Christmas Eve: Come to the Manger

Tonight is a night we celebrate. It’s a night of great expectations of gift-giving and receiving; of time with family or apart from family. It’s a night that highlights our great joy. It is a night that exposes our deep despair.

Maybe you have been lost in your life. Maybe you’ve got a trail of footsteps that more resemble the dance of “two steps forward, one step back” instead of a straight line directly to Jesus, directly to the manger.

I’ve got good news for you: Jesus comes to you long before you can stumble to the manger.

Jesus comes to you before you can utter a statement of belief or faith.

Jesus comes to you when you’ve fallen off the wagon yet again.

Jesus comes to you when you feel like a failure.

Jesus comes to you when you’ve messed it all up again.

This is the message of Jesus.

You may hear, in our world, that Jesus favors the rich, the privileged. But the message we hear in tonight’s story is that hope was born into a violent world as a vulnerable baby and that world rejected him. It seems not much has changed.

And yet, Jesus still comes. To you and to me. And then he has the audacity to beckon us to follow him.  Not when we’re ready. Not when it’s convenient. Not when we feel well prepared and have gone through the training. No. Now. Jesus calls you to follow him right now. And it doesn’t mean you sequester yourself on a hillside far away and become holy. No, on this holy night, Jesus calls you to go to work and go to your neighborhood, and go back to school and to simply and frustratingly love the people you come into contact with. Friend or enemy. Stranger or someone who doesn’t look like you. Or believe like you.

That’s the miracle of Christmas, folks. It’s knowing that Jesus comes to you, without regard for your track record, and says follow me.  It is the promise that he’ll love you on the days you mess up and the days you are faithless. It is the promise that he’ll love you on the days you’re as holy as an angel. No matter who you are and what you’ve done Jesus comes for you.

Come to the Manger. You’re qualified.

What? Who me? Yes you. Jesus comes for you.

Jesus doesn’t wait for you to be promoted.

Jesus doesn’t wait for your GPS to kick in.

Jesus doesn’t wait for your life to be going just as you imagined.

Jesus doesn’t wait until you feel worthy, or you lose the weight, or you lose the braces, or you get more money or better grades. Rather, Jesus comes to you right now.

And It all starts at the manger. But it doesn’t end there.

Jesus will send you out to love. To love the community you’re from. To love your frustrating family. To love people you swear you hate. To love people who look different from you. To share the wonderful news that Jesus has come not just for you but for all.

Come to the manger. It’s where it all starts. But it doesn’t end there.

Now, isn’t that about the Best News you’ve ever heard?

Thanks be to God.

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