"The Audacity of Christmas Part 2" by Pastor A.J. Houseman
So this Christmas Eve we are going to continue the conversation we had last Christmas Eve. Last year we talked about the audacity of Christmas.
That God, the GOD, the creator of the universe came into this world as a baby.
Like the almighty, all powerful, omniscient Divine… was born.
Christmas is audacious. Why? Because on Christmas, God became vulnerable.
It’s pretty ludicrous if you think about it. This all powerful God decides to become the most vulnerable thing in the world… a new born baby.
Like why would God do that? As people who are socially programmed since we are children not to cry or show vulnerability, it makes no sense to us.
Ok, so why didn’t God just appear like the super hero God is right in the middle of Jerusalem? The city of God right? That would make sense. To show up all mighty and powerful. People would have believed a lot faster that way right?
To be able to see God’s strength and might on display for everyone to see.
So… it’s really crazy what God decides to do. God became a baby, gestated and born like any other human baby. An ordinary thing.
And like why wouldn’t Go be born into royalty? That would make the most sense right? To have the most influence on people. But no, once again. God becomes vulnerable. God is born to an ordinary peasant woman.
Pastors at my clergy Bible study were reflecting this week, “like where is Mary even from?” We don’t know. They don't find it relevant enough information to include in any of the gospels.
So ordinary, that God is in a barn, no less.
This doesn't seem like a place or way that a super hero comes into the world. We learn more about a person in the ways they show their vulnerabilities than their strengths. Our vulnerabilities are our inner most selves. The ones we often hide from others. Our fears, our insecurities, our doubts, and the things we care about the most.
God chose to become vulnerable. Dependent on his parents for, ohhhh how many years would you say parents?
God. God is dependent on someone to feed him, clothe him, burp him.
But there’s more audacity in this story. Like a lot actually. Next year will probably be “ The Audacity of Christmas Part 3”. It really is a whole saga.
But the second part of the audacity of Christmas is the revelation to the people.
In the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke, the first people to see Jesus are not the kings, the wisemen, the magi. The ones of great stature and importance. The rich with their fancy gifts of Gold and myrrh.
Because what is Myrrh? Like who has had to google that to see what those fancy guys brought Jesus. It’s stuff they put in perfume.
I can only imagine how that went over. Just thinking for myself as someone who has received gifts for a newborn lately. I could just see Mary being like, “great… perfume…. Totally helpful.”
Anyways, I digress. Those were not the first guys on the scene. They were not the ones that God’s angel reached out to.
No, the ones the angel reaches out to are the shepherds. The farmers. The dudes snuggling with livestock outside, wearing mostly everything their own on their back. These are the ones the messenger of God first tells about the new born son of God.
Wait, what???? The first people that the angel of the Lord reveals the birth of Christ… The birth of God becoming human, the great divine, creator of the universe, the first people this message is given to? Smelly guys in a field. The audacity.
Like why would God do this? Like you would think that God physically manifesting in this world in a person would be some real big news. And the angel should appear to the king, the emperor, the news media outlets, NBC Today. Or the center of town, the halls of the temple, the highest mountain to proclaim this news of great joy and tidings.
But what does this audacious God do? Reveal the birth of his only son to the average blue collar farmers.
Now, as you all know, I’m from Iowa. One of those big farming, blue collar states. And tomorrow one of the big Christmas movies coming out about a famous Iowan: Kurt Warner.
The American Underdog: The Kurt Warner story.
Kurt Warner is from Burlington, Iowa…. Not a special place, just an ordinary blue collar river town. He went to mine and Carley’s alma mater: the University of Northern Iowa. Go Panthers!
He was an ordinary guy, from an ordinary place, playing football not at a top tier football school, but a division 3 state school for teachers. Its original name is the Iowa State Teachers College.
And guess what, he wasn’t even the star player… he didn’t see any real action until his senior year. Then went on to play arena football.
He even stocked shelves at my favorite grocery store: Hy-Vee in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
He was a nobody, an ordinary, blue collar guy, until someone saw something in him.
I imagine this is how the shepherds felt. They were just ordinary guys going about their ordinary day. When an angel of the Lord chose them, saw something in them and made them famous. People we talk about all over the world every year on this day.
Ordinary people turned extraordinary by God.
Their part in the story tells us one simple thing: God reveals Godself to the ordinary. The everyday folks.
The common folk. And this savior being born that is proclaimed to these guys is a savior, a king not for the important, the kings, the emperors, but that Jesus is the king of the common folk. The liberator and advocate. The savior of the unprivileged.
God chooses to come into the world in an ordinary place and revealed Godself to ordinary people. How audacious.
The savior of the world, born in a barn, revealed to the ordinary people…. That is our God.
The one that sees each and every one of us for who we are and where we are, and meets us there. Revealed to us in ordinary ways.
In a new born baby, in Christmas cookies from young neighbor kids, (in crayons and coloring books), in hugs from family and friends, and in the break and the wine.
God comes among us to dwell exactly where we are. This is Emmanuel, God with us. All of us, exactly where we are. The audacity of God. Merry Christmas. Amen.