We begin the wait for Christmas, the coming of Christ, then Christmas comes and we remember that event for 12 days in our Church calendar. Perhaps all we remember of Christmases past is the effort we put into decorating, sharing gifts, preparing big meals, cleaning the house, and then taking it all down and storing it all away for next year. I pray that we all will be intentional about reading the Scriptures very carefully and witnessing how powerful they really are in proclaiming this Jesus, the Christ!
When I read about all the events leading up to Jesus’ birth and the events that occurred soon after, I think, “How could anyone not believe that Jesus is the Christ and that He is the Son of God?”
Come with me and hear again the incredible events and how they changed everyone then and why they should change us today.
Mary is a young teen, maybe even a pre-teen, like middle school. The angel Gabriel speaks to her, “Mary, you are pregnant!” In Catechism, we like to put our students in the shoes of our Biblical characters. Our female students this year gasped and said, “I am in so much trouble!” Yep, and so was Mary. First, Mary replied, “There is no way!” She knew where babies came from. If she was pregnant, and before she was married, she would have been an adulterer and that was punishable by death – by stoning. Yet, when Gabriel explained how this came about by the power of God, Mary not only believed, but accepted the mission with great joy. This was one incredibly brave girl!
Next, Joseph needs to get on board, but he could not on his own. Again, Gabriel pays a visit. Joseph stops all action to “dismiss her quietly”. Now, Mary and Joseph have the same “God Encounter”, God’s messenger, Gabriel. The confidence meter just went higher.
Next, Mary visits her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s fetus does a flip inside and Elizabeth declares that the Savior just walked in. What? Where did this come from? Mary had to be thinking, “Thank you God. It is good to have Elizabeth on the team. Whew!” The confidence meter just went up another notch. By the way, Elizabeth’s baby was John the Baptist. He proclaimed Jesus as God’s son thirty years later.
Then they go to Bethlehem and Jesus is born in a barn. By the way, the barn was not in the Yellow Pages as a publicly recognized hotel. Still, the three wise men from someplace else in the world find him without much trouble. An angel informs them to keep it to themselves as Herod wants to use them for no good. They obey, leave town, and disregard all protocols to the “Big Shot”. Don’t think for a minute they made it into Bethlehem without everyone hearing about it. Folks have been talking about this for 2,000 years. I am sure Mary and Joseph were pretty amazed to have these gentlemen show up and proclaim their knowledge of the son of God’s birth. Wow! The whole world seems to know. Confidence going higher!
Stinky shepherds also get the message about Jesus’ birth from a whole choir of angels. Shepherds are not lazy. The angels said go and see. Usually, you would expect shepherds to say, “Sorry, we need to feed our sheep or we will have a drop in revenues. Can’t go.” But not so! They said, “Cool! Let’s go. NOW!” They show up in Bethlehem and tell Mary and Joseph all about their encounter with God’s angels. Confidence meter has got to be pegging now! But that’s not all. The shepherds tell everyone they see on the way home. They are pumped, excited, and cannot keep this good news in. The news is spreading like wildfire, and we know what wildfire is like. There is no one in this world who has not heard of this child’s birth. That is why we keep talking about it today. There were so many eyewitnesses to Jesus’ birth, and you know about eyewitnesses, right? You can accept or reject what they say, but you will never prove them wrong. And since there were so many eyewitnesses how could anyone in the world not believe.
Oh, and the witnesses go on. Simeon in the Temple in Jerusalem eight days after Jesus’ birth sees Jesus and thanks God that he has seen the Savior. Anna, a prophetess in the Temple, stumbles onto Mary and Joseph and proclaims who this Jesus is. Where does this end? God is informing everyone. The team is greater than anyone can count. The confidence meter is pegging on high!
So, what is the reading on your “Confidence Meter”? Come! Let us hear the witness of all the saints who have gone before us. Listen close to their encounter with God and God’s messengers. Hear how they received the same message in different places and at different times. Then let us be a witness to the world!
Addresses Needed for Parish Directory…Please provide the church office with your adult children’s current address, phone number, and email address. As their Pastor, I need to be able to make contact directly with them. If they are away at college, please provide that address so the Evangelism/Membership Committee can send them Christmas cards this month. These are our current young adult members we are trying to reach out to in order to have discussions about what they would like to see in worship, parish education, etc., to make them excited about coming to church and bringing their friends.
Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board. Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact. We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church. If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.