Messages, Meditations, and Musings on the Life of Faith by Rev. Dr. Scott E. Olson, Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church, Mankato, MN

Monday, December 24, 2018

"Our Vulnerable God" - Sermon for Christmas Eve

Our Vulnerable God
Christmas Eve – Narrative Lectionary 1
December 24, 2018
Grace, Mankato, MN
Luke 2.1-20

Last Wednesday, during our final Faith Night worship before the holiday break, Vicar John crafted a service of Lessons and Carols. It was glorious just to worship and sing the wonderful Christmas music (even during Advent)!
Let earth receive her king;
let every heart prepare him room;
let heaven and nature sing…
I don’t often have the luxury of just worshiping, so as sang I became aware again the beautiful, poetic, nature of Christmas hymnody. The words are so finely crafted, attempting to express the almost inexpressible.
Joyful all you nations rise; join the triumph of the skies;
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail incarnate deity;
 born to raise each child of earth; born to give us second birth…
Nearly every song we sing at Christmas expresses, in one form or another, the deep mystery of the incarnation. It tells how the Almighty God emptied himself and took on human flesh to be us and to be with us. When those songs do this particularly well, we move heaven and earth to show up and sing, with great feeling. We do it in part because other songs of Christmas, such as Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, however cute, just don’t cut it. We sing because singing is one way we can respond to the incredible message of God’s love for us. The message is one we all need to hear, that in spite of—and because of—our brokenness, God comes to love us.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why the Christmas story was included in the narrative of God’s mission to love and bless the world through Jesus Christ? Have you pondered, as Mary did, that God came as a baby? Isn’t it amazing that God takes such an incredible risk to have a relationship with humanity? Think of all the things that could have gone wrong as God entrusts himself fully to Mary and Joseph. What would have happened had they told God, “No?” what if they hadn’t heeded the warning to flee Bethlehem when Herod was slaughtering the innocents? Yet, this God becomes vulnerable in order to feel what we feel:
O Savior child of Mary, who felt our human woe;
O Savior, king of glory, who dost our weakness know…”
Isn’t it amazing that God’s critical intrusion into human history begins with a vulnerable infant?
As we shall see, as Jesus grows and fulfills his mission here on earth we learn that he pays attention to the most vulnerable in the world. That can’t be a coincidence. And that’s good news for you and for me who are weak and vulnerable in ways we don’t want to admit. It means God that knows what it is like to be you and me, to struggle, to fall short, and to try again. It’s also good news because we know that God can and will come in unexpected ways to meet us.

We come on Christmas Eve to hear the message, to sing the mystery of a God who comes to us just as we are and hopes to transform us with his loving presence. Some of us find that easier to believe than others and to be honest, it’s why I need to hear the story and sing the wonderful songs every year. Merry Christmas, my sisters and brothers, to you who have come to hear that the Christmas message is for you! Join with me in singing the mysterious love of God:
Oh, draw us wholly to you Lord, and to us all your grace accord;
true faith and love to us impart, that we may hold you in our heart…”
Merry Christmas! Amen.

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