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Blue Christmas: A Service for (almost) the Longest Night Blue Christmas: A Service for (almost) the Longest Night

Christmas is joyful, but is also a lonely time... ask Mary and Joseph
Christmas is joyful, but is also a lonely time... ask Mary and Joseph
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Blue Christmas: A Service for (almost) the Longest Night

Posted on Sat, Dec 20, 2014

December 19, 2014

 

Blue Christmas: A Service for (almost) the Longest Night

 

Matthew 8:1-3, 5-7, 14-15

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

8 When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2 and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him 6 and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.’ 7 And he said to him, ‘I will come and cure him.’

Jesus Heals Many at Peter’s House

14 When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; 15he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him.

 

At Christmas time there seems to be so many symbols, stories and customs that have been made up for so many reasons, we loose the reason we celebrate this day at all. The traditions gift giving and visiting family are understandable considering the traditional message of Mary and Joseph were going to Bethlehem, the town of his ancestors and the Magi came and brought gifts to the baby Jesus. The songs can be schmaltzy but some are very powerful. But the important message about Christmas for tonight is that Christmas is all about the story when Jesus met the leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Hansen’s Disease, or leprosy, is a terrible disease that not only eats away at your body, it causes you to loose feeling in our nerves, and is so feared it has caused humans to remove the victims from their very homes of origin.

 

How often we feel like someone in the story?

 

But Christmas is all about God recognizing our true broken human experience and reaching out to us and choosing to heal us. Christmas is about God choosing to reach out to heal us and bring us back into a proper relationship with our Creator God.

 

 

Philippians 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

To live from one paycheck to the next; doing everything possible to just make it one month to the next. In this kind of struggle, or shall we just call it what it is, “survival,” how do we ‘rejoice always?’ Having faith doesn’t cause all of your problems and struggles to go away. Sometimes it may even introduce more difficult issues.  But faith does tell us that we are not alone, and just like Mary and Joseph, even though they were far from home, work and security, through faith, they knew that they were part of something much bigger than themselves… a blessing that is ours through the gift of Baptism could only be called, “Magnificent!”

 

Romans 12:2, 9-16, 20-21

2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Marks of the True Christian

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 20 No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

Have you noticed that almost any news that is called news nowadays focuses on issues that divide people, destroy relationships and careers, and are absolutely toxic in the effort to bringing people together? “If it bleeds, it leads,” whether we bleed blood, sweat or tears. But this is not the world that God had in mind for us. Good sees our brokenness and Jesus sees us ones to be made whole again. We turn our backs to our Creator God and create our own world of self-centeredness, myopic vision, greed and essentially making ourselves and our desires into little the gods all the time. But Jesus comes to us to illumine our wounds whether they are self-inflicted or from the battles of everyday life.

 

Again, Jesus sees how we are blind to our self-centered desires and addictions and came to us in order to heal us from our blindness, deafness and confusion. And when we are able to face our brokenness and hear the Good News we are made whole again through the Cross of Christ, we do become transformed. Think about the man who was filled with the demon called “Legion” because “there were many” … when no one had the strength to control this man, Jesus healed him; and what was the result of that healing? The man once called possessed, only wanted to follow Jesus because he knew that his hope was in the Lord, and was now free from all those things that had him in bondage. Let the babe of Christmas set you free, and you will be free indeed. Let this Freedom give us a new voice to speak out justice, freedom and mercy to a hurting world!

 

2 Corinthians 5:17-20

17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

 

Every Thursday and Friday Angel Network opens its doors to feed the hungry. There are many levels and needs for service in the world, we need people to give legal aid, provide buss passes, help people obtain proper ID’s, provide all forms of health care, find shelter and jobs, but our niche is to make sure people have enough food to survive. We fill bellies, and we work with other groups who provide more services to the needy. It is hard physical, mental and even relational work! I call them “angels,” because that is exactly who they are, their service proclaims love, mercy and the protection of dignity… and what is most amazing about many of our volunteers is that many of then have walked down the difficult road of drugs, crime or whatever, but in their journey, through someone else offering them mercy and a new chance, they serve, and they are the ones who call themselves blessed! The work is a spiritual exercise, they know the dark side, but now live in the light. It is hard to fool them, or convince them they do not have to follow the rules. They no longer walk in darkness, but now through faith, walk in the light.

 

Matthew 18:21-22

Forgiveness

21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

 

This is the hardest text for people to read because, from the time of the disciples to even today, we read it with us, again, at the center of the context. Can you forgive an eternal amount of times, and still stay cheerful and content.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry I burned down your house and crashed your car!” “Oh, that’s okay.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I burned down your house and crashed your car!” “Oh, that’s okay.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I burned down your house and crashed your car!” “Oh, that’s okay.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I burned down your house and crashed your car!” “Oh, that’s okay.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I burned down your house and crashed your car!” “Oh, that’s okay.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I burned down your house and crashed your car!” “Oh, that’s okay.”

 

Is that what this text is about? Us doing all the forgiving to someone without any thought of consequence or purpose? The text is about what God does with us everyday, because each and everyday we turn our backs on God, which is essentially nailing him to the cross, again, and again, and again.

 

But this is the amazing mystery of God’s grace… as Jesus carried His cross to Calvary, he was going with the anger of the soldiers, the humiliation brought on by the religious leaders, those who one day cried “Hosanna!” one day but were now demanding his crucifixion, and as he hung between heaven and earth, Jesus had you and me and all the people of all time in mind, as he gave his life as the greatest Christmas Gift of all time. Amen.

 

 

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