The Greatest Story Ever Told (Sermon for 12-24-10)

Hi ya’ll. I haven’t been posting any of my writings on this blog because I started a blog just for that but I know I have more readers on this site, so I thought I would share. For some reason, Im really liking where this sermon went so here it goes…my sermon for 12-24-10!

We all know this all familiar story.// Some of us can recite it by memory.// Tonight we listen attentively as the story is read once again too us. But do we see ourselves there?// Do we see ourselves as a character gathered at the manger?//

Now do me a favor; imagine for a moment that you are a part of the story TODAY!//Perhaps Joseph and Mary are emailing each other.// Perhaps Joseph is Map Questing directions for how to travel to Bethlehem.// Maybe Joseph even is buying his donkey from Enterprise Rent-A-Car (or Donkey).// Perhaps Joseph is Twittering and updating his Facebook status as he awaits the birth of his son. Then the minute this precious boy is born; he uploads a picture.// The three wise men are buying their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh off of Now the story definitely looks different in these terms, but the beauty of the story is that the story still evokes all the same emotions and feelings in us!//

Yes, we know the story but the reality is that we don’t always hear the story.// It seems to me that we forget that this story took place and continues to take place for each and every one of us.// God sent God’s son to remind us that the story didn’t just take place for us in a stable in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, but is a story that continues to shape who and whose we are today and always.// In other words, God calls us to be a part of God’s story now and always!//

So tonight I ask you to imagine yourselves as one of the characters gathered around the manger, seeing the one who will bring light, hope, and peace for all the world.// What are you feeling?// What do you see?// Are you surprised by what you are seeing and feeling?// How will you share this amazing good news with the rest of the world?//

Perhaps you are Mary awaiting the birth of this holy child you have been carrying.// Maybe you are Joseph trying to do the right thing after realizing that Mary truly is pregnant by the Holy Spirit after you have been visited by the angel// Perhaps you are a shepherd keeping watch over your flock by night when the angel comes to you and proclaims, “Do not be afraid.// I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:// to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is the Messiah, the Lord.”// Maybe you are the angel bringing this good news to all!// Possibly you are the wise men bringing holy gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to this precious child.// Or maybe you are one of the animals gathered around the manger, not making a noise but simply taking in this precious holy night as God’s Son enters into the world.//

And as God’s Son enters into the world this night, I am reminded of the words of Bismarck Tribune reporter Karen Herzog. Her words remind us that everyone is invited to be a part of this holy story.// She writes, “With the animal body, we are bonded to this world, rather than floating invisibly through it as disembodied vapors. Through the body, the animals of creation-us among them-experience warm and cold and stars and straw, blood and birth.// Christmas carols sense this, and speak to it in their lyrics.// They try to convey that if the Christ Child’s birth was in a place where animals sheltered, that means something. Something important.// It says that living beings, from little barn mice to night-flying owls, nursing ewes and long-eared donkeys, have a place at all the pivotal moments of the earth’s story, from the creation to the incarnation and beyond.// That the one who made us also made them and loves that creation, too.// That no one is too small or too mute to witness miracles or be included in the love that runs the universe.”

No matter what character you are, you are an important essential part of this story.// Without Mary and Joseph, who would be Jesus’ parents?// Without the angels, who would proclaim the good news that the Messiah has been born?// Without the shepherds and wise men, who would come to meet this holy child and bring gifts to him?// And without you and I, how would God’s story continue to be retold again and again?//

The beauty of this Christmas story is that God invites us to share it again and again.// God summons us to really truly hear this story; the one told to us to remind us that it is only the beginning of God’s story unfolding right before our very eyes.// God wants us to move beyond just the words and to truly hear, feel, and experience God’s story taking place as God’s son enters into the world on this peaceful holy night.//

Interim President of Wartburg Seminary David Tiede on his commentary on Luke’s Gospel writes, “Luke’s Christmas Gospel invites treasuring the
words, awe at the splendor of God’s faithfulness and wonder about where it
will lead for ‘all the world.’// The gentle truth invites all who see and hear to return for Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost.// God’s drama is just beginning to unfold.”// In other words, the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth is only just the beginning of the greatest story ever told.// In fact, it seems to me that the best parts of the story are yet to come!//

The Christmas story also reminds all of us who God is and always will be!//
God continues to call and claim us as God’s children. Through the waters of Baptism, God promises that God will never leave us or forsake us.// God will come again and God’s power will have the final victory.//

And because God will have the final victory, it is important for us to remember that this story; this familiar story that we hear tonight is not just the beginning of God’s story, but the beginning of our stories as well.// God will always bring light in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of fear and will be the one who always walks with us.// In the words of Luther Seminary Professor David Lose, “Perhaps it should be that this story of long ago is not only about angels and shepherds, a mother and her newborn.// It is also about us, all of us gathered amid the candles and readings, carols and prayers.// God came at Christmas for us, that we might have hope and courage amid the dark and dangerous times of our lives.// This, in the end, is why we gather, so that as God entered into time and history so long through the Word made flesh, God might also enter our lives even now through the word proclaimed in Scripture, song and sermon.”//

God’s story is offered for all to hear this night.// Go out proclaiming that the Messiah has come for all God’s people.// Go out and share this all familiar story with your friends and neighbors!// Go out, not just hearing the story but proclaiming and living the story as if you are one of the characters gathered around the manger this night proclaiming loudly, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.”