Christmas Eve 2019 Message (The Birth of God’s Reign) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Today, I would like to start with truth or false. Let’s test your biblical knowledge, shall we? First, baby Jesus was born in a stable; truth or false? There were three wise men; truth or false? Wise men came to the stable to see baby Jesus; truth or false? The nativity story is in all four gospels; true or false? Not a lot of people read the Bible closely; their biblical knowledge is based on the Bible stories they hear, which may or may not be accurate. For those of you who don’t worship with me Sunday mornings, every week, I reveal one thing about myself so my congregation can get to know me. Today’s one fact about myself is that I have a mild OCD. My books have to be organized alphabetically according to the authors’ names. My father mixes Corn Flakes and Frosty Flakes to control the sweetness level, but I cannot mix two different cereals in one bowl. As you can guess, trail mixes make me feel uncomfortable. The reason why I am confessing my OCD today is because the nativity scene makes me feel uncomfortable because it’s not biblically accurate and it’s a mixture of the two nativity stories from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Ok, that was painful. But now that I got that out, let’s take a look at the two different nativity stories. If you ask someone what Christmas is about, they might say, “peace on earth and goodwill to men,” like Linus said in Charlie Brown’s Christmas movie. But that answer is too abstract. What does it mean to bring peace on earth and goodwill to men? In Matthew’s account, Jesus was born in a regular house, not in a stable and the first visitors are wise men from a foreign country, who were most likely astrologers. They were foreigners visiting a foreign land. Later on, the Holy Family flees to Egypt and lives there for a while. They were refugees and asylum seekers in a foreign land. According to Luke’s account, Jesus was born in a stable and laid on a manger, and the first visitors were shepherds who had such little economic privilege that they had to work outdoors at night. The angels brought the news to them instead of to more powerful people of the land. Jesus was born to lower- class parents.
If you ask me what Christmas is about, I would say it’s about God sending the good news of empowerment to the marginalized people of the society. That is what the gospel of Jesus is about; all through his ministry, he preached about God’s kingdom where no one dominates or oppresses others. The evidence is all over the four gospels. Christmas is the day God’s reign of love and justice was born. At Christmas, we are surrounded by beautiful lights, Christmas music, a lot of sweet treats, gifts, and family. But as we enjoy the festivities of the season, I invite you to pause a little and quietly think of the baby who grew up to live and die preaching God’s kingdom of love and justice. Let us look around our world and see those who are downtrodden, sad, lonely, and made to think they don’t matter. First and foremost, let us remember God’s unconditional love for us that knows no partiality, be joyful and thankful about it, and share this love of God with our neighbours. God told us that we matter through the teachings of Jesus. It’s only right that we help others feel important and loved too. And I’ll end my message with a public announcement; enjoy food and material things in moderation and try to find joy in small and invisible things. Have a blessed Christmas for all of you, family, and friends.