The Grace of God has Appeared


December 24, 2017 Christmas Eve

Luke 2:1-20, Titus 2:11-14

Birth is messy!

For those of you that have had children, you will know what I mean. Of course, you have the literal mess from the birth itself. There is also the mess that comes with the total reorganization of lives that have been completely changed by the birth of a newborn baby. Even with multiple children, there is an adjustment that must take place and varies in time for everyone.

In this messiness, we find ourselves living into the uncomfortable. Something that we are not quite acquainted with and at times scares us half to death. This messiness redirects us and we may even get buried and lost in the middle of it all. And as we all know, as we are able to get the messiness tidied up in one area of our lives, it rears itself in another part of our lives. This is a reflection of the broken world that we live.

This broken world was in existence over two thousand years ago when Mary and Joseph made their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Now talk about messiness!

Their story is one that is so messy that our stories could pale in comparison. Many of you, by memory, could walk through the birth story that has been retold in the gospel of Luke. It is a story that we hear every Christmas and a part of the essential foundations in our faith as Christians.

They too found that they had to reorganize their lives. A reorganization that would forever change the face of the world and that would lead billions of people to follow a new born baby. It was not convenient though. It never is when an unwed teenager discovers that she is pregnant. Not to mention the fact, that the angel Gabriel tells her that it is the Holy Spirit that comes to her and she will give birth to the Son of God. This turns Joseph’s and her life upside down. After some discernment and a lot of trust in the Lord, they find themselves in Bethlehem looking for a place to stay and Mary to give birth.

The messiness of a stable, surrounded by animals. Not the royal palace that we would assume the Son of God to be born. And he is placed in a manger. A feed trough that the animals were probably recently eating out of until they needed a place to lay baby Jesus.

It is here that we find Jesus in the most unlikely of places! Not the first place that we would have looked, but probably one of the last.

Thank goodness for the angels that came to the shepherds in the field bearing good news and directions to where Jesus had been laid in the manger. In their own messiness, the shepherds are the first ones to come and visit the newborn king. It is in their simplicity and awe that they come to the manger and share the prophecy that has been told to them through the angels. A prophecy that fulfills the prophecies of the Hebrews and one that brings hope to a world that is desperately in need of hope. The shepherds then go out “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” Being the first to bear witness to Jesus in this world.

It is in the letter to Titus that the author proclaims, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.”

What a word of hope that still resounds true for us today!

In the midst of our messiness, the grace of God has appeared!

In the midst of our broken world, the grace of God has appeared!

In the midst of our divisions and fighting, the grace of God has appeared!

It is in this grace of God that we are reminded that Jesus has come to us swaddled in the great love God has for all creation. A love that begins and ends with God. A love that can be found within each one of us as we open our hearts up to the incarnation of Jesus in this world. A birth that brings good news to a world that aches for any bit of good news that it can receive. We are now called to glorify and praise God. Proclaiming this good news for all to hear. God was, is, and will be with us for all eternity. Merry Christmas!

Let us pray, Wonderful Counselor, we give thanks for the news that the shepherds proclaimed as they left the manger. We pray that as we enter into this season of Christmas and into the new year that we be bold enough to testify to this same message. Amen.

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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