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Posts Tagged ‘What are you wearing?’

          “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness– on them light has shined.  3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.  4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.  5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.  6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” – Isaiah 9:2-7

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          In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.  2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  3 All went to their own towns to be registered.  4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.  5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.  6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

             8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see– I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,  14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

              15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”  16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;  18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.  20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. – Luke 2:1-20

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Merry Christmas!!!  On Christmas Eve I always feel like I’m skidding in, breathless, like a baseball player sliding into home plate. But we made it!

For those who are visiting tonight: for the past month we as a congregation have been working our way through an Advent/Christmas series called Close to Home.  This evening the theme of the lesson is “Invited Home” – so even if this isn’t your usual church home, you are most welcome here.

We gather again on Christmas Eve to hear the familiar and much-loved story of the birth of Jesus: to hear about Mary and Joseph, and the shepherds and the angels, and the fact that there was no room for them in the inn, so Jesus had to be laid in a manger.

Our scripture reading tonight from Isaiah tells us who this baby really is. Isaiah says:

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.” (Is. 9:6-7)

That’s a pretty tall order for a newborn baby! But in case we should doubt it, the angels appear to the shepherds and enhance Isaiah’s words with their own words. They say: “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)

This isn’t just one more cute little baby in a world full of cute babies. This is God Himself!

It’s a lot to take in – but the shepherds got it. They caught on right away and ran to where Mary and Joseph were, to see for themselves. And Mary pondered everything in her heart, as she nursed her baby boy.

We also are invited to enter in, to gaze at this amazing sight and take it all in. This is Christmas!

Just out of curiosity, as I was getting ready for tonight’s service, I decided to Google “Christmas Eve” to find out what non-churchgoing people are talking about regarding Christmas – what’s the buzz?

The most-asked question about Christmas on Google was: “what should I wear on Christmas Eve?” When I entered that question into Google, Google gave me 270 million web pages as a result. More than that actually: Google basically said “here’s the first 270 million, click here if you want more…”

What should I wear on Christmas Eve?

Here’s what I decided to wear. This is one of those things that… you know how you go shopping for somebody else and you end up buying something for yourself? This is one of those things. I got these for my sister-in-law and I got two for me. Check it out.

Socks

“Master has given Dobby a sock. Dobby is free.”

Any Harry Potter fans here tonight will know what this means. And for the rest of you (who are probably tired of hearing about Harry Potter) I promise I will move on quickly.  But this line in the movie is one of those moments. It gets you *right here*. In short, the story is this:

In the wizarding world, rich and powerful wizards sometimes have “house elves” who are basically slaves and are very badly treated. One house elf named Dobby becomes friends with Harry Potter, and one day Harry asks him why he always wears the same filthy outfit. And Dobby explains that it is the mark of the house elf – the slave. If his master ever gives him clean clothes, he will be free.

So Harry arranges to have Dobby’s master – without knowing it – hand Dobby a sock hidden in a book. When Harry whispers “open it”, Dobby sees the sock and says, “Master has given Dobby a sock. Master has presented Dobby with clothes. Dobby is free!” (I once saw this in a movie house filled with 5,000 people – and at that moment in the film all 5,000 people leaped to their feet and started cheering. The slave has been set free!)

Watch the scene here.

That’s what we’re seeing tonight in the manger. All of us, human beings, who are slaves to sin, who cannot be perfect no matter how hard we try, have just been set free.  Tonight is our moment! This is the night when we can, spiritually speaking, take off the filthy rags we’ve been wearing and put on clean clothes. This is the night when we are welcomed home – not as visitors but as family.

So going back to the question of what to wear on Christmas Eve: for those who are into fashion, the question is actually not “what are you wearing?” but “Who are you wearing?” (“I’m wearing Gucci, I’m wearing Prada, I’m wearing Stella McCartney…”)

Speaking as someone who has no fashion sense at all, and who was raised on science fiction, the question “who are you wearing?” sounds a little weird. It reminds me of the movie Men In Black, where an alien spends most of the movie wearing an Edgar suit. But what the question really means is “Who is the designer?”

On this holy night, Jesus might have said, “I’m wearing humanity.”  Jesus, who was fully God, co-creator of the universe, King of kings and Lord of lords, put all that aside in order to put on – and become – a human being: limited as we are, except without sin.

Why would Jesus do this? To make it possible for us to wear God.

The apostle Paul explains in Romans chapter 13. In this chapter Paul looks around at the world (which was as much a mess back then as it is now) and he says:

“You know what time it is, that now is the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ… (Romans 13:11-14)

So who are we wearing this Christmas? Are we wearing something the boss said this past week? Are we wearing an argument with a family member? Wouldn’t it be better to put away the filthy rags of a house elf and put on clean clothes and be free?

Some people tonight may be wearing sadness or grief in this holy season. If this is the case, know you are not alone; Jesus has an outfit a lot like yours.

The fact that God has put on humanity and come to the manger makes it possible for us, by faith, to put on Christ and become children of God.

Glory

So who do we want to wear this Christmas and into the coming year?

Why not wear the best?  AMEN

Preached at Carnegie UMC and Fairhaven UMC, Christmas Eve 2021

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