“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. 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. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 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.” Luke 2:1-7 NRSV
“It’s the hap – happiest time of the year!!”
I’m sure you know that song – be glad that this is print and not a singing telegram that I am singing at you! It’s a month to go before Christmas – decorations have been up in the stores and malls since just after (or just before) Halloween! The weather looks like Christmas and the merchants are beating a steady drum beat trying to pry a few sheckles from your wallet or credit card. There must be someone in your life that you love, and if you love them then you must buy them more stuff! If there isn’t anyone on your shopping list for this year, don’t worry – buy yourself something nice! Surely that 60-inch television is not nearly big enough for an important person like you! Have you seen the 85-inch screen?
It’s the hap – happiest time of the year!! But it’s not really, is it. At least it is not for everyone, not for all of us. For many, this is a season of loss. For some, it is a season of disappointment and worry. For some, it is a season of poverty and lack. For some, this is a season of loneliness and regret. What about these folks?
Friends, I want to share a piece of good news with you this holy day season. Hollywood and Madison Avenue may have forgotten you, you may not fit into any of the brilliant multi-million-dollar commercials we will watch, and your life’s story may not have a Hallmark channel happily ever after ending. If any of these situations are true, GOOD NEWS!!! You, we are the very souls that Jesus came for.
Take a closer look at the real Christmas story. Jesus was not born in a castle or even a shiny sterile white hospital room. No, Jesus was born in a manger – a cattle stall! He was not attended by nurses and doctors, but by sheep and oxen and shepherds. It was scary in that little town of Bethlehem, and there was no room and no fame and there was crying and a struggle and blood and sweat – and there was a baby. His name is Jesus, and he has come to set us free and to walk with us in the hard and dangerous places of our lives.
Perhaps this Christmas your life is not fit for Hollywood or the Hallmark channel. We understand, and so does our savior. Prepare your hearts for the real gift of Christmas friends – Christ our Savior is born! Come and join us for worship this Sunday at 9:00 or 10:30A.M. - we'll save you a seat!is not noted here, and we have no way of knowing, but I can't help but notice that Matthew comes to faith very soon after the Sermon on the Mount of chapters 5,6 and 7. I can't help but wonder if Matthew was in the crowd on that hillside a couple of chapters ago. Perhaps he heard Jesus Rabbinic teaching, and found the teaching transforming and irresistible! That would make sense that days later as Jesus passes by he quickly leaves everything to follow.Take a look with me at a subtle development that usually goes unnoticed in the Gospel of Matthew. We are in chapter 9 - roughly a third of the way through Matthew's Gospel account and someone gets invited to the party! Why, it's Matthew himself!Take a look with me at a subtle development that usually goes unnoticed in the Gospel of Matthew. We are in chapter 9 - roughly a third of the way through Matthew's Gospel account and someone gets invited to the party! Why, it's Matthew himself!It makes me wonder and recreate some of the story in my imagination. I wonder what Matthew's life as a tax collector was like before this day when Jesus invites him to come and follow. Apparently Matthew was a devout Jew -- at least he carefully couches all of his Gospel account in context of the Jewish heritage. In Grace and Peace, Pastor Bill