There are four little books in the small library we call the Bible, which tell about the life of Jesus, the person whose birthday we celebrate tonight. I believe that every child born into the world ought to be celebrated, welcomed, loved and nurtured to be the best person they can be, and they should have at least a few people who celebrate their birthday.
But usually we don’t celebrate the birthday of someone who lived a long time ago, in a place far from here unless they have done something pretty amazing with their life. Now the four people who wrote about Jesus didn’t write about his birth the same way. In fact Mark didn’t write about Jesus’ birth at all. He wrote about what Jesus taught, and who he helped, and who he upset, because not everyone really wanted to celebrate Jesus.
John felt that Jesus was so connected to God that he said Jesus was with God from the very beginning, that Jesus was a living word and he wrote: The “Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (NRSV) another way of saying that is `the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.’ (T he Message)
Tonight you heard what Luke had to say. He tells a story of Jesus being born in a town called Bethlehem and angels told shepherds to go and find this special baby.
Matthew, the last writer doesn’t have a shepherd in sight, but he tells of some curious and hopeful people travelling from a country far away who bring special gifts to the baby. Even though the four writers didn’t tell the same story about Jesus’ birth, there is one thing they definitely agreed on. They agreed that Jesus showed us what God is all about, and what God is all about is forgiveness, healing, justice, kindness, compassion, and all these things can be summed up, by saying God is about love; God is love, and this love lived in Jesus, and it can live in our hearts too.
Well, tonight, we have brought these stories together, but, like many things in life, some assembly is required. Around this room tonight the characters from these stories are waiting. They are waiting to be discovered, they are waiting to take their part in the story. I’m wondering if there are any children here (or young at heart) who would help me find them and put the story together.
…At this point the children present rounded up the gift bags and helped assemble the nativity, which to my surprise contained a Lego train, which a young lad had been working on when I gave the word to help find the gift bags. So – all assembled, we really did have a `camel train’. Unlike the traditional view of the nativity, the children arranged the shepherds, magi, camels and angels to snuggle in close for a look at the wee baby so the congregation had a view of angel wings and camel tails!
We’ve found room for all these characters in the story, I wonder… is there room for you? Is there room for you to be hopeful, joyful, afraid, curious, open? Where might you find room in the story? What gift might you want to bring? What gift might you want to receive? (some shared their responses to these questions.
What might this story have looked like if Jesus had been born in northern Quebec among the Huron First Nations? Please join in singing this beautiful Canadian carol, `Twas in the Moon of Wintertime.