Sermon: Become a Manger for Jesus
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
December 24, 11:00pm, 2017
Scriptures: Isaiah 9:2-7 and Luke 2:1-20 (NRSV)
††††††††† Most of us arrive tonight hopeful and wishing. We wish for a joyful Christmas with our families and friends. We hope to see glee on the faces of children. We wish for true peace on earth, even as the realities we hear about cause us fear and worry.
††††††††† Truth be told, the source of true peace, freedom from worry and release from fear is the reason we are here tonight. Born to all people, announced by heavenly forces, met in the humblest of surroundings is the Savior of the world, Jesus the Christ.
††††††††† When the shepherds arrived, they saw a tiny newborn baby lying in a manger, resting there while his mother, Mary looked on. We can imagine her awakening from a nap, having gone through a stressful time of being in labor and searching for somewhere to safely deliver Godís child. The shepherds seek an audience with the One the angel had announced to them, so in haste and awe they search and find the baby, just as the angel had said.
††††††††† The Son of God lies sleeping in a feeding trough, snugly wrapped in cloth, the way all babies love being swaddled. But this was no ordinary baby and they knew it. Mary and Joseph listened as they told them what they had seen and heard from the angels. This was the third time angels had communicated with humans regarding this child. First, to Mary as she was told she would bear a child. Second, to Joseph as he was assured that he would play a crucial role in Jesusí life, even though he was not the father. That obedience to God in this matter would not be easy, but was the will of God. And now, to the shepherds, as they were in the fields watching their sheep.
††††††††† God was at work in the world, sending us hope and a source of healing and salvation. God came to be with us, in the form of a human being, incarnation of the divine. God-with-us, Emmanuel, came to set us free from the greed and hatred that keeps us enslaved in this life. Jesus came to show us the way to the Father.
††††††††† As that tiny infant lay in the manger, it became clear that anywhere that Christ rested there would be peace. Even in the lowliest of circumstances, like a barn, there was calm. No fear. No lack. There was contentment and joy.
††††††††† How wonderful it is when we invite the Spirit of Jesus to rest in us. How wonderful it would be if every human opened their heart and let it become like a manger, the place where His Spirit rests.
††††††††† In our Methodist tradition, we believe that Godís grace continually reaches out to everyone, not just a few. That grace brings redemption, freely offered to all. Our simple response of accepting Godís love for us brings strength through Godís Spirit, removing guilt and shame, strengthening against temptation and filling our lives with hope, love, joy and peace. Will you make your life a place where Jesus rests? Will you say thank you to God for the love specifically meant for you, brought to earth by a tiny little king who grew up and showed us the true nature of God? We hope so, for this gift is the greatest gift ever. Amen.