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Christmas Eve - Vulnerable Baby & other Common witnesses

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May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to Lord  - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - Amen.

Do you know what this is?

This is a conversation starter

         More specifically this is a fantastic item that no youth group should be without

                     It is of course a beach ball -  but it has on it 52 different questions on it and                                                                     the way it is used is… well like this…

         Throw the ball out into the congregation (to someone I know) and get them to read one

Thank you - you don’t have to answer the question in front of everyone!

The other day we were tossing this ball about and it landed on a question that asked “if you were to be any super hero - who would you be?”

         For me the answer was immediate and obvious

                     I would be Superman!

                                 He had superhuman strength

                                             He was the man of steel

                                 He could run faster then a locomotive

                                 Leap tall buildings in a single bound

                                             And he could fly…

Other than Kryptonite and the surprise of Christmas presents being ruined by x-ray vision

         I don’t see too many negatives in being Superman

If I was write a story of someone to save the world - it would be a Superman-like person

         His father, Jor-El, was both a brilliant scientist and the leader of the whole planet

                     Like a loyal ship captain he nobly stayed with the self-destructing planet and also provided                   miraculously for his son’s safe escape.

                                 Did I mention that Superman could fly…

                                             These are the elements of good story that make for a great leader, one that                                                          could save his adopted home

But this is not what God did!

         God’s ways are not our worldly ways - God turns the tables upside down and comes as a fragile little baby

His story, as recorded in the bible, surprises us in so many ways

         First - Jesus is not born to a noble or wealthy family

                     He does not start out life with the obvious advantages that worldly power or that which                        wealth can provide - He does not have a jump-start on life

                                 Mary, a young girl, a young teenager by our standards, was engaged to a working                                   class carpenter and they had not yet been married

                                             News of her pregnancy, not by Joseph, if it got out - would have been                                                     considered adultery and she would have been stoned to death

                                                         Not exactly a detail of mythological, larger than life - hero standards

Jesus was not even born to the ruling race of people - but to a people that were living under the thumb of the most powerful empire of the world at that time

         The Jewish people lived only because the Roman Empire had a policy of occupying the land which          they had conquered and letting the people continue to maintain much of their own culture provided         they paid heavy taxes - money that was then used to strengthen the Roman rule through-out the              world

                     It was the desire for even more taxes that:

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered

                     Keeping track of everyone is a way that you can get money from them

It was this census that brought a poor couple Mary and Joseph from back-waters Galilee to the city of David - Bethlehem

         The Messiah, the saviour of the world - parents’ were forced about by the whims of the worldly   powers that be

                     Not exactly how we might write our Superman story

                                 But this detail had poetic beauty in it - this fulfilled the age-old prophecy of the                                     messiah to be from Galilee and born in Nazareth of the Kingly family of David

                                             God used the greed of the Emperor to complete even the smallest of details

And who did God choose to be the witnesses of this birth

         The emperor in Rome?

         The wealthy or politicians?

         The religious elite?

         The teachers or scholars of the day?

                     No, none of these - God sent his angels to announce the coming of the Lord - the messiah                         to outcasts - shepherds

                                 People that spent most of there days watching over other people’s livestock

                                             People that were hardened by the job of guiding and protecting animals

                                                         Traveling on rocky hill country, unprotected against the elements

                                                                     The cold and the rain - watching animals

                                                                                 God made these people the witnesses to the glory of                                                                                 Jesus the Christ, the messiah’s birth

By today’s standards if we were to promote the arrival of the greatest person to live - we might get Donald Trump to promote it and make the announcement at the half-time of the Super-bowl or maybe the opening ceremonies of the Olympics or the World cup

But God’s ways are not our ways

         It was shepherds that were given the task of witnessing the heavenly host and the arrival of Jesus

                     Not in a palace but in a lowly animal food trough - a manger

All of this, all the aspects of God’s ‘stealth marketing’ begs the question - why?

         Why would God in the flesh - God amongst us - Emmanuel - come this way

                     To humble, near-peasants parents - Mary and Joseph - witnesses by shepherds

Well as I have said before - God’s ways are not our worldly ways

         God plan is not how we might plan a ‘Superman in the midst of us’

Jesus’ entry into the world as a fragile baby was to unsettle us

         To shatter the expectations - to show us how ‘the way the world does things’ needs to be turned on         it’s head

                     We celebrate Christmas - Christ - Mass - the feast of the coming of the messiah, the Christ

                                 As the greatest unexpected gift the world has ever witnessed

Unexpected in so many ways

         Yet more complete then we could ever imagine - more details provided then we could ever have thought of ourselves

                     I will go out on a limb and say I bet there are no Kings or Queens or rulers here today

                                 And yet God showed us how he came into the world, in the midst of us, in a humble                             way, a common way - born unglamorously in the midst of an animal stable

                                             to common people

                                 To be witnessed by society’s outcasts - shepherds - and for the outcasts of society

                                             We all have aspects of our lives that make us feel alienated from the world

                                                         It is to this that God chose to show His glory

Now you may be here tonight - brought by family or here because Church at Christmas seems like the right thing to do

         And it is

                     and we are so glad - overjoyed in fact - that you are here tonight

                                 It is for you especially that I share this message tonight

                                             God came into this world as a fragile baby - a helpless little baby

                                                         needing protection from the world by his parent’s Mary and Joseph

                                 And God sent his angels to tell the outcasts of society of this miracle

                                             It was to less then common people that God chose to reveal his majesty

                                                        

         And God want to break into all of our lives as well

                     We are supposed to be shocked by the arrival of God in the flesh as a fragile baby

                                 We are all called to be like Mary and Joseph and nurture that baby in our hearts

                                             We are all called to be like the shepherds, humble ordinary people and                                                     be a witness to the glory of the arrival of God

                     It is the most incredible message ever told - that God came into the world as one of us

                                 To live amongst us - face the same challenges that we have to face

                                             It is amazing grace that God loves us so much that he sent His one and only                                            son into the world - to us as a baby

                                                         It is this reason that we have the biggest holiday of the year to                                                                 celebrate - Christ - Mass

If there is anyone tonight that wants to know more about God’s incredible gift to the world

         Wants to know more about Jesus, you can come back anytime

                     You can call us up and set up a meeting to talk

                                 We are here for you and it would be an ever greater joy and privilege to welcome                                   you here beyond tonight

                                             We, like the shepherds, would love to be a witness to the incredible message                                           that God came into the world as a little fragile baby for all of us.

                                                         Amen

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