(Luke 2: 1-20)


Maybe you’ve been fortunate enough to bring your own child into the world, or you’ve had the privilege of being an aunt, uncle or grandparent.  You find out that the mother-to-be is expecting and your mind races at the thought of how this little human being is going to change the world, or at least your world.  I see this a lot in my former Drug Court children who are now clean and sober taking another shot at life.  All of a sudden, they find out they are expecting, and they view the birth of their baby as a chance at a new life, a do-over.  There is a renewed hope for the future, this baby will change everything.  As the baby grows, they will grow too.  And that’s the message of Luke’s gospel for this evening.  This baby, this Jesus the Son of God, would bring a hope for the future that would allow us to grow as He grows in us.


Luke locates Jesus’ birth within the context of the Roman Empire where the Messiah has come to save the world.  He didn’t come to save just the Nation of Israel, but the entire world, all who would call on his name. Luke’s audience was predominantly Greek gentiles that would have been interested in and familiar with the political situation in play at the time.  Rome ruled with might, where Jesus would rule with right.  And Luke wanted to tell the story of how a Jewish Messiah would bring change to their lives too and make them better persons for it.  There was more to this story than just the birth of the new King of the Jews.


The Jews longed for things to get better.  And for centuries their very existence had been a life and death struggle and now they were living under an oppressive Roman rule that now wanted to extort taxes to finance their occupation.  For years they had hoped for the coming of a mighty king like David to raise an army and vanquish the hated Romans.  Then they could get back to living life the way they wanted to; the way God meant them to live.  Unfortunately, that kind of peace lasts only as long as the next king who comes to conquer, rule and tax.  Don’t believe me?  Just look at the Middle East during our lifetime and tell me they have a lasting peace, or that peace is just over the horizon.


The birth of a child to some carpenter from Nazareth and a young girl in a dark and dirty stable in the little town of Bethlehem was not the birth of the long-awaited Savior that they had been expecting.  The circumstances of Jesus’ birth were humble at best.  And hardly what you would expect of a future king.  Certainly, none of the great expectations and fanfare we see when one of the royals of the English throne announces the latest pregnancy.  No paparazzi, no tabloid headlines and no photographs of the pregnant mom.  No speculation on what this child will grow up to be, how they may or may not lead, or how they will change the world.


This child Jesus would live among us and experience life as we experience it.  In his human form he would experience what we experience, the highs and lows of life as it happens.  The joys of life that come with marriages, the births of children, the anniversaries, the pain of the death of loved ones, failed marriages, sickness, and the loss of jobs and homes.  He would grow among his friends and relatives, his cousins, his aunts and uncles, his brothers and sisters, and he would grow among the people of his village, his church, his synagogue.  And then, as a man, he would begin his ministry, leading by example and teaching us what it means to be a child of a loving God.  He would show us how to obtain a lasting peace, a peace that would outlast the ruler of the day and the ones to follow.  But this lasting peace, this peace on earth and good will towards men, would take years and years of work, and it would be unpleasant at times.  It would be no easy task.  There would be triumphs and failures.  There would be progress and setbacks.  There would be exhilarating highs and depressing lows.  There would be no guarantee that this peace would come in our lifetimes.  There would be times of great doubt.


When we do God’s will, we are not guaranteed comfort and convenience.  Doing what is right and just takes commitment, courage and conviction.  And sometimes we wonder if it’s worth the effort when all we see on the news or read in the paper is doom, gloom and failure.  In all of this, we have to remember God’s promise that everything, even discomfort and inconvenience, has meaning in God’s plan.  It’s the pain and unpleasantness that helps us focus on that wrong that needs to be righted, that injustice that needs to be rectified.  And through the Holy Spirit, we will be guided and provided everything that we need to do the work of the kingdom.  And, like Joseph, we will live each day by faith, trusting that God is in charge, and in God’s time all will be revealed.


The good news about Jesus is that he comes to all, including the plain and ordinary.  He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept him.  Whoever you are, whatever you do, you too can have Jesus in your life if you’re ready for a change, if you’re ready to become a better person.  Jesus is God’s gift to us, given to us over two thousand years ago.  He’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Jesus came to show us how to be a better person, a better people and a better church.  When we get better, the people around us get better.  When we get better, our world, the world around us gets better.  So, let me ask you, do you want to get better?  If you do, come see me, give me a call, let’s talk about it.  Let’s get better together.  Let’s be the gift that keeps on giving, the gift of being a better person in Jesus Christ.


Please pray with me.


Gracious and loving God, how we praise you for the gift of your Son Jesus Christ who came to heal, save, and show us how to be better people, the kind of people you would have us be in your service.  As we reflect on the greatness and magnitude of this gift keep us mindful that the gift of your grace, your love and your forgiveness are free for the asking.  We know all to well how imperfect we are and long to be better people for we know that the better we are in doing your work and your will the better off the world will be and the sooner we will see the return of your loving son, Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Merciful Father, we thank you for all you do for us, your children.  In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.