Summary: A sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas
1st Sun. after Christmas
"Left - Overs"
"An Indian chief was disturbed about how lazy his braves had been during the hunting season, so he called all the tribe together and announced, "I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that, because you have been lazy and done little hunting this season, all we have to eat all winter long is clay from the riverbank. The good news is that there is an ample amount of clay to keep us going until next year."
Isn’t that life?? Good news and bad news seem to come together. I have some good news for you today, Christmas is over, you can relax, take it easy, the food is all baked, the tree is all decorated, the presents are all unwrapped, the holiday is finished. The bad news is, the clean up job remains. The Christmas decorations need to be put away, the trees undecorated, the either put back in the box, or hauled outside. There are piles of wrapping paper to put away and throw away, there are those added pounds to be lost, because you had such good food during these holidays. The bad news continues when you think of the gifts that have to be returned, because they didn’t fit right, or weren’t the exact color, and more bad news comes when you find that even though you were trying to be careful, you somehow over-spent and now you wonder how you are going to pay for all that good news.
These leftovers items are also part of the holiday, also part of the Christmas season, also part of our celebration. Somehow the leftovers seem to be an anticlimax to the Christmas celebration. Somehow these things cleaning, loosing weight, taking things back, putting things away, don’t seem to fit in just right with that Christmas Spirit. Somehow these leftovers just don’t feel right with the glitter, the excitement, the wonder, the awe, the majesty and the beauty of Christmas.
But, I would venture to say, these leftovers do go hand in hand with the Christmas spirit, these leftovers are part and parcel with Christmas.
These leftovers have as much to do with Christmas, as the event itself, because Christmas just doesn’t end after Dec. 25th, but what happened during Christmas lives on and on. It lives in our memories, it lives in these leftovers, it lives as we see anew what this Christ child means for us. The Christmas spirit, the birth of Jesus lived on in so-called leftovers of society as we read about Simeon and Anna in our gospel lesson this morning.
The Christmas Spirit was revealed first of all to two old people, Simeon and Anna. As Pastor John Brokhoff says in his book, Wrinkled Wrappings, "They are leftover from the meal of life. By their wrinkled, shrivel bodies they appear as wrinkled wrappings. But leftovers can be good and delicious as the main meal. This was the case with the couple in wrinkled wrappings. They saw something 40 days after Christmas that no body up to that time had seen. The shepherds, the religious ruler who heard rumors of his birth, his father and mother, all didn’t really understand or see in this child the image of God. The only ones who recognized the Messiah in the man-child, God in Jesus, were two aged, wrinkled, wrapped left-over people, Simeon and Anna."
Simeon and Anna saw and they believed, they saw and worshipped, they saw and lived in that grace they experienced from that child, they saw and continued to serve God through others. These marvelous people, these leftovers, this wrinkled wrapped man and woman are a fine example for us of how God continues to reveal himself to the leftovers, the wrinkled wrapped people of society. God doesn’t always reveal himself to the powerful, the wealthy, the healthy, the wise, the famous, the upper crust of society. He reveals himself to the lowly, the outcasts, the leftovers, the wrinkled wrapped, who society has frown on, who society has disregarded as weak, and worthless, but God sees as whole and holy.
God came as a child to this earth to be with all of society, even the so-called leftovers. "A negro died and went to heaven. He got together with other blacks and they started comparing their life histories. Finally, they approach God, and their spokesperson said, "Lord, you just don’t realize how tough it was down there!! I was born black. I was of a despised race!! And God said, "I was once a Jew." The black went on, "Yes, but I was persecuted. My daddy was innocent, but still the Klan hanged him." And Jesus showed them his own nail-scarred hand. "You don’t understand, Lord!!" The black went on, "I never had a cent, no education, no home. People laughed and scoffed at me. Why, when I was a baby, we had to flee our house and move to another city for the safety of our lives." And God smiled tenderly. He placed his big arm around the black man’s shoulder and said, "I know how it is my son. I have been there myself."