Saturday, December 25, 2010

The world begins again.....

Christmas Eve Sermon, 2010 
Our Christmas Eve theme this year was "Come to Bethlehem and See", and our band sang the song "Better Days" at the conclusion of the sermon....I posted that at the bottom.  Merry Christmas Everyone!

Will you pray with me?  Gracious God, on this night of silence, open our ears to the deafening sound of your love in and around us.  Awaken our spirits to the comfort and joy that surrounds us.  Be born in our hearts this night as you were born into the world so many years ago.  Amen.

Grace is a grown woman who grew up in East Africa, on the slopes of Mount Meru where they grow coffee & tea, potatoes, beans and mango fruit.   Grace talks about the rainy season in her hometown being the favorite of all of the seasons because it was the season of joy.  It was the season when all of the hopes for the year to come were determined to succeed or fail.  It was the season when the world seemed to begin anew.
Grace writes, “Now, the rainy season was never, ever guaranteed. It was a matter of waiting for the rainy season, praying for the rainy season, living with our fingers and our hearts crossed that the rainy season would come. And, oh, when it came, when it came these big drops of joy from the sky that came drumming on the tin roof of our school. And they drummed and drummed until they actually drowned the teacher’s voice. The teacher had to give up on the lesson on math or science or English and said, “Today we will just sing and sing and sing! As long as it rains we will sing.” And we would walk to school splashing as we stomped on those puddles of water.  When the rain came, it changed everything. The red soil, the dusty paths all began to turn green with the sprouting millet and sorghum. And suddenly there was this carpet of green around us. When the rain came, everything changed. It became a whole different world.” 
The rainy season was the time when the world would begin again.
The people in Jesus’ time were hoping and praying, crossing their fingers day after day, year after year in hopes that their world would begin again. They were living under occupation; oppressed and desperate.  They were waiting in the driest of times for God to rain on their parched lives.  The prophets of old had told them to hold on.  A savior was coming.  God was sending someone to turn it all around and upside down.  It was like the world was holding its breath in anticipation that someday soon, it would rain.

And then God did something really bizarre.  It happened in a town called Bethlehem where a teenager, pregnant by the Holy Spirit, gave birth to a baby in a backyard boarding house surrounded by animals and hay.  Her very nervous and very new husband was there, pacing back and forth wondering what in the world was happening.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was the opposite of pretty.  It was bloody and messy and smelly – there were no doctors and no sterile instruments.  No soap and water.  No scale to measure precisely how much the baby weighed.  There was no one to take a video or snap a picture and there were no scissors anywhere for someone to cut the chord.  Grandparents were not invited to the birth and the very new and nervous husband had no choice but to “catch the baby” because it was either him or the goat, which didn’t seem to him a viable option.

It was a very bizarre kind of way that the world began again that night.  But the one who began it was excited beyond belief.  So excited, in fact, that he sent angels to spread the word, “Come to Bethlehem and see!” they sang to some ragged guys out in a field.  And then the one who orchestrated this whole night in the first place made the stars dance so they had light to follow.  God threw a party that night – pulled out all of the stops.  He had promised that love would rain down – and that night – it rained cats and dogs… was the rainy season of God’s love. 
It may seem bizarre that God would choose such lowliness – teenagers, shepherds, and farm animals.  It may seem bizarre that God would wrap himself in the arms of one who had never even changed a diaper.  But I think it is pretty great news that God chose a situation so broken and vulnerable.  I think it tells us exactly who God is and how we can expect God to work in our lives.  God doesn’t just come in the joy and the beauty – God comes in all of the messy junk of our lives and says, “I’m here with you.”

Tonight is the night when we celebrate that God saturates the earth, soaks our hearts with love that will not let go. Tonight, just like the people of old, many of us are waiting for the world to begin again.

Tonight, somewhere in the world, a teenager is about to give birth to a baby.  She is scared and vulnerable.  She doesn’t know if she will keep the baby or give someone the best Christmas present ever.  She is waiting for answers.

Tonight, somewhere in the world, a son is coming home after months away.  He is waiting to embrace his mom in the biggest bear hug he’s ever given!

Tonight, somewhere in the world, a great-grandma is alone, counting cards and memories of Christmas past.  She is waiting for a visitor to quench the loneliness.

Tonight, somewhere in the world, children are jumping up and down excited about the candy and the presents – about spending time with cousins and aunts and uncles – excited about life and everything in it.  They are waiting to rip open presents.

Tonight, somewhere in the world, a father is kneeling in a tent in the middle of a war-torn desert.  He is kissing the pictures of each one of his three children and his wife as he says, “Merry Christmas” to each one.  He is waiting to come home.

Tonight, somewhere in the world, a new father is passing out cigars, a child is receiving a new puppy, a daughter is feeding ice-chips to her dying mother, a man is putting flowers on his wife’s grave, a family is celebrating a new job in a new city, a couple is breaking up. 

Tonight – God gathers all of our hopes and fears, all of our joys and sorrows- and God says, “I want to be part of this.  I want to be there with you.”  “Come to Bethlehem and see what I have done.  I’m here.  Wrapped in skin just like yours, with a mom and a dad, with a diaper and a belly button.”

In some way, at some time in our lives, we all need a fresh start, a new beginning.  In the skin-wrapped gift of Jesus, God came to us in the newest way possible.  Tonight, the sound of God’s love raining down drowns out the cries of the world, and we can't help but just sing and sing and sing. 

God rains down love – and the world begins again. Come to Bethlehem and see what God has done.  Tonight a child is born.  Tonight a Son is given.  Tonight is the night the world begins again.



  1. Kris, that was beautiful. It made me cry! Last night in church, I was thinking about Karl being in the hospital away from his family, and for some reason, your sermon made me picture him very clearly. I know whatever is in store for him, God is there, and that beginnings are sometimes synonymous with endings... but... well... yeah. Thank you so much for putting this on your blog. It really blessed me tonight.

  2. Amazing. So good to be reminded that it's not just in joy and righteousness that we can have God's love, but also in our brokenness. The atonement wasn't just for sin, but also for our heartache, our loneliness, our fraility and every vulnerability of living in this fallen world. Thank you for this post. Powerful words indeed.

  3. Kris, my mom doesn't have a google sign in, but she said to tell you the sermon text made her cry. So, consider another reader blessed.