Oakdale United Methodist Church
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Praise God, Love Others, Grow Spiritually, and Share Jesus!

From the Pastor

I wonder if history would have been different if the Christmas story had been different. What if Jesus had been born, not in the nondescript little town of Bethlehem, but in Jerusalem, the seat of power? What if Jesus had been born, not to a peasant carpenter and an unmarried girl, but to a highly respected couple beyond any reproach whose family and neighbors would have joyfully celebrated the news of their pregnancy? What if Jesus had been born in the purity of the Temple area, rather than in the filth of an animal stall? What if Jesus’ first visitors were not dirty shepherds, who were considered sinners because they couldn’t obey all the details of the law, but righteous priests? What if the wise men, or magi, had actually been kings, as tradition has mistakenly suggested, and had offered him these gifts – a gold crown for his head, a kingly scepter for his hand, and a royal purple robe for his shoulders?

 

This is the way the people of Jesus’ day were expecting the Messiah to be born. He would have been born into power and purity, in preparation for his mission of putting Israel’s enemies under her feet and blotting out sinners from the face of the land.

 

Would history have been different if this were the Christmas story? I have to wonder if it would. Because throughout history, many Christians have acted as though that was the Christmas story.

 

To me, the real Christmas story is the most surprising, revolutionary, beautiful, hopeful, story in the world. It’s the story of how God chose to enter history and enter our story. God chose a frightened young girl named Mary who would have to bear the scorn of her family and community for being pregnant out of wedlock. Her rejection is part of the Christmas story because rejection is part of our story. God chose a peasant carpenter named Joseph who wrestled with his doubts and fears. His

doubts and fears are part of the Christmas story because doubts and fears are part of our story. God chose Jesus to be born in an obscure town where there was no room for him, in a place that was dirty, dark, cold, and lonely, because that hostile, uncaring world is the same one with which we have to contend. The first visitors to the manger were shepherds, who weren’t even allowed into the temple, because we know what it is like to be excluded. As we see refugees trying to enter our country, we remember that Mary and Joseph had to take the infant and flee as refugees to Egypt, because powerlessness is a part of our story too.


The Christmas story is not a story about either might or right. It is a love story. It is a personal message from God to you and to me. And the only way I can respond to this story is to open my own heart, and find the rejected, poor, frightened, doubting, lonely places inside myself. For God has clearly shown us that this is where he chooses to come. This is where he wants to be born. He comes to us as Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

 

God enters here because this is where we most need God. It’s only when we perceive our darkness that we search for the light. It’s only when we know our emptiness that we open to God who fills us. Can you find the place where you most need God right now? Let down the walls of fear, pride, and shame, and invite him to enter there.

 

Sincerely,

 

Pastor Michelle