First Congregational Church
December 24, 2017
“The Gift of One Like Us"
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
It really is a joy to have you all together this evening. Whether you are familiar with this church home or you’re a few-timer, there is no other gathering in the world - never has been - never will be again - this particular group of strangers, individuals and families. On top of that, any stores that you might need probably aren’t open until Tuesday, so all that’s left is to enjoy your efforts to get here and put aside any regrets or worries, because from here on out, this is the Eve of one of the greatest moments in the history of our world and all time.
Maybe Mary and Joseph felt a little of the enormity of that night, having the experiences with the angels and prophecies of the birth to come. But chances are they weren’t thinking about all that; being caught up in the very human event of birthing a baby. The stable was no Howard Johnson’s or John’s Hopkin’s, but like so many of you, they were in the midst of something that would change their lives forever. It is doubtful, however, that they fully understood or could have even begun to understand the enormity of influence their tiny, wrinkly, scrunched up and wailing baby would have on the rest of the word - and eternity.
In that commonplace birth however, the Son of God becoming the Son of Man, the most profound, unfathomable and grace-filled gift was given to us, to give our lives meaning and a connection to eternity that could never have happened any other way. The birth we celebrate this night gives us pause to wonder about God, totally dependable, yet unpredictable, who chose unimportant, humble people to bring the gift to us. This gift of a child gives people, too often treated as things, dignity and value - in the Christ child brings us our identity as true children of God. For all of us, especially those who feel that they don’t matter to anyone, let alone society, this nighty, they know that they matter - most especially to God.
Apparently, Abraham Lincoln once had a dream in which someone said of him, "He is a common-- looking man,” to which Lincoln replied, "Common--looking people are the best in the world; that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them."
In giving us a child’s birth, God elevates our commonplace to a position of importance in a “God-with-us” sort-of-way. The extravagance of this “importance” is revealed in that it is not just for a singular point in time, but for all of eternity. And God gives this gift as if you were God’s most beloved and dearest of heart. So snuggle in, and get ready for the gift that is given again in this evening, as we enter into the Christmas Eve Unison Prayer found in your bulletins.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.