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Luke 2:1-20

1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


Please pray with me tonight, church:

Holy God,

Through the birth of a child,

You show us what Love looks like.

Let that Love be born in us again tonight,

So that we might be Love for the world.



A Christmas unlike any other…

We’ve read and heard that line countless times through the years in advertisements and commercials, and you’ve probably not paid it any mind, right? I mean, you’ve probably read and heard that line this year and thought nothing of it or didn’t even notice it…

But think about the ways that’s really true this year…

A Christmas unlike any other…

Back in January and February this year, you might have already started planning your holiday vacations. The thought that Christmas 2020 would be anything other than perfectly and completely normal didn’t even enter your mind. And even back in March and April, we were talking about a very temporary pinch…shut down for a couple of weeks, this thing goes away, we postpone our Easter celebration by a month or so, but we’re back to business as usual by Memorial Day.

No one…no one……thought that we’d still be doing this 9 months later.

But, here we are…

A Christmas unlike any other…

Much smaller affairs. You’re gathering with your immediate household rather than your whole extended family. Following the guidance of the national and local health officials and infectious disease experts, we’re all FaceTime-ing or Zoom-ing Christmas dinner and unwrapping presents, instead of gathering together all under the same roof this year.

It’s why we’re doing this…(*gesture back and forth to camera*)…virtually this year instead of in-person. Setting the example since our county threat level is at the highest “Red” level right now.

And it just makes me wonder if the imbalance and how off-kilter all of this feels doesn’t help us to understand just a bit more deeply how utterly unusual, and truly, how completely backward and upside-down the Nativity story is.

I wonder if the strangeness and the confusion of everything we’re experiencing in 2020 doesn’t actually help to see a little bit more clearly the whole point of this story that’s so familiar to us and that we hear every year.

Because the truth about this story lies in how unremarkable it all is. This story that we all know so well, is a story about God’s preference for the unassuming, the nobodies, the least, and the ones on the margins. And in that way, this familiar story of the birth of Jesus is just like every other gospel story we know so well.

Cod chooses to be found in an infant, not in royalty. In a back alleyway, not a palace. Visited by animals and their caretakers, not by dignitaries. Born to an unwed teenage mom and tradesperson dad, not the king and queen of some province. Heralded by angels and celestial bodies, not by trumpeting and royal decrees.

This story is about God choosing the completely unexpected to reveal God’s self to a world in desperate need of saving.

And in this way, maybe 2020 is precisely the year to help us understand this.

Maybe this is the year for us to finally understand that giving is so much more rewarding than receiving.

Maybe this is the year for us to finally understand that the least, the lost, the downtrodden, the outcast, the looked-down-upon, and the ones of no account are the ones we should be listening most closely to if we want to know about God’s incredible love.

Maybe this is the year for us to finally understand that the child, God’s gift of love, that draws us together, holds us so much more tightly than all the hatred, vitriol, division, and rhetoric that seeks to drive us further apart.

Maybe this is the year for us to finally understand that how we show up with God’s love speaks so much more loudly than what or who we say God’s love is for.

Maybe this is the year for us to finally understand that the world is indeed weary…full of hopes and fears…and that by showing up as the hands and feet of Christ to serve and love those whom the world seems to have left behind or forgotten is what God hopes for us this year.

Love is born, once again, this night, into a world desperate to receive it. Our job is to not leave that gift lying in the manger, but to carry it and share it with reckless abandon and extravagant abundance. The same abandon and abundance with which God has loved you, o dear child.

There is no more perfect year to share this gift of love.

Our hearts are breaking for it.

Our spirits are longing for it.

Our very souls are aching for it.

This year, more than any other, is when your showing up with love will have monumental effects.

This year, more than any other, is when your showing up with love will have incalculable consequences.

The Light has come once again to illumine the dark places.

This year, more than any other, you carry with you the Light of the World.

And by sharing your light with those around you…those you meet throughout your week, or month, or year…by bringing light to dark places…by caring for others who need to be cared for and loving others who need to be loved…God’s love and God’s dream for the world will grow and become more brilliant than ever.

The light will shine in the darkness.

And the darkness will not overcome it.

Merry Christmas, church.

A Christmas unlike any other…

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