Summary: This was my Christmas Eve Sermon for 07, looks at various people who were far from home on that first Christmas
Christmas Far From Home Christmas Eve 2007
For most people Christmas is a time to spend with family. We enjoy the social aspect and the re-connecting with one another. There are gifts and cards, emails and Christmas letters and food. Whenever people get together at Christmas there is always food. And pretty darn good food to.
But not everyone can be home at Christmas or with their families at Christmas. When I was in Ghana last March I was talking to the National Superintendant, Joe Ocran, and his wife about some of the cross cultural experiences we had shared. Joe and Jemima had lived in Canada when they were younger and then had returned to their native Ghana to minister eighteen years ago but both of their grown children had ended up moving back to Canada. Being an army brat I moved a lot as a child including three Christmases in Germany, in 1981 I was on a Tug Boat storm stayed in the Canso Canel, Angela and I lived in upstate New York right after I graduated from College and then spent four years in Australia between 90 and 94. And one thing the Ocran’s and I agreed on was with all the benefits that came from being global citizens Christmas was tough away from home.
Not so much for children. I don’t recall when I was a kid in Germany reflecting on how Christmas would be better in Canada. It was different in Germany, but there was lots to do and some really cool traditions that we don’t have here. As a kid it was just Christmas, Santa still came so everything was cool.
In Australia I really enjoyed Christmas, well I enjoyed the sun and the beach and our Christmas BBQ and going for a swim in our pool on Christmas day that was cool. But I missed being close to our families. Even if we didn’t spend Christmas with them somehow the distance seemed greater at Christmas time than any other time of the year. And it was probably the feelings from Christmas 93 that lead us back to Canada in June of 94 to start Cornerstone.
And as I talked to Joe and Jemima I realized that we weren’t the first people to spend Christmas far from home, as a matter of fact on that first Christmas more then 2000 years ago some of the main players were far from home when the drama of Christ’s birth was being played out.
Luke 2:4-5 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.
Mary and Joseph Journey of Obedience
We sing about it in Little Town of Bethlehem and Once in Royal David’s City but do we ever think about it. Presently it’s population is around 22,000 which is three time what it was in 1948 when Israel became a nation and probably 10 times what it was when Jesus was born. It is called the city of David, but everything is relative, cities back then weren’t what they are today. Kind of a pretty city at least today. It was in Bethlehem that Jacob buried Rachel. And it was in Bethlehem that Ruth lived with Boaz. But to most Jews the very name Bethlehem was synonymous with King David. And so it was here in this little town 9 kilometers from Jerusalem that Jesus Christ the son of God was born.
Karen read earlier about the census that was announced where Joseph and Mary had to make the 120 km journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I’m sure that Caesar Augustus thought it was a great idea to conduct the census to get a better handle on potential tax revenues, but he was simply a tool in God’s hand to fulfil a prophecy made hundreds of years before.
Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.
What would it take to get a man to travel five days on foot or perhaps by donkey with his very pregnant wife? How about a decree from the Emperor?
But their journey wasn’t made because they were obedient to Caesar. It was made because they were obedient to God. The news was sprung on both Mary and Joseph, that even though Mary was a virgin she would carry the Son of God. And in both cases they stepped outside the boundaries of common sense and said OK. Luke 1:38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. And in Matthew 1:24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.