Sermon Snippet for Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sermon on Luke 2:1-7
Matthew 2:13-15
Miracle at the Manger: Joseph

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph 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. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And 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.

Matthew 2:13-15

13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

…that Christmas I sent out Christmas cards and in each I wrote, May The Love, Joy And Peace Of That First Christmas Be Yours.

Love, joy, peace. There was none of that on the outside. Perhaps God’s grace anchored Mary and Joseph inside their inner most beings with love, joy and peace, but in Bethlehem, closed doors, chaos, crime, loneliness and pain. 

All the residents could do was survive. And now flooding their town were refugees from all over the world, forced to go back there to a place long forgotten, irrelevant, and believe it or not, paranoid. Not enough food for themselves, and now all these refugees lining the streets, looking for roof lodging or perhaps a merciful soul to take them in. Bethlehem is a tourist trap today, people there love visitors, but not refugees that need food and shelter.

And it was into this that Jesus entered the world – into a world of refugees.

Could it be because of this that he was so compassionate to the needy.  And here in America we have a skewed picture of that first Christmas. All is calm, all is bright… again, maybe inside their Mary and Joseph’s heart but not outside on the streets.

And to make matters worse Herod the Jealous and paranoid king orders all the babies 2 and under be killed – the massacre of the innocents, and Joseph is warned in a dream to flee and where does he go, to another country all together, to Egypt. Hmmm. Sounds like his name sake, Joseph and the amazing technicolor dream coat Joseph, born many centuries before, he too a refugee in a foreign land.

I guess that gold, frankincense and myrrh came in handy in Egypt because they were there for years until a less crazed leader was on the throne.  Can you see why God orchestrates these gifts, gold I see but frankincense and myrrh went a long way in paying all those bills in Egypt. Refugees none the same but perhaps more resources than most.

I would love to start a chain of Christmas cards depicting the horror Mary and Joseph encountered but I know no one in their right mind would buy them.

Maybe Thinking Of You cards…

  • May the God who beats impossible odds be with you in your trial
  • May the God of all power empower you with strength to endure
  • May the God who is victorious over sin and death give you victory in your need.

Life for the holy family was tough.

Not unlike the unprecedented 70.8 million people around the world who today have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also millions of stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. That comes to us from the UN.

I truly believe that… we don’t have an immigration problem. We have a global refugee problem.

We don’t have an immigration problem. We have a global refugee problem.

So, here’s my challenge to us all this Christmas.

Instead of looking at refugees through the Democratic Lens Of CNN and

instead of looking at refugees through the Republican Lens Of FOX,

look at the refugee problem through the lens of the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who himself was a refugee, all his life.

He would say, Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have their nests but the son of man has no where to lay his head.

He would say he is leaving us to go and prepare a place for us so that where he is there he will be too. And that he will come back and take us to that place he has prepared for us. Till then he has given us the Holy Spirit, the paraclete, the one who is constantly at our side.

He would inspire Peter to write these worlds to all who would follow him, in essence, don’t get too comfortable here, this is not your true home, you are on a mission, you are my ambassadors of an inbreaking kingdom that has no end, specifically he would write…

1 Peter 2:11

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from worldly lusts which wage war against the soul.

Philippians 3:20

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 11:13-16

When the writer gives us a litany, we call the hall of faith, all those who followed God from Adam and on, she says… All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.

And so we have these 6 missions and organizations to support this Christmas, one of which is Dina’s Dwellings where women who have no home that is safe can be housed in a caring environment that cares for the whole person and sets them up with long term solutions.

And we have DIRE, which among other things provides legal representation to immigrants and refugees who want to become US citizens because here they will be treated for who they are… image bearers of our Gracious God. Amen!