Looking for Jesus (Christmas Eve)

Christmas Eve
Luke 2:1-20
Thursday, December 24, 2009

This sermon was delivered at our 5pm family service.  The first part of the sermon is the children's sermon, where children gather near the altar where a nativity scene is displayed.  The children's portion of the sermon was preached without notes … what follows below is what I prepared in advance.

Merry Christmas!
What a great night it is!  I'm so excited for Christmas.
But you know something, even though it is Christmas,
I have to tell you how much I like Eater egg hunts!
    I love Easter Egg hunts!
    Running around the yard looking for eggs, and putting them in a basket ….
It's loads of fun, isn't it?
But today isn't Easter, is it?
We're not wearing our Easter dresses and suits,
    we don't have baskets,
    and we certainly don't have chocolate bunnies at home waiting for us!
So why am I talking about Easter Egg Hunts?


Because, like when we have an Easter Egg hunt,
    I've been looking for something over the past few days –
    I've been looking for the baby Jesus.
I've looked under the tables,
    behind the couch and in the bin of toys,
    and I can't find him!
We're missing the baby Jesus from one of the nativity scenes we have at my house,
    and that makes me quite sad.
Not only that, but you might remember that it snowed a lot this weekend.
Well, we have a nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus on my lawn,
    but the baby Jesus is still covered in snow on our lawn.
We can't find the baby Jesus!
What are we going to do?  It's Christmas and we don't have the Baby Jesus!

Well, since we can't find our Jesus figures at home, I'm sure glad I came to church tonight.
Do you know why?
Because here at church I just heard a story telling me that Jesus was born!
Angels announced it, shepherds got all excited,
    the cows mooed and the sheep baaed. 
The star shined bright over the manger where Jesus was born!
Yea!  Isn't that great?  Jesus was born!
Well, I'm so glad I came here tonight,
    because even though I can't find Jesus at home right now,
    people stood right here and told me about Jesus, and look (find the baby Jesus figure) here's Jesus!
Jesus is here in this pulpit when the bible, God's stories, are read to us!
Well, I wonder … where else might Jesus be? (go to altar, find baby Jesus figure there)
    Jesus is here, at this table, where we hear special words
    about Jesus giving himself to us and to the world!
Where else?  (go to baptismal font, find baby Jesus figure there)
Jesus comes to us here in the baptismal font,
    where we are made children of God and given God's great promises forever.
And where else?  (go to pew, find baby Jesus figure there)
Right here, where God's people come together –
    families and friends and perfect strangers –
    Jesus comes to us here, and we call all these people the Body of Christ.
And so, I can't find my baby Jesus figure at home,
    but coming here today I've found him –
        in the Bible stories,
        in baptism,
        in holy communion,
        in all the people gathered here …

Jesus is born many years ago alongside animals and in a stable,
    and this is why we celebrate.
But Jesus has also come to us here tonight,
    to be with you, to be with all of us,
    to love us and give us the greatest gift of all.
I'm going to keep looking for the baby Jesus at home over the next few days,
    and soon that snow in my yard will melt and I will find baby Jesus there.
But I'm glad that I came here tonight, to be with you, to help me find Jesus.

(Children return to their pews with their families)

Let's stick with that imagery of the Baby Jesus search, for a minute …
I think there are a lot of people in this world who are looking for Jesus.
Maybe they once had Jesus but later lost him,
    maybe they've never known him in the first place,
    maybe their searching for something but they don't know it is Jesus for whom they're searching.
Yes, I think that there are a lot of people who are looking for hope, love and joy,
    words that have been turned into Christmas ornaments
    and printed on wrapping paper and used in marketing slogans …
But words that, more importantly, speak to human longing for something better.
Yes, I think that there are a lot of people in this world,
    in our society,
    in this neighborhood,
    in this place here tonight who are looking for Jesus and for the hope, love, and joy he brings.
We are a broken people in a broken world,
    and we ache for the healing that Jesus brings,
    the new life that he gives,
    the world to come that he ushers in.
In his life and ministry Jesus showed us who God is and what God's kingdom looks like –
    entering the world in humility,
    serving the least of society,
    feeding the hungry, healing the sick, raising the dead, bringing in the outcast …
In Jesus we see who God is and what God is up to in the world …
    and it all starts at Jesus' birth,
    the occasion we commemorate here this evening,
    and it continues through his words and deeds,
    takes him to the cross and to the grave,
    raises him to life in flesh and blood, and ascends him into heaven,
    where he waits with his Father until he comes again.
Indeed, as much as this evening's worship is about looking back at Jesus' birth,
    it is also a celebration of anticipation of when he comes again,
    to fully establish his rule in the world,
    to reorder creation according to his words and deeds,
        to heal the brokenness of humanity once and for all,
        to establish new life for all who are in Christ.
This is what we are looking for this evening, sisters and brothers in Christ,
    not a snow-covered Jesus or a missing in action nativity figure,
    but a God who promises to shake things up
        by entering into our midst in the least expected of ways,
        by coming among us as one of us,
        by living and preaching in ways that are simultaneously appealing and disconcerting,
        by dying a brutal death and raising to a glorious life,
        by ascending into heaven, so that he can come again,
            to make us, and our world, new.
This is our hope, rooted in God's love, causing great joy.
Let us look, in this place and in the places of our daily lives,
    let us look in hope, faith and joy
    for the one who has come to us and who promises to return to us.
For Christ has come to us this night – in a stable and at this table –
    and he promises to come to us again, at this table and in the stables of our lives.
Let us look.  Christ is born.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.  Amen.

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
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