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December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve

Luke 2:1-20

Isaiah 9:2-7

Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman

 

I hope by now you have done all of your Christmas shopping, because you are running out of time. Who knows though, maybe Amazon has overnight delivery by way of Santa’s sleigh.

Personally, I’m an in-the-store shopper. I like to see what I’m buying. I like to touch it. Check it out. To me, there is something about seeing it in the flesh.

 

There is something about seeing it in the flesh. There is something about seeing God in the flesh, embodied, incarnate. Knowing God to be – Emmanuel, God with Us.

 

Thousands of years ago, the Israelites knew God. They knew God to be the Creator of the universe. Through the covenants God made with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the Israelites, all the way down to God’s covenant with King David, the Israelites knew that God loved them. Knew that God would forever be present with them, guiding them, and providing for them.

They knew that God was capable of mighty deeds; they knew that God had compassion for the outsider, the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner. They knew that God extravagantly welcomed all to God’s house; they knew that God unconditionally loved each one of God’s creations.

 

But knowing isn’t the same thing as touching, as seeing. Knowing isn’t the same as believing.

 

Knowledge has to do with our heads. We know we should drink 8 glasses of water a day; we know we should eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables; we know we should exercise 30 minutes and get a good night’s sleep.

We know what we should do to be healthy, and then along come the Christmas cookies, and the late nights wrapping and writing Christmas cards…..

Knowing is not the same as believing.

 

Believing has to do with our hearts. Believing has to do with our souls. Believing goes down deep into the core of our being.

Believing is different than knowing, and God understands that about us – because God was the one who created us. God understands that we can intellectually know something and still not fully accept it, still not fully believe it.

And God really wants us to believe, to grasp with every fiber of our being, the depth of God’s unconditional love for each one of us. That is what God has been doing since the beginning of time – trying to help us fully and whole-heartedly know and believe that the Creator of the universe loves us beyond reason.

So God came to dwell among us. God came to dwell with us – so we could touch and smell, see and believe in God and God’s love.

 

God knew that God could not come in the form of God though. Even God’s angels, God’s messengers, overwhelmed humans and made them afraid. Imagine if we were to see God in God’s full majesty? It might give us a coronary. We would be so overcome, so terrified that it would defeat God’s purpose of coming to earth. Our fear would keep us from experiencing God’s unconditional love.

 

God did not come to earth in the form of God; God did not even come in the form of the warrior king the Israelites were expecting. Nor did God come in the form of a regular man; Instead, God came as a vulnerable baby, as a tiny child.

 

Infants, whether our own or someone else’s, have the power to capture our hearts like nothing else on earth. In their innocence, they offer to us unconditional affection and acceptance. We have only to look into their overly big eyes and cuddle their little bodies, and we fall in love – because they themselves are love incarnate – sharing love with all.

And that is why God chose to come to earth in the form of a little child. A little child, born in a holy city, and yet far from the seat of money and power. A little child who seemingly had no power or influence, whose parents had no power of influence, who first came to people who had no power or influence. Because this is what love looks like. Love is not about power or influence. It’s not about might, domination, or fear. Love is vulnerability; love is invitation; love is humility; love is a little child, born to peasant parents, in a humble shelter, surrounded by animals, laid in a manger.

 

On this holy night, we tell the story of Christ’s birth. We tell the story of God coming to dwell among us, coming to dwell with us. We tell the story, as we do year after year after year, so we can remember, so we can picture in our mind’s eye and be transported to that little town of Bethlehem, so we can see and believe.

See and believe how much God loves us. See and believe the depths of God’s love for each one of us, to feel it fill our hearts, soak into every fiber of our being, and transform our lives.

God loves you. God – loves – you! And when you go beyond simply knowing that to truly and utterly believing it, it changes your life. It transforms your world into one of endless peace and great joy.

That is my Christmas wish for you – that is the best present we can ever receive – to know to the foundations of our being that we are precious and beloved by the Creator of the Universe, by our Mighty God, and that nothing in heaven or on earth can ever separate us from that unconditional love made known to us through the Christ child.

See it. Believe it. You are loved beyond measure.