Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Sermon, Dec 24, 2012; Luke 2:1-20

Rev. George Miller
Luke 2:1-20
Dec 24, 2012

Once upon a time there was a good ol’ boy from the country. His name was Micah.

He was raised in a farming community with decent and honest folk who loved God, lived off the land and worked with their hands.

Maybe they didn’t speak so good; their language was clipped and colorful. But that didn’t matter because it was family and community that were important. Neighborly manners were valued and folk took care of one another.

Then Micah traveled 25 miles north to the big city of Jerusalem. He did not like what he saw.

The rulers were corrupt. The merchants were dishonest. The judges could be bought with a bribe.

Perhaps worse of all were the so-called religious leaders. The prophets told outright lies. The priests spoke heavenly words in the Temple but did ungodly things the other 6 days of the week.

Micah may have been corn-fed, but he knew enough that what he saw was wrong. Instead of accepting it and doing nothing, Micah did something.

Even though he didn’t have the best vocabulary, he put pen to parchment and became the first Old Testament prophet to predict the destruction of the Holy City.

In Micah’s view, the people were living on a spiritual, financial, social cliff and if something did not happen soon, they would totter off real fast.

Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

But Micah was not a man bent on just gloom and doom. As a country boy, he knew that everything had a season; that times of drought can be followed by times of new beginnings.

Micah reminded the people that God requires us “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with the (our) Lord.” (Micah 6:8)

He also made a prediction of hope for the world. In Micah 5:2-5, he wrote

“But you, O Bethlehem…who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth…one who is to rule in Israel…and he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord his God.”

“And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.”

Interesting that it took a small town boy to point out the fact that our salvation was not going to come from government and big business; nor would it come from a place of opulence, dominance or greed.

But that our salvation would come from someone who seemingly came from nothing but will ensure we all have enough.

Micah may have spoken rough, but he understood the importance of peace. And that is what we experience tonight. That is why we are gathered here.

Because today we celebrate the realization of Micah’s prophecy, that even in the midst of world chaos God is able to do amazing things.

For the past four Sundays we have been preparing for this event. We have studied the story in Luke. We have focused on words like hope and joy, peace and love.

Today, we embrace the word Emmanuel, which means “God With Us.”

Tonight we experience how God enters into our life, how salvation comes to the world.

And note how Luke tells the story.

Big government has gotten bigger. The emperor decrees a census, one that will probably influence taxes.

Mary and Joseph make their way into town right before her water breaks. But alas, there is no place for this peasant family to stay and no one willing to share their room even with a pregnant woman.

And it is in this simple, bare scenario that God enters in and does something new.

As far removed from a princely palace as one can be, Mary gives birth to her child in a manger, a place for animals and farm implements.

Of all the ways God could have entered into our lives, it happened this way.

So vulnerable. So lowly, so meek, so mild.
So surrounded by the sounds and smells of real life.

And instead of being visited by paparazzi and movie stars, it is the common working men who first visit Jesus that night, praising his name and sharing all that they’ve heard.

The significance of this is staggering, because what Luke is telling us, is that Jesus did not come into the world separated from us. Jesus did not come into this world with a trust find and servants.

No, Jesus came into our world, as one of us.

He was born under the shadow of questionable politics. He was born under limited resources.

He was born surrounded by every-day kind of folk struggling to make a decent living.

He was born into a life, which let’s be honest, did not smell or look so nice.

But it is because of those things that Jesus becomes the one we can turn to, the one who understands us, the one who cares for us, the one who watches over and feeds us. The one who forgives us.

And it does not matter if you are from a small country town or a big city, if you’re a good ol’ boy or a politician, if you are old or young, male or female, poor or rich, full of joy or living with sadness.

In Jesus, we will be fed; in him we will find peace.

In conclusion, tonight, we have journeyed to Bethlehem ready for the prophecy of Micah to come true.

To discover just what God is going to do, ready to experience the arrival of the one who will usher in peace and feed us all.

Tonight, we look to the manger, stripped down to the very reality of life.

The manger where magnificent simplicity takes the form of a mother, a father and a child.

Where stripped of possessions, stripped of politics, stripped of piety, God comes to us, not as a prince, not as a politician, but as a baby.

As one of us.

Therefore, Jesus can never be a stranger to us and the light that he brings into the world is one that can dispel any kind of darkness, the peace that he brings will quiet any storm.

All we have to do tonight is to welcome him once again into our lives and to let him feed us in the strength of our Lord.

And in response, we get to leave the manger believing we too have enough and that under his guidance we can do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

Amen and amen.

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