I listening and attentive, my response to his insistence made all the difference in the world, in him, and in me.
Maybe that’s how God works in our lives and the world, not so much by doing but by insisting.
Maybe that’s why God chose to most fully reveal God’s self as a newborn.
What if this birth isn’t God’s answer to the world but God’s call to the world?
Maybe this child is insisting and asking for a response from you and me.
I wonder what that might be.
It’s something to ponder.
Now what? So what? Those are our questions to answer, not his.
A Christmas video for the children….
Since Christmas has some of the best music, I thought I would share with you my favorite Christmas album. Merry listening…
Let’s worship on Sunday!
Attachments areaPreview YouTube video The Christmas Story – The Fully Animated ReadingThe Christmas Story – The Fully Animated ReadingPreview YouTube video Relient K – Have Yourself A Merry Little ChristmasRelient K – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas