One Christmas Eve,
a preacher was standing at the door
greeting those who had come to the service,
and he met a man who only attends church
on Christmas and Easter.
The preacher pulled the man aside and said to him,
“brother, you’ve got to join the army of the Lord.”
Now, I will go out on a limb here and say,
this guy was not an Episcopal priest…just sayin’.
Nevertheless, the man responded to the preacher,
“Pastor, I am already in the army of the Lord.”
The preacher nodded,
“Then how come I don’t see you here
except on Christmas and Easter.”
The man smiled and came right back,
“Well, that’s because I am in the Secret Service.”
Whether you are in the Army….Air Force
or the Secret Service,
Christmas is an incredible story, isn’t it?
of how God comes to live right here amongst us.
And so, tonight we are Living members,
of the greatest Love story ever told.
But what exactly does Love mean…you might ask?
Well, a group of 4 and 8 year olds were asked this…
Their answers run deep --
“When my grandmother got arthritis,
she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.
So my grandfather does it for her all the time,
even when his hands got arthritis too.
“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody
most of your French Fries
without making them give you any of theirs.”
“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down
and little stars come out of you.”
My favorite -- “Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas,
if you stop opening presents and Listen.”
Hear the Good News on this Christmas eve:
Love has come into this room, right now.
God is pleased to dwell with us…as one of us,
because God loves us.
And yet tonight,
God comes as a baby, helpless, vulnerable, dependent.
Recently, I was walking across the hospital parking lot
when I came across a man who looked to be in his early 30's.
He was walking briskly, in business attire,
his eyes toward the ground.
I could see he was completely bald.
In other words, a good looking guy…
I figured he was on his way to the Cancer Center for a treatment.
I thought for a moment about his condition,
so young, dealing with this disease, interrupting his day of work
to come and receive medicines
that would either kill him or make him well.
I said a private prayer for him and all those I know
who are living with cancer right now.
Later, I was surprised to see the man again.
But this time he was looking straight ahead,
a big smile on his face.
He was not alone.
High on his shoulder was his son, four years old,
wearing a Winnie the Pooh bathrobe.
And then I realized… it was the child who had cancer,
who had lost his hair,
and was going home that day.
This young dad had shaved his head
not because HE had cancer,
but out of LOVE for his son.
I learned a lot about Incarnational Love, that day.
What looked to me and to the world,
as a sign of weakness
was in fact a sign of the deep love
this Father had for his Son.
Well, unfortunately for many of us,
Christmas can be a time when our woundedness,
and our vulnerability
is felt the strongest.
the lead singer of the British group – COLDPLAY.
knows exactly what this is like.
He wrote a song about his wife,
Gwyneth Paltrow’s, father’s death --
“When you try your best, but you don't succeed.
When you get what you want, but not what you need.
When you’re too in love to let it go
Lights will guide you home…
And I will try to fix you.”
Tonight, there are no secrets…
God has taken us up on his shoulders,
and He has fixed the world
with his Unconditional,
Incarnational – Love.
Our task now is to embrace this love,
and wrap our selves up in it…
And, let us join all the host of heaven
on this Christmas eve night,
Because Joy has indeed come into the world,
and it is now called: Emmanuel – God is with us.