Summary: New life brings with it new expectations
Luke 2:1-14 “Expectations”
The birth of a child brings with it dreams, hopes and expectations. There’s something about gazing upon that squirming bundle of life. A person sees a future with a full, unencumbered life. The sky is the limit. Anything is possible.
As we gather around the manger and view the Christ child, we see new life and the hope of things to come. We too are amazed at all that has happened that night—the birth, the appearance of the angels and the arrival of the shepherds. We, also, wonder what will happen as Jesus breaks into our world today, like he did two thousand years ago.
There is a popular song, “Mary Did You Know?” The song writer wonders if Mary knew the path that Jesus’ life would take. After all, she had the visit from the angel. But, I think that Mary didn’t have a clue what was in store for her son, Jesus. Like all of us, her knowledge and understanding grew as she watched her son’s life unfold.
A GOD OF RELATIONSHIPS
God the creator and our father (or parent) longed to reestablish a relationship with his children. Like rebellious sons and daughters, we had wandered far from home—thinking like all young people do that our parents were dumb and we knew it all. When we didn’t come home, our Father came looking for us.
Jesus dwelt among us. He showed us what it was like to live in a relationship with God. Jesus challenged our priorities in life clearly stated that relationships—especially our relationship with our God—is significantly more important than our striving for importance and our accumulation of things.
The writer of the gospel of John records that when Jesus dwelt among us, that many did not accept him. They turned a deaf ear to him; and ignored him. But, Jesus didn’t go away. Even though Jesus has ascended, he is present with us still in the person of the Holy Spirit. And, Jesus has promised that absolutely nothing in all of creation is able to separate us from the love of God and the presence of Jesus.
A GOD OF LOVE
It was commonly assumed that God was a vengeful God. He was a God who punished his children and destroyed nations that opposed him. People did awful things in God’s name. They sought to hurt or kill others. They justified their hate of strangers and those who were different.
Jesus came and showed us a different facet of God. Jesus clearly showed that God was a God of love. In a time of tyranny, Jesus demonstrated that true power was not in military might but was contained in the power of love. Jesus lovingly provided for needs, and healed both minds and bodies. Jesus loved us so much that he suffered and died for us. There is no greater love than this.
The early Christians got the message of love. When others saw them they exclaimed, “See how they love one another.” Often the church has forgotten this core teaching of the Christian faith. We have judged, criticized, and condemned. We have selfishly served ourselves rather than others. This doesn’t negate that God is a God of love. It simply reminds us of our need for confession and repentance.
AN INCLUSIVE GOD
Jesus was constantly demonstrating that God accepted and loved all people. Jesus reached out to the outcasts of society—the tax collectors and sinners. He touched the lepers, bleeding women and even corpses—declaring that nothing and no one was unclean.
The Jews thought they were God’s people and the apple of God’s eye. They looked down on others. They drew a circle around themselves and said “We’re in and you’re out.” Jesus came and erased the circles. He declared that everyone one was a child of God—no exceptions.
Though we sometimes forget Jesus’ message and the fact that God is an all-inclusive God, that doesn’t negate the truth. We may separate and designate that certain individuals and groups are outside the scope of God’s love. When we do, it seems that God goes out of his way to prove us wrong.
Did Mary know? I don’t think so. Neither did the shepherds, the wise men, or even the prophets. Though we know that God is a God of relationships, love and inclusion, our expectations are probably inaccurate, also, as we walk with this child who grew up to be Jesus, the one who said, “Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”