HE Didn’t Come Out of a Box!

And, lo the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid.” 

But, friends in that moment …. Things dramatically changed.  In a twinkling of a star moment love of a child became real … love of the God of creation was established again and it was established to and for working men without any power nor riches just was it was established for every person as the angel said to them:

FEAR NOT for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy; which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, which is CHRIST THE LORD!  And, this shall be a sign to you … ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothing lying in a manger.”

And, suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying GLORY TO GOD in the HIGHEST and on earth PEACE, GOOD WILL toward men!”

Merry Christmas Church … have you experienced the moment of Jesus when you have discovered God’s love that has brought you peace and joy and hope?   Have you given yourself the opportunity to understand that there is a God … that there is much more to life and to reality than your latest social media posts or the posts of famous people … that God’s intent and God’s love are designed to take us from the manger to the open tomb because the true gift of God wasn’t the innocence of the babe whose homeless mother gave birth in dirty poor quarters whose family then escaped as refugees to Egypt to escape Herod’s violent response to the birth.

No my friends … God’s gift this Christmas season is to give us the chance to pause … to pause in the moment and rediscover God’s love through the innocence of a baby …. Through the discovery of hard working men working in the fields  … through the angel’s GLORIA’s.  Are you ready this Christmas to pause and find Jesus?

The challenge this evening for each of us is to find the time to take the moment and reconnect with the Creator of all … the God whose presence brought about everything that exists … a God who we casually dismiss with frequency because in today’s world we want to be able to GOOGLE everything and get a complete answer from Wikipedia and if we can’t find the answer online we are just too busy to put the pieces together ourselves.  We need proof just like Thomas and all too many are missing out on Jesus because its so convenient to do so.

Tonight friends is about a love story … as Linus says in A Charlie Brown’s Christmas it is the awe and discovery of Jesus that provides the truth of Christmas … the meaning of Christmas.  As much as I love the glitter and the lights … as much as I love the tradition and obviously love the cookies … our molding of Christmas into a season of getting what we want has taken us away from what we need.   Even in the midst of the manger we find discarded wrapping paper to toss away.  We seek the glitter and miss the message.

So, pause tonight with me and consider love in the moment.

Have you ever been loved by a child instantly and unconditionally?  Where you truly sensed the love … knew that a child loved you for you.  Just because you are you?  Yesterday I felt it … my niece and her family were up from Florida.  We have only seen their boys on a couple of occasions and perhaps I have seen them less than the rest of my family.

But yesterday … their youngest child Owen knew I was his uncle Dave and that we needed to establish love.  It was magical … it was wonderful … Owen wanted to be in my arms and at 4 years of age these arms were sore and tired.  But what made Owen become my Christmas message as we walked the streets of our nation’s capital is that Owen very deliberately and intentionally kept repeating UNCLE DAVE … UNCLE DAVE and he held my neck tighter.  Friends … I felt the love … those were moments I will never lose … a connection that was clear and concise and real.

Have you ever had a child who showed his or her love for you through their looks?  Their touch?  Their words?  I sure hope you have … moments; moments we all need.  Moments in love that are so essential.   I think we all would pause in our life to accept and receive a love moment from a child.

So, tonight on Christmas are you willing and ready to accept the love from a child who became a man named Jesus.   A gift from the Creator God … a gift to ALL HUMANITY not just those who are in church tonight …. A gift to the globe’s humanity because God does not have borders God only has love.   Are you ready … are you willing to take a moment tonight but more importantly a moment tomorrow and the next day and the next because you see that child in the manger we each need to be connected with Him for all the days of our lives not just Christmas Eve.

That babe that we sing O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL and JOY TO THE WORLD for and  to … that child is whispering your name if you listen.   Jesus Christ is calling my name and yours but it’s not a baby who we need to pay attention to.   It’s the man who walked this earth.  SILENT NIGHT HOLY NIGHT ALL IS CALM … are you willing to give up some moments to get that holy all the time?

THE JESUS of the Jericho Road … sharing the story of the Good Samaritan not for entertainment but for us to discover in the moment that God is telling us to love our neighbors.   You see … the celebration of Christmas gets focused on our families … and the babe and the shepherds and we even bring the wisemen into the story earlier than they really arrived but as Christians the season of Advent and the celebration of Christmas is our opportunity to once again find a beginning for our faith walk … a beginning that starts with our accepting the fact that God loves you and me and them.  Yes, he really loves them.

But for you … and for me … the challenge in this 21st Century world is to put aside the world and open ourselves up for a faith experience built upon love.   Religion has created so many controversies and I am sure we can each name many.   All too many people can tell you about the bad experiences they have had with people tied to religion but the truth is God didn’t create religion God just demonstrated awesome love.   And, God calls us to be faithful to God … accepting Jesus as our Savior and being open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

In the lyrics of Trans Siberian Orchestra’s BELIEVE, Paul On’Neill wrote how Jesus is THE WAY, THE LIGHT … and that He hears our hopes and feels our dreams and even hears our screams.   But O’Neill in this song of faith adds the plea “Don’t turn away … just take my hand and Jesus will be there and never leave.”  But, there’s a slight requirement and it’s not tangible … it’s from our hearts … it’s like that child loving us intensely for no reason other than love.  WE MUST BELIEVE … not just in name but in changing who we are.  We must believe without condition.

Tonight, if you and I accept that Jesus didn’t come out of a pretty wrapped box but that God had Mary deliver Him into a tough situation and He lived a life walking with the outcasts and teaching the powerful how to correct their ways… if you and I understand that the Jesus we need is the Jesus as you heard about in tonight’s reading of the Easter story’s morning … we need the Jesus who is our Risen Savior who left the tomb behind.

The Christmas Gift is truly the Easter experience.   The babe who was born in the manger in Bethlehem became the teacher who brings us the lessons God wants us to put into practice in our lives.  The words are there … in four short books called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Jesus ultimately became the Savior taking our shortcomings, our failures, our sins to the cross but he arose on EASTER morning for our sake … out of love in the moment so that our moments of live and of everlasting life could have hope and possibility.

The women who brought the Gospel message of the risen Savior to the world were told by Jesus DO NOT BE AFRAID … Paul O’Neill’s song says “Don’t Turn Away … I’ll be there … And, all I ask is BELIEVE.”

Friends … if you haven’t already accepted God’s great gift … then perhaps tonight is the night when love fills your heart and you sense God’s love amidst this crazy world.  Jesus came for you … Jesus came for me … the call of the Christmas season is to rediscover our faith … to again take on Jesus in a loving relationship.

We each have our moments in our control but tonight as you sing Silent Night and Joy to the World pause to sense that the Creator is calling your name and mine … to once again BELIEVE.”


© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ