When Love Leads

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

God’s action in this world can be difficult to see. There are other forces at work in and around us that command our attention and they have a lot of power over us. They create fear, mistrust and they feed that part of our heart and soul that wants to tell us that this world is out of control and we are powerless to do anything about it.

Luke 2:1-20

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

God’s action in this world can be difficult to see. There are other forces at work in and around us that command our attention and they have a lot of power over us. They create fear, mistrust and they feed that part of our heart and soul that wants to tell us that this world is out of control and we are powerless to do anything about it.

I was saddened and yet not surprised to learn that we have averaged almost one mass shooting a day in 2018. [1] From Washington to Wall Street and the world there is an incredible amount of anxiety, fear and anger that is generated on a daily basis. It is strange how we are drawn into this narrative.

It changes our lives.

It disrupts our relationships with family and with friends.

It has the power to deeply affect us in ways that we hardly notice except for the unnamed and unspoken anxiety we carry inside.

When fear, anger and anxiety lead our lives it makes for a difficult and hazardous journey.

We all know how this can affect and change us.

There is another narrative at work in this world. It is God’s story and it can be difficult to see.

When Joseph and his very pregnant soon to be wife travel to Bethlehem, they are simply doing what the Roman government told them they had to do. I don’t know if there were penalties to be paid if you didn’t get counted as part of this census but perhaps fear played a part.

 

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 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. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

God is at work in the journey of one couple, completely unnoticed in the grand scheme of things going on at this time in the world.

The love of Joseph for Mary leads them to Bethlehem. The love of this couple for the child yet unborn leads them to the place where God has decided to enter this messy and broken world of humanity and it is largely hidden from the eyes of all except a few shepherds.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 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.

Love literally comes to earth in the birth of Jesus. Holy wonder appears in human birth.

The fullness of God comes and we see that love is leading the way.

Love breaks into our world with the birth of Jesus.

Love breaks into our families even when we struggle to understand and live out this love.

There isn’t one family here tonight who is immune to the tension and the anger and the stress that is present in our lives and world as a result of forces around us that seek to devour us and control our lives.

Perhaps this is why churches across the land are so full on Christmas night. Might this be a sign for you and me of a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger that love has the power to lead us out of the stress, the tension and the anger that seeks to control us.

This love awakens faith for many of us on Christmas night because it has the power to lead us to the manger – a safe place where the noise and the rancor of our world is blocked and we can sit in the joy, the wonder and the mystery of Jesus birth this night.

It is love that leads the shepherds and once they get over the terror of a heavenly chorus of angels they say “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.

What is the one thing in your life right now that is creating the most tension, the greatest fear, the deepest heartache?

If you were to let love lead you instead of fear, where would it take you?

If you were to let love lead you what might the outcome be for you?

Would it open your eyes to see how God is at work in you and through you?

Would you be able to see the hope and peace of God’s gift to you and me in the birth of Jesus?

Would it heal a broken heart? Restore a broken relationship? Provide for a child in need?

Even when life doesn’t go as we plan it, God can help us find our way.

One small example of this occurred two hundred years ago tonight at St. Nicolas church in a small village just outside of Salzburg. On December 24, 1818 Silent Night was sung in worship for the first time. Tonight is the 200 year anniversary of this beloved carol.

A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816.

The melody was composed by Franz Gruber a schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass, after river flooding had damaged the church organ. These two men had a message to share about God’s love at Christmas.

This beloved carol is sung all over the world. Its message is one of hope, peace and assurance that God always leads with love.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm. All is bright.

Silent night, holy night. Son of God, love’s pure light.

When you sing this beloved carol tonight, let it be a reminder that love always leads us to the place where God’s peace and the calmness of God’s presence overshadows everything else.

When you sing this carol with candles held high and your voices raised, let it be a reminder to you that loves pure light always leads us out of the darkness.

When you sing this beloved carol tonight, let the radiant beams of His holy face fill you and make you whole with His redeeming grace.

Tonight, let love lead you to the manger.

Let the Christ child be born anew in your life.

And let us together with the angels and the shepherds sing, Christ the Savior is born. Christ the Savior is born.

Thanks be to God. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Gun Violence Archive

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