Summary: A Christmas Presence for Baby Jesus.
For the next 4 Sundays we are going to be spending our time preparing for Christmas by becoming familiar with those people God invited to be at his son’s birth. When God decided the time was right, he birthed his son in the flesh to be Immanuel - "God with us" and when he did he sent out some Birth announcements - because God wanted and desired.
Particular types of people to be the first to see the Christ-child.
But unlike the typical recipients of such announcements -
Neighbors and friends
God invited and encouraged a Wild Card Prophet, some Star-loving spiritually sensitive Magi, some dirty-night shift working shepherds and a humble quiet girl named Mary.
As I began to plan out these next 4 weeks about 6 weeks ago - the fact that God notified,
John the Baptist
The Magi or Wise Men
And Mary to be present when Jesus became flesh began to cause my mind to turn.
Would I have invited such a cast to the Skagit Valley Hospital Maternity Ward? "Hey Deb - now that you’ve just spent 6 hours birthing Luke, Ben and Emma - I rounded up some people to come and see our newborn child."
Deb - this camel hair wearing, locust and honey eating man is John the Baptist.
And Honey - the robed wearing, jewel encrusted men whose camels you hear outside are wise men - we need some wisdom right now.
Sweet Pea - stick with me now. There are some shepherds in the hallway that I’ve invited. Once you get past their looks and their smell - you’ll be glad they’re here.
And my love - "I also have a teenaged girl in the hallway Mary - I wanted her to see our child."
If these 4 people or groups of people would have joined our celebrations at the hospital having been invited by me - you can be sure that I would have heard about it from Deb and our anxious grandparents.
When you think about.
As you imagine your own nativity scene at home isn’t it odd that these people were not just present but invited and pursued by our God to be the first to see his Son.
God was intentional in getting the news to them.
God was selective in who heard and how they heard.
Had a plan.
Had a reason for these people.
To be present at the birth of his son Jesus.
Some of you right now are wanting to correct me on my Bible right now but I realize that John the Baptist wasn’t in Bethlehem at the birthing of Christ - I’m not trying to write that into our Bibles, but I have chosen to clump him in with the Wise Men
Mary because he was the first one to confirm to both his mom Elizabeth and to Mary that the baby within her was indeed as Gabriel said.
John in a sense was awaiting and affirmed the birth of Jesus just as the other 3 did.
These 4 - John
And Mary along with some others formed a community of people.
A Christmas community or as our 4 week message series is called - A Christmas Presence for the baby Jesus.
They were a presence.
A group of adoring eyes.
A group of loving hearts and receptive hands to the miracle of the Christ-child being given to us.
They were a presence and each of them in their own unique way brought to the baby Jesus a gift/a present. This is what we will be exploring together in the weeks to come.
As I have had time to ponder each of these people present in Bethlehem, I believe they can represent something inside of each of us.
We’d like to tell people how it is.
There’s a lot of John in many of us.
Most of us here have a wild card side.
Most of here - would call ourselves religious or spiritual and see our faith as a long journey - following God’s lead - like the Wise Men.
Each of us here - have felt at time like we don’t really belong here. We can identify with the Shepherds. We’ve stayed away from here perhaps because we felt like we weren’t
Or loving enough.
We have been so full of shame over
Cussing out our spouse
Or cheating on our taxes that we feel like we aren’t worthy to be invited. Any shepherds here?
And every once in a while we may feel like a Mary - completely caught off guard by our God who has communicated to us that we are favored
Loved very dearly.
It is my belief that the 4 - that God himself invited to be the Christmas Presence for his son Jesus are alive and well within each of us and so like them I invite you to journey with them to Bethlehem - You’ve been invited. You as you are. No matter your beliefs, behavior, past, present, no matter what - you are invited. But also I want to tell you right now so are your friends.