“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy for all people” (Luke 2: 10) No wonder, we think of it now as a global newsflash.
At the time, besides a genocidal order from the Empire to kill children (and even that only local), the world hardly noticed Jesus’ birth. Just a handful of people even knew of his arrival, one of countless unnoticed, uncared for births.
A poor, brown child, born in a forgotten village, of peasant parents, displaced Jews in a time of suffering for their people.
The majority of his years were spent in another village, still unknown. (Like most of us.) Almost nothing about that part of his life is known, except that it was unexceptional. We believe he worked as a carpenter, alongside his father, until the latter’s death?
At about thirty, which was not young in that day, he left his trade, and his home and family. He experienced a calling and dedicated his last three years as an itinerant preacher, teacher, healer, and miracle worker.
His ministry took him no further than a hundred and fifty miles from where he was born. He never set foot in any world capital, in fact never entered a city with more than 40,000 inhabitants. His work was in small towns, or out in the fields, among the dispossessed.
He never wrote a book, held an office, or was recognized by the world. He never owned a home or fathered a child. He could read Scripture and had an uncanny way with his religious tradition. But otherwise, he did not have much schooling; he certainly never went to college, nor held advanced degrees.
His only credential was his faith and the life and witness that flowed from it.
Never liked by the establishment… at the end of ministry… the tide of popular opinion turned against him. One of his closest betrayed him. Another denied him. All his supporters ran away. He was turned over to the authorities. There wasn’t much of a trial. The state (the Empire again!) executed him along with two thieves. The guards rolled dice for his coat, the only property he had on earth. His body was laid in a borrowed grave.
And yet this story was only beginning. God was at work all along. The story became history and changed lives and our world.
You and I are invited to begin his story again at Christmas. With the church’s help. That living with Christ and through him we too might be changed and participate with God in changing the world.
Merry Christmas, friends. I can’t think of a better gift. Or one we might want to share and pass on, in a hundred different ways.
Christmas Offering: Old First is at work, not just at Christmas time, but all year long… trying to get done what Jesus asks of us. Special Offering Envelopes will be in the pews. Or you can make a Christmas Offering here online.
Old First’s Christmas schedule is the first item on our website. Hope to see you all some time that I may greet and wish you the best in person. Also, please use this schedule to invite someone to church, won’t you?