Christmas Eve - Vulnerable Baby & other Common witnesses
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.