God's surprise interuption of perfect love - 11pm service

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May the words of my mouth and the mediations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you, our Lord and our saviour – Amen

If you were to ask the average person on the street – what are Christians all about?

          Ask people that are not that religious

                   I believe ‘what’ you would hear said – is that Christians are all about Love…

Now I said that I believe this to be true, but the whole truth is that I have know a study that was done and in fact – Love – is what people most people associated with Christians

To this I say – great!

          Not a bad thing to be known for

I am sure that everyone here gathered tonight – would be proud of that reputation – Love

In fact it is a very understandable answer,

It is not as fashionable as it once was, but in many major sporting events – you might see someone in the stands holding up a sign that reads simply – John 3:16

The most known passage in the bible – what some would say ‘in a single verse’ tells the whole story of what Christianity is all about…!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

We Christians are know for our love - because – God did the loving first

This Love is often seen as quietly benevolent – some might even say “passive”

          Where we, Christians, just care and love for others

                   … Sitting on the side-lines – doing nothing – loving others

Is that the story we heard tonight?

          The three scripture readings that told the story of over 2000 years ago?

Was it a story of quiet people in a quiet land – just going about their business and quietly loving others?

No – in fact it is the complete opposite

The story we are given is entirely about God interrupting everything and coming right into ‘the mess of it all’

Consider the characters in the story…

In fact – before we do that, let me expand the characters a little further to include the dominate ‘or should I say dominating’ culture of the day

The Roman Empire ruled all the ordered world – outside of the Empire were the barbarians

The Empire was ruled by an emperor – one that by his role – was defined as a demi-God and Caesar was ‘ruler over all’

Surrounded by the brightest – richest and most powerful people of the day

‘It’ is into this ‘surrounding’ that one might expect to hear news of ‘The’ Lord

In the Roman royal courts that one might expect to hear news of one that was to be the most influencial man ever to live. To be the Lord of all – past, present and future

But this is not where our story is located and the royal Roman court are not the characters in our story

In fact the characters of our story are almost a complete mockery of that – a mockery of what is worldly defined as power and authority

Our story opens with the one of the lowest groups of people of the time – Shepherds

          People ‘living’ in the fields – keeping watch over their flocks by night

They were rough people, people that lived in the land that was inhospitable to any reasonable ‘farming of crops’ – rocky, rough land reduced to growing unharvestable grass that only sheep and goats would feed on

          They keep watch from bandits and wild animals

Then there is a teenage bride and her fiancée – Mary and Joseph

          A couple that is forced to travel far from their home to make a perilous journey

just to be counted by the oppressive roman empire, with what most believe to be a way in which more taxes could be put on them - to oppressed them even further

They were traveling to the town in which Joseph identified as his town, the town of his people – yet treated by the dominating Romans as aliens – non-Romans

It is to these unlikely people that we have God’s greatest interruption

          For ‘all of them’ life is certainly not quiet – life is not a ‘passive, peaceful love-fest’

The shepherds very existence could be define as nomadic near-outcasts

homeless – animal babysitters in a rough unforgiving land

Joseph and Mary – are poor people – with an unexpected, unexplainable baby on the way – set a drift from their home to report to a foreign power’s census

To each of these - Angels appear – messengers from God – come to these lowly people

The first thing that the angels say is - don’t be afraid

          In the midst of the apparent mess of their lives – God interrupts

God interrupts and yet says through the Angels – don’t be afraid

          God knows of their fear, offers comforts right away – don’t be afraid

The message, of course, doesn’t end there – the interruption

- Both to Mary & Joseph and to the shepherds is to tell them of the craziest thing imaginable

God has come – and ‘they’ are to be the witnesses

          Not only that, but God has come in the form of a fragile baby

                   A defenceless baby – God, come into the world - as a baby

Now in the animal world – as we may have all heard the popular saying “it is survival of the fittest” – many animals after a very short time are able to walk or run or are provided with some protection – a shell or like the porcupine – quills

But God comes as a baby human – arguably one of the slowest to develop of all God’s creatures – one needing the most protection and provision for the longest time by parents

          This is how God shares in our lives

To the poor… to the weak… to the socially unlikely… to lowly…

To the outcasts… even in the midst of the animals in the stable, with a ‘bed of a manger’ – a feeding trough

Not to power and authority as we would expect – as the world would expect

God did not come as the Roman Emperor – an already demi-God

          Not to a comfortable palace, with servants to attend to any need

                   God completely mocks ‘any and every’ worldly expectation

God comes ‘in need’ ‘of us’

God’s Love is certainly not passive

Definitely not quiet and peacefully

God interrupts our expectations

God interrupts our plans – messy or ordered

God interrupts our peace and understanding

And comes in fragility – to Love in a way never expected

So if the world associates Christianity with Love –  – thanks be to God

‘Thanks be to God’ for the fullest, most surprising, most unexpected - whole and perfect Love the world has ever seen…

Happy birthday Jesus the Christ - Merry Christmas to all - Amen

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