2006 Christmas Day Sermon

Christmas is a historical event and a story that showed unquestionable courage to a world that is scared of everyone around to everything beyond and a story of faithfulness towards a world without a savior.

It is a story of courage because everyone involved in it had to step into darkness to bring to fulfillment a promise that was made out of love for humanity. It is a story of hope because those who made the promise kept the promise teaching us promises are to be made and kept in life for the worlds Savior to be born today.

Christmas is a story of courageous stepping into a world of uncertainties to keep the promises one make. It is a story for every person who sometime or another makes a promise, and works towards keeping it. It is also a story that gives hope for everyone in darkness and fear.

Looking deeper we find, those who involved in it needed lots of courage to make it happen when it happened two thousand years ago. Here is a small quote from Max Lucado forwarded to me by Bette Ann a few days ago.

God the father:

It all happened in a most remarkable moment….a moment like no other. God became a man. Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. The omnipotent in one instant became flesh and blood. The one larger than the universe became a microscopic embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God had come near. (Max Lucado)

How many of us are willing to give our precious child to a young girl who is 13 to take care of for life? How many of us can let go our precious possession, our flesh and blood to be taken care by a day care worker who is not mature to think for herself? It required courage from the part of God the father to trust humanity, trust this young woman to do a good job. God said to himself, "Do not be afraid. They are created in my own image and likeness"

God the Son

All of us have heard stories of alien abduction. Or at least people who are scared of alien abduction. Whether it is real or not, some are scared of it. What are we most scared of being abducted by an alien? We are frightened because there is nothing in common between me and a Martian who abducted me. I don’t know if I can talk, eat, breath and on and on. It is a fear of not knowing what is common to both that scares most.

Jesus came into an alien world. Yes of course we are created by God. But we don’t have all the qualities and nature of God. So, Christ being fully God and fully human, needed an enormous courage to say Yes to the father to be cared by an Alien, and be born to a young one.

How would you like to be cared by an alien? How would you feel if a Martian took care of you and brought you up? I am sure you will learn the language, adjust to the culture, understand the nature and on and on. But intrinsically it is a hard struggle. But for Christ, yes it was his nature to be human, except in sin. And we got that plenty around us. So adjusting to a world with sin, for someone without sin, required a lot of grace and courage if it was a willful choice. It required a lot of compassion towards us. Interestingly compassion is a result of courage one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

God the Holy Spirit

Some of my friends have a favorite sentence that they use in their email communications with me. "Come Holy Spirit". You know what happens when we invite the holy spirit? Someone is going to get pregnant: Pregnant with Christ. There is going to be a birth. There is going to be a new born. There is going to be a savior in this world. If you are not serious about it, don’t call on the Holy Spirit. Every call on the Holy Spirit will and should bring Christ alive through you over and over again.

There is a big work cut out for the Holy Spirit. He or she has to get into this creative mode again with an immature, young woman. If you are an artist, musician, or let us say anything for that matter if you have an experience in what you do and the one you are working with does not, it can drive you nuts.

This is why we have our bosses. They think they know it and they think we are not yet there. So, working with a person who is still in the process of maturation can be challenging. To be sane, to be non-judgmental and caring at the same time requires a lot of patience. To bring out the savior through an immature, frivolous person can be challenging. Who can venture into that area except with the grace of courage? Creativity or Creative process is a courageous stepping into claiming our lineage with God.

Mary from Nazareth

Mary was a young 13 year old! She was a baby herself. How could she have had the knowledge, wisdom, and maturity to bring a child, a God-Child, into this world? Yes, if you are an immature, promiscuous and playful person for the sake of fun getting pregnant is one thing. However according to her culture, if found pregnant before marriage, the punishment is death by stoning. She knew it and she has seen many such things happening around her.

What would you feel if an angel appeared to you tonight and said the same? Had I lived in that culture I think I would jump out of my skin before I have a chance to think about it. Fear will overcome you, I would think, if you knew what would happen to you.

God’s grace was plenty then and is now. God’s grace was sufficient for Mary to say "yes" to the angel. It was a courageous step for Mary.

Letting Holy Spirit bring forth a Savior today through us is how we are letting Mary’s response of "ecce ancilla Domini fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" (I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word) become part of our heritage.

She was told, "Do not be afraid Mary"

Joseph from Nazareth

Talk about being an introvert and a quite person. Joseph was a good, silent, sweet person according to writers of the bible. He had a dream and there he heard the girl he loves is pregnant! In the same dream he also heard it is not his, but of God! He must be nuts to believe it. He certainly was overcome with fear for what is going to happen to Mary, whom he really loved, but did not sleep with.

If you are a man you know what woman would if you talk of dreams all day long. It is not easy for a man to ask for directions. He will drive and drive until he gets lost. Talk to him about dreams. He would be thinking about super bowl behind the back. Bring to him a romantic comedy? You might catch him asleep half way through. This is man. Nothing bad about it. So, to behave other way around, requires courage. A lot of it. Specially if you have someone around you who talks a lot about dreams.

By letting dreams and visions, inspirations and intuitions talk to us, we are letting the mystery that shrouded Christ’s Birth relive through us again. Allow your dreams and listen to your intuitions. Many times our hearts are blessed with divine knowledge if only we can be STILL.

He was told "Do not be afraid Joseph" And so he heard.

Shepherds in the field

Let us think about the poor shepherds in the field. I will jump out of my skin if in the middle of the night a group of "ghosts" (Spirits) appear to me and sings, and even if they offer me a chocolate cake. Besides shepherds are kind of outcasts in the society. They don’t live in societies. They lived in the fields with their sheep, may be with others of the same kind. No one of importance paid a visit to them.

Now the angels come and say that the King of the world is here and they got to hear it first. When you are downtrodden, when in society you are considered an outcast, hearing such news first, won’t be that of excitement, but rather fear. For they are already terrorized by the existing leaders, and here comes another one. So, the angels said,

"Do not be afraid. Don’t be afraid of us being here. Don’t be afraid of the news we are going to say. Don’t be afraid of anything around and beyond."

Where will you find your king? In a manger! It is hard to believe, but their courage brought them to the manger to find the greatest of all kings in the world.

All these basically points to one thing i.e.,The message of Christmas is a message of courage. Christmas is a season for courageous actions and fulfillment of promises. It is an invitation to walk away from fear. Fear of anything in this world.

We live in a world of terror and fear.

Fear of Terrorists,

Fear of Wars

Fear of Famine

Fear of hunger

Fear of poverty

Fear of neighbors

Fear of races, cultures, sexes, orientations, differences.

We live in a world of broken promises and unfaithful relationship. So, Christmas is a season that should remind us of the courage God himself required and the rest of the ‘clan’ needed for the savior to be born.

Let us also be reminded that if not for God’s faithfulness in keeping promises we will be still part of the dust of the earth without a hope for resurrection. Let this awareness make us courageously keep our promises in life.

Merry Christmas.

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