Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Today’s text

Luke 2:1-7

Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world. This census--the first--took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria,
and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. So Jospeh set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judea, to David's town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space.


What difference does it make if Christ is born at Bethlehem, if he is not born also in me?

My Mexican friends have a wonderful tradition at Christmas, Las Posadas. It is play, a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph arriving at Bethlehem and knocking on doors, seeking a place where they may enter and stay that the Christ might be born in warmth and safety.

But each place they go the door is locked or harsh voices refuse to open and let them in. So they continue on their way, lonely hearts seeking shelter, until someone opens the door and welcomes them that Mary might give birth to the God-child who brings the blessing of God to earth.

The tradition follows the pattern of Joseph and Mary coming to Bethlehem and being refused hospitality until someone gives them shelter in a stable where Christ is born.

But it holds deeper meaning. It is a parable of the heart of God hungry to born in this world, longing to be born in human hearts and mortal flesh that the world might be blessed, forgiven and made warmed by the light of the world shining in a human life.

We come to this night hungry for something to happen, eager to feel something. 

Like Charlie Brown in the 1960s cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas, we want to know Christmas as more than something to believe in. We want to feel it happening in us. We want to feel Christmas happening in our all-too-human lives that we might know the love that came in the Christ, born in a Bethlehem manger long ago.

We want to taste and touch Christmas now. We want to feel Christ not out there somewhere, not way back in time, but deep within, making us feel fresh and new, washed and clean, hope-filled and love adorned.

But much as we might want this there is One who wants it more. This is the message of Christmas.

The Love who was born in Bethlehem is a lonely and constant hunter, who goes from door to door, knocking and being refused, again and again, until someone gives him entry, until he can be born again in human flesh and shine grace and beauty on our troubled world.

He stands at the door … and knocks.

But we live in a time of no room, when everyone is obsessed with the lack of time and space for matters of heart and meaning.

There is no room for quiet, no room for solitude, no room for thought, no room for awareness of what we most need, no time to notice what waits in our hearts, ready and eager to be born.

Little wonder so many feel so alone or wonder who they are and what they need.

But the Love who shines from the manger in Bethlehem refuses to go away. He stands and knocks …on your door. His voice is always there.

“I hunger to be born again in you, to fill you with the light and love of the eternal God.

“Look at how far I have searched. I come from the wonders of eternal heaven in dimensions beyond all your science. I come in humility to a manger of poverty to be laid in straw that you may know my heart. I come that you may know … there is no place from which I turn, no soul so dark or troubled which I refuse.

“Even these, even you … are a proper home for me to be born and live.

“I come to this world hunting and hungry for a home for the Love I am. I seek to fill all creation, one end to the other, with the beauty of my presence.

“I come that my holy image may be seen in every place and creature, every life, every land.

“I come to mangers in the dark of night, to the arms of Mary in her poverty and shame, to silent Joseph wondering what will come next, and I come to you, to the dark inner-center of your heart, that place only love can touch.

I come to be born in you, to fill you with the light and the warmth of an everlasting love that you may shine with the glory of God, just like the child in Mary’s arms.

I come that you may know … Christmas is not a long ago event, but a miracle that happens every moment, every time Christ is born in us again with great joy and endless love.

Merry Christmas, my brothers and sisters. Merry Christmas.

Pr. David L. Miller

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