December 25, 2014

Arrived! By Rev. Leslie Dalstra

Scripture: Luke 2:1-20

“She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.”   Luke 2:7

Christmas has arrived!  The waiting, the preparation, the anticipation is over.
Every year there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything ready.  Unexpected situations seem to arise and I just don’t make plans for that.  I’m not sure that any of us really do.

As I began the Advent season, of course I had plenty of expectations of what my family would do together.  We would …
bake cookies,
purchase and put up our tree,
decorate it,
hang and place decorations around the house,
address and mail Christmas cards (which means of course ordering them and making sure you have stamps!)
we would venture out at night to view Christmas lights,
purchase and mail presents for our out of town family,
purchase presents for one another,
and we would take time each evening to light our Advent candles and do a daily family devotion.

As I look at that list I am not surprised that it was hard to get everything in. (And trust me we didn’t, or the things we got in didn’t happen in the exact same way as last year)  It seemed like I just could not get ahead of the game.  It’s a lot to add to an already full schedule.

And then there are the unexpected wrenches that get thrown into my life:  Things that need my attention that I had no idea were coming my way.

I think of Mary and Joseph, so much of the beginning of their relationship is not what they had planned.  Yes they desperately wanted to have God’s presence in their lives.  And they chose to take on such a great responsibility, but when they did, the rest of their lives didn’t fall into place, in an idealistic sort of way.

There was a census ordered and in a very inconvenient time, they were on their way to Bethlehem.  Then there was the reality that they arrived late and all the guest rooms were taken, so the only space open to them was the barn:  Which in the ancient near east was inside the house (they didn’t have barns like we Americans do removed from the house).  It doesn’t make it any more glamorous just less removed than we have imagined it.

Yet despite the wrenches thrown at them, God found a way to be present with them.  God always does.  Even in the most inconvenient places in our lives, God is present.  Even when nothing seems to be going as planned, God is with us.

So if you have young children and they have reached their limit and the sugar high is wearing off, know that God is with you (and your kids too).

If Uncle Joe is on another one of his political tirades (and you don’t vote the same way as good ole’ Uncle Joe), know that God is with you (and Joe too).

If you are finding yourself waiting with a loved one in the hospital and the situation is not at all what you had pictured for Christmas day, know that God is with you (and your loved one).

You see we don’t create Christmas with all of our preparations.  God comes regardless if we got the tree up or not, or made the cookies (or burned the you know what out of them and set off the smoke detectors) or got the cards mailed.  All we need to do to prepare is to open to experiencing the presence of God period.  That is Christmas, remembering and experiencing the story that happens over and over again.  It speaks to the deep truth that God comes to us regardless of how out of control our lives feel.  God comes to us.

Prayer:  We thank you God for coming to us.  Our world desperately needs you.  There is so much to be done to help make our world right side up.  Empower and equip us to be your agents in the world.  Amen.


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