People ask me all the time, “Why does Christmas have to be so busy?” – There is good news and bad news in that answer and it is the same answer: It’s not Christmas – yet. We have until sundown today before the feast begins.
We live in a society that does not like to wait. We are always in a rush to get somewhere, do something or whatever. We are Content with a drive through meal that take 30 to 90 seconds to deliver rather than being patient for 25 minutes and getting the steak and potato. Moreover, we live in a society that must have information on a screen for it to be true – won’t be believed otherwise. This has led to a breakdown in communications not only with each other but also with God. It reduces the ability of Christians because we are not limited to 280 characters of poor English and slang.
Therefore, if there is nothing else that gets said here in this moment let it be only the name of Jesus. He is the visible image of the invisible God. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1.15-20)
And I want to dispel some misinformation about Christmas – it was not taken from the pagans and made a Christian feast. Christmas or the Mass of Christ was celebrated by the Church 50 years before the pagan feasts of Saturnalia began, The pagan feast was started because of the desire to go back to what was in the Empire. The Christian faith was the faith of the Empire and thus the Celebration of Christmas which started some time between the Edict of Milan in 313 and the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 was rampant wherever the Empire was.
The question I want us to consider is a simple one – are you willing to have your Christmas interrupted this year, by this same Jesus? After all it is his day. Christ is Christmas. Will you allow him in and will you make room for him?
The message to Mary was important – her day, her upcoming marriage and her whole life was disrupted. There is always the possibility that Good News must start out and heard as bad news and then must be lived to become Good News. Mary was troubled and afraid when saw heard the Angel and his greeting – What do you mean God has been watching me? What does God want with me?
God had been watching Mary and wanted her to be a part of his plan, his mission to redeem the world. God wanted her to allow her heart and mind, her life to be open to the silliness of the possibilities that he wanted to work in her life. He indicated that he was near her and watching her and would continue to do so – her life had found favour because of the way in which she lived it – towards God and the kingdom.
She is told that she would conceive and give birth to a son who would be in the line of David and would be King over David’s people for ever.
I want you to know that there is a counter point to get us to see how remarkable this woman and her faith was – Zachariah the Priest and his old wife Elizabeth. If you read though the start of Luke’s narratives of the birth you will notice the differences between the old priest and the young woman. Mary was poor, about to be married, with little knowledge compared to a priest. What she did have in Joseph was a good man who like her, believed in God and was willing to listen to God through his dreams, like the Joseph of old.
If you read through the Old Testament, God now and again causes women who had been “barren” or childless to conceive a child – a son. The thing I want to point out to you is that in each case that I can think of, this was to women who were mothers of the ancestors of the line of David and therefore enabled the coming of the Messiah.
Zachariah was older, long married to a faithful wife. But despite his knowledge and experience as a priest, he was not willing to believe that God could do what he wanted to do. He chose to believe that he and the wife were about to wither and die on the vine and there was nothing that could convince him otherwise. Therefore, he spent nine months quiet, unable to speak because he did not believe. It was not until he said that his wife was right and that the boy’s name was his tongue loosed and he praised God for what he was doing.
We look even now for Jesus to come again the purpose of Advent these days and for God to restore things to the way that they were at first – in the Garden. We call for God to come down to fix the broken, to free those who are bound and to find that which has been lost. To deal with the adversaries of the people and the threats that had been made against the people. We want God to come down and sort things out because of the devastations that are happening across the world. We are dirty, despair and naked.
Jesus’ coming to us is about renewing the hope that we place in God for this very thing – to honour the prayer that we pray as churches in this town and across this nation – your kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Don’t be afraid of what is coming – be ready for him when he does. Allow your Christmas to be interruptible that God might make know his favour for you and show you what you are going to be lead to do so see prayer answered that his kingdom will come. Don’t be afraid – Believe. Don’t be fearful – take courage and stand firm on what you believe. Don’t run away – come and participate in what it is that God is doing. In doing so we discover what we believe and even more importantly that God believes in us and is watching and encourage us to keep going and to keep doing.
As we participate in drawing in the kingdom to this world, as we learn to stand and to walk with God, we encounter God more deeply – and in doing so find the courage to do the silly, or even the outrageous (by the world’s standards) thing so that others may come to believe and to participate in God and his mission.
The dynamics of divine grace are such that it is not just for those moments that we need faith and to be great, grace is for life that is lived in between the moments that need to be lived. Miracles will come to the unsuspecting. Restoration will be given to those who are desolate. And blessing will be bestowed on those who believe and participate in what God is doing to redeem this world. We don’t have it all worked out. We must be ready and prepared to follow where the Spirit leads, to say, “Yes, Lord” and to be led in the ways that we need to go. Remember, God’s work, done God’s way, will not lack God’s supply.”
Remember, God is watching you and you are in his favour. Don’t be afraid of what’s happening next – be ready for him who is coming to you.