Thursday, December 24, 2015

Yes- We Matter, Yes-God Cares, Yes- We are Worth It; Christmas Eve Message 2015

Rev. George Miller
Christmas Eve
Dec 24, 2015

Our faith is one of wonder, one of majesty, and one of miracles.

Sometimes we lose sight of this.

News of the world brings us down: death, terrorists, natural disasters, injustice.

They mire us in reality, in bleakness, and place us into the dark. Yet Scripture keeps finding ways to bring us back towards the light.

The Gospel of John reminds us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome the light.”

Genesis reminds us of how a rainbow was placed in the sky to remind us of God’s promise.

Exodus tells us of words spoken from a fiery bush that leads to the freedom of slaves, to seas that are parted, bread from heaven and words given from a mountaintop.

Yet, throughout history, the people have asked “Do we matter?” “Does God care about us?” “Are we worth it?”

In our doubts, sin creeps in. Unsure of the answers to these questions, we are overtaken by anger, jealousy, wars, greed, hate, and fear.

Which makes us wonder even more: “Do we matter?” “Does God care about us?” “Are we worth it?”

So God continues to fill our lives with wonders, majesty, and miracles.

We are led to the Promised Land. Walls come tumbling down. Lions become gentle. Oil, flour, and candles do not run out.

Still, we wonder: “Do we matter?” “Does God care about us?” “Are we worth it?”

Tonight, dear friends, family, and followers of the faith, we get answers to these questions.

Tonight, as we arrive at the manger in Bethlehem and look upon the Face of God, we discover that “Yes!”

“Yes, we matter. Yes, God cares for us. And yes- we are so, so worth it.”

So let’s revisit the Christmas story as told by Luke. It’s a story that doesn’t begin tonight, or 9 months ago, but over a year ago.

A couple named Zechariah and Elizabeth are living in Judea. They are an older couple who sadly have never had a child.

Gabriel, a heavenly messenger of God, visits Zechariah with astounding news- his wife will have a son, a boy named John who will bring joy and gladness, who will bring people back to God.

6 months later, in a small town by Galilee, Gabriel visits Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary, who is engaged to be married.

“The Lord is with you,” the angel proclaims. “You will have a child, and he’ll be great. His Kingdom will have no end. Your holy child will be the Son of God.”

Mary is young; she is perplexed, but she accepts the call to carry new life within her womb, and says with great courage “Here I am, servant of the Lord.”

Mary journeys to Elizabeth’s home, where the two women, filled with the promise of life, spend their days together, magnifying the Lord and anticipating the things that God will do.

As it so happens, life interrupts. The Emperor, seeking to create new tax revenue, orders a census to be taken, forcing people to journey to their hometown.

Though she is 9 months pregnant, Mary and her fiancé Joseph make the long trek to Bethlehem, a small, tiny country town.

But there is no place for them to stay; no one has room for them.

They are virtually alone.

In the darkness of homelessness, loneliness, and politics, Mary gives birth to her child. He is wrapped in swaddling and placed in a feeding trough designed for farm animals.

It is there, that the family is greeted by shepherds, who come to share the good news and to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

What does this mean? Why does this story matter?

For one thing, it’s a reminder of how wonder, majesty, and miracles do indeed exist.

On a deeper level, it is a celebration of how God loves us so much that God wanted to fully share in our daily life.

It is a celebration of how God is not distant, but actually has entered into our lives.

It is a celebration of how God came into the world to be just like us.

God could have stayed away; God could have waited for a more stable moment in history.

God could have chosen to be born to a king, in a palace, with servants and slaves, placed in a crib lined with 600-thread-count cotton sheets.

But instead God came into our world during a chaotic time, to ordinary folk, in a small, rural town, surrounded by the sounds and smells of common creatures.

And God did so to be our Messiah, to be our Emmanuel, to bring peace among the people.

In tonight’s reading from Titus, we hear of how through Jesus the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.

We hear how in Jesus, God freely gave Godself so that we can be redeemed; so we can become more humble, to live in hope, and to have the audacity to expect glory and greatness.

God did not allow a childless, older couple to get in the way of hope for the world. God did not allow a young woman’s marital status to get in the way of doing an amazing thing.

God did not allow a greedy Emperor, or a shortage of rooms, or the lack of a proper crib to get in the way of bringing deliverance and happiness to the people.

God used what God had in order to do wonders, to bring about majesty, and to create a miracle…

…Sometimes we all have moments in which we lose our faith. We have moments in which we wonder. We have moments in which we become incredibly afraid.

It’s hard not to when so much of life seems to hang on the tiniest thread of hope.

It’s hard not to when terrorism, natural disaster, politics, illness, death, racism, sexism, and poverty all continue to darken the light.

But then- Christmas comes along! The stories, the songs, the sense of community, the generosity of folk, the spirit of the season comes in and once again, we are reminded of just how God works.

Christmas reminds us of the unexpected places in which God does wonders: small towns, mangers, fields filled with migrant workers.

Christmas reminds us of the majestic ways in which God works through non-traditional families, homelessness, and scarcity.

Christmas reminds us of how God brings forth miracles to unexpected people: a couple thought too old to have children, a young girl who is not yet married, shepherds who earn their keep while other people sleep, even Emperors who wish to have a tighter control over their citizens.

Why would God do all this?


Because creation, rainbows, freedom, commandments, tumbling walls, gentle lions, unlimited food supplies were not enough.

So on top of all that God has already done, God said “Let me show you how much I love you. Let me show you how much I care.”

“Let me show you that I am not distant, aloof, or uncaring.”

“Let me come to you as you, to share in your suffering and your sanctity. To share in your sorrows and your success.”

“Let me come to you to share in your joy and your pain; to share in your life…and to even share in your death.”

…So tonight, let us stop trying to be so rational, to be so serious, to be so afraid.

Our faith is one of wonder, one of majesty, and one of miracles.

Sometimes we lose sight of this.

Instead of letting the darkness of the world to bog us down, let us turn back towards the light.

Let us embrace the wonder, the majesty, and the miraculous.

Tonight, as we prepare to see the face of God in the manger, to welcome Baby Jesus, let us boldly say:

“Yes! We matter!”

“Yes! God does care about us!”

And “Yes! We are worth it!”

All we have to do is to look at the manger to know that this is true.

Amen and amen.

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