Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sermon; Christmas Eve 2014; Luke 2:1-20

“Do not be afraid,” said the angel Gabriel to Zechariah at the Annunciation of John the Baptist when he was told God was doing something new.

“Do not be afraid,” said the angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation of Jesus when she was told God would be with her.

“Do not be afraid,” said the angel Gabriel to the shepherds in the fields at the annunciation of Jesus' birth and letting them know that God was with them.

I have a friend.  He needs an angel.  “Do not be afraid.  God will be with you and your child is holy.”

He and I went to seminary together and we were described as twins by different mothers separated at birth.  While at a party one evening, my daughter thought it would be a particularly good time to ask his long-time girlfriend, “When are you two getting married?”  Three months after graduation, they were married.

A few weeks ago they announced that they were expecting their first baby.  He will be 45 next month.

He spent a whole day on his Facebook page saying, “Huzzah!  We're having a baby!  Oh no . . . we're having a baby.  Huzzah!  We're having a baby!  Oh no . . . we're having a baby.”

The man needs an angel to tell him, “Do not be afraid.”

For those of us who have had children, either literally or as part of a team, babies are scary things.  They change your life like nothing else.  Your purchasing focus changes.  Your willingness to eat pickled peanut butter ice cream increases.  When you think about accessorizing your wardrobe, diaper bags and burp rags rise to the top of the list.

Babies demand all our attention and, it seems, resources.  We are constantly buying diapers (or we pay for a diaper service because . . . really).  Food bills increase.  Water and electricity bills increase.  You need to not forget it somewhere because you aren't used to having to tote one around.  And please, PLEASE, for those of you who may have your first baby at some point in the future, don't ever put the baby on top of the car when you load your groceries.  Remember . . . baby first, then groceries.  And they aren't like cats – you can't leave them alone with a bowl of food for a few days.

Babies terrify us.  What if we drop it?  What if we misplace it?  What if we can't get it to stop crying?  What if it stops breathing?  What if, what if, what if?

Do not be afraid.  God will be with you.  God is with us.

But I think we are afraid.  I think we are afraid to ponder the implications of the almighty and eternal God humbling himself to the extreme, being born a helpless, dependent baby.  I think we are afraid to admit that this newly born God-child needs us and relies on us to survive just as much as our own children need us and rely on us.

I think we are afraid that we are more like the innkeepers of Bethlehem than we care to admit.  When writing about the birth of Jesus, St. Jerome said, “The entire human race had a place, and the Lord had none.”  We have room in our lives for jobs, hobbies, TV, movies and daily coffee runs, among other things, but how much room do we make for God?

We are the innkeepers of our lives, and we decide who and what can enter.  Joseph, Mary and Jesus are looking for a place to stay, do not be afraid to make room for them.

Do not be afraid – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.

Besides the fact that babies terrify us, babies also bring us great joy.  Think about a baby's smile.  Or better yet, think about going to youtube and searching for 'laughing babies'.  You can't help but smile or laugh at the thought because it is a moment of pure joy.  Other times can also offer joy – their first halting steps, the first time they think something is funny, the faces they make, their first mirror and their first words.

And when we think about these things, think about our participation in them.  We stick out our tongues.  We make silly noises.  We make googly words.  We laugh, we smile and we flirt.  We help make those moments joyful.

Do not be afraid to see Jesus as an infant.  Do not be afraid to exhibit that much joy.

Do not be afraid.

Zechariah and Elizabeth eventually got over their fears and welcomed with great joy what God was doing in their life.

Mary overcame her fears and agreed to take an active role in the mission of God.

The shepherds overcame their fears and went to visit the newborn Messiah at the request of the angel.

My friend will eventually overcome his fears and, with joyful abandon, welcome his new son into this world and his life.

And what about you?  Are you afraid of God doing something new?  Are you afraid of God being with you?  Are you afraid of seeing God as dependent on you?  Are you afraid to let God in?

This is Christmas, when a holy child is born and an angelic host gives tidings of good news and great joy.

This is Christmas.  Do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid to ponder the implications of the eternal God allowing himself to be born in a manger.  Do not be afraid to think that God relies on you.  Do not be afraid to open up your life to Christ and give him a place to stay.  Do not be afraid to see God doing something new.  Do not be afraid to live with great joy.

This is Christmas when we receive the greatest gift God could give us.  This is Christmas when we celebrate with joy the good news of God with us.  This is Christmas.  Do not be afraid.

And more importantly, do not be afraid to re-gift what God has given you.


First time comments will be moderated.