Hear! God’s here.
This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013.
Readings: Luke 2:1-20
Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear so that together, we might be inspired to speak and live your Word in the world starting today. Amen.
It’s a scene many of us have heard or at least seen portrayed many times if only through the light up lawn ornaments in people’s front yards.
The Birth of Jesus.
Mary and Joseph return to Joseph’s hometown so that they can be registered in the census lists. They’re required by law to make the journey, but Mary wasn’t fond of going. She didn’t like that backwater, hick-town. On top of that , she was now 9 months pregnant and the journey from Nazareth (Mary’s hometown) to Bethlehem was not an easy one especially with swollen feet and an altered center of gravity.
Joseph had traveled the road many times during their extended engagement, but even he was concerned. Traveling was risk. Mary was pregnant; and, thieves would surely be lurking in the dark looking for easy targets. Mary, 9 months pregnant, and Joseph, “being a righteous man” carrying all her luggage, were an easy target.
We don’t know how they made the trip. We don’t know if they took the harder, shorter route; or, if they took the longer, flatter route. Tradition tells us that Mary rode on a donkey, but neither Gospel actually records how they traveled the over 80 miles between Nazareth and Bethlehem. All we know is that after a long and exhausting trip that would have taken them between 4 and 7 days there was no place for them to sleep.
Mary, in her exhaustion, was livid. Joseph was supposed to have called ahead to make arrangements with his family so that there would be a nice, warm place for them to stay at the Griswolds—one of Joseph’s cousins–it was supposed to be the “perfect family Christmas.” But, the journey took longer than expected and Joseph’s other cousin Eddie had rolled up in his beat up motor home with his dog “Snot” and his rough and tumble kids who quickly took up residence in the guest room… sorry, I’m mixing stories.
At any rate, the house was full. There was no room for Mary and Joseph in the guestroom, let alone any other room inside. So, they took cover in the stable beside the house and hoped for warmer and drier weather.
6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
Luke 2:6-7, Common English Bible
Some shepherds were living in the fields nearby. They had just fallen asleep when light filled the sky. Their eyes still a haze, adjusting to the light, they heard a booming voice proclaim, “Don’t be afraid. I know you probably just wet the hay, but listen. Hear!
I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom [God] favors.”
Luke 2:10-14, Common English Bible
Hear the Good News! The Savior is born:
and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:
23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel.
(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)
Matthew 1:21b-23, Common English Bible
Hear! God is here.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the details of the Christmas story that we forget: the real miracle of Christmas is not that a virgin has conceived and bore a child. It’s not that prophecies have been fulfilled; it’s that God has come to be with us: Immanuel.
Hear (with your ears)! the Good News.
In Jesus Christ, God has come into the muck and the mire of the human situation to roll around in the dirt with us humans in order to rescue us from the muck and the mire. Instead of coming into this world in the royal garb worn only in a palace, this God chooses to be born to nobody peasants in a nowhere backwater town. The announcement of his birth is made to lowly, smelly shepherds, and the star appears to some far off… magi… who were astrologers, horoscope readers, no less.
Hear (with your ears)! God is here. God has not abandoned the world. God has come into it. And, it doesn’t matter how insignificant or significant you might think you are. It doesn’t matter how dark, broken, and cold your life might be. It doesn’t matter if you have faith or not. God is here. God is here to mend our brokenness and restore our relationships. God is here to show us the way that leads to eternal love, joy, and peace.
Hear (with your ears)! God is here; and, that’s good news for all people.
 Allan R. Bevere, “The God of Christmas Is an Embarrassment” at AllanBevere.com <http://www.allanbevere.com/2013/12/the-god-of-christmas-is-embarrassment.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+allanbevere%2FROss+%28Allan+R.+Bevere%29&m=1> Accessed December 23, 2013.