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 (Isaiah 9:6).
May we never tire of hearing the Christmas Story. Mary, who said yes, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be unto me as you have spoken." Joseph, a man of integrity, who answered the call of God to take a risk and accept a new vision for his life. Each time we hear that there was no room in the inn for an expecting mother. This reality is a marquee of inhospitality. It is also a reminder that we should always make room in our lives for strangers in need. The Magi traveled far and long to worship the Christ child. The star in the Bethlehem sky was a sign of the fulfillment of years of prayers and prophesies. And the angels sang. With a look towards the cross, this glorious story includes each of us. Author Anne Weems reminds us that:
If there is no cross in the manger, there is no Christmas.
If the Babe doesn't become the Adult, there is no Bethlehem star.
If there is no commitment in us, there are no
wise men searching.
If we offer no cup of cold water, there is no gold,
no frankincense, no myrrh.
If there is no praising God's name,
there are no angels singing.
If there is no spirit of alleluia, there are no shepherds watching.
If there is no standing up, no speaking out, no risk, there is no Herod, no flight into Egypt.
If there is no room in our inn, then "Merry Christmas" mocks the Christ Child, and the Holy Family is just a holiday card, and God will loathe our feasts and festivals.
If there is no forgiveness in us, there is no cause for celebration. If Christmas is not now, if Christ is not born into the everyday present, then what is all the noise about?
(Anne Weems, Poem The Cross in the Manger).
Christmas is a season of proclamation...God is with us. Today we are the prophets who must proclaim God is here! Hope and inspiration is a priceless gift that everyone can give. Take the extra time this season to listen with empathy to those who are hurting. There are many Herods in the land who perpetuate fear, hate, dominion and superiority over others. If possible they would snuff out the message that God's love is not limited to national interest, cultures, kingdoms, bias, abundance or need. The reconciling God is for everyone. We have much to sing about...so go tell it on the mountain. Congregations, you have a strong witness to make in the communities in which you are housed. Pastors, your service is not in vain. Congregants, the ministry requires many laborers, thank you for your service. Let us hope in the miracles of the past and the promises of a bright future. For nothing is impossible with God.
Now may your days be merry and bright,
may you hear the angel's halleluiah,
may you find guidance in your seeking,
and may you experience Emmanuel.
Rev. SanDawna Ashley