St. John.jpg

Make Room

John 1:1-14

The Rev. Jon Roberts

24 December

2020

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. 9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Bible Stories told by Jesus by Greg Olsen, 2012

Unto us a child is born to us this day;
And gently, they laid him upon the hey.
If only he had a next of kin,
Surely someone would have let him in. [1]

This evening is about letting in Jesus Christ. The message is simple and plain as anything else. The story is the one we have heard our entire lives. It is the story of how God became flesh, here incarnate in Jesus Christ.[2] Here we reflect on the story from the Old to the New Testaments of biblical scripture. We sing the hymns and bring the story into focus with a scene that is triumphant, filled with solemnity and grandeur. We sit right here, and listen to these stories being told, as if Jesus, himself is speaking them to us.
But something is different about this year’s story. This year in the midst of all that is has gone on (i.e. The Pandemic, civil discord) we can actually relate to the journey of Mary and Joseph, with child on the way. Taking that long road to Bethlehem. Under a starry night, there was a lot of road to travel, and when they could go no further they entered the town where there was no next of kin. There was nobody to let them in. Now that part of the story sticks out. This is the Son of God. We need to celebrate and roll out the red carpet. Right? But that is not how the world received him. When he came into the world there was no room in the Inn. Door after door was shut in their faces and here is pregnant Mary and belabored Joseph and they have nowhere to go. “Will somebody please let us in?”

There was one person who had compassion. We don’t need to know the name and they showed them to a place where the cattle would lay. We think it was a cave hewn in the side of a nearby mountain. Other stories tell it was more like a barn. The nativity scene is special, especially to children. For them, they don’t just like to hear the story. They like to touch it. That’s why, when we “Green” the church before Christmas, and set out the characters; Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus; the Shepherds and sheep, donkey and cow. The children always get excited about this way of telling the story. It becomes real to them. It is earthen to them, as they hear a story about Jesus who was met by hey, smells and cold. What kind of greeting is that for the Son of God?

This year has been a long journey for all us. We have a good feel for what it means to travel a long way, only to wonder if you’ll ever get there. Will the journey ever end? Will we ever see a return of normalcy to the world? Those were some pretty turbulent times back then. It was a dangerous period of time. People didn’t know what would happen the next day. And people were distant. Does that sound familiar. It’s an old story. We have enjoyed a lot of Christmas’ in our church. One, to which I recall was my first year (2013) at this church and the weather that night was also pretty bad; rainy and windy. At the time of singing, “O little town of Bethlehem,” the rain came through the roof, right above the crèche and a steady drip hit the floor right in front of the baby Jesus. A parishioner thought it best to rush out and get something to catch the water. I hoped for something discreet, perhaps something that blended with the stable, but no. He came back with an orange five-gallon bucket. You couldn’t miss it and each time a drop landed, everyone could hear it hit the plastic. I can still see that stain on the ceiling where it entered. That has become a permanent part of my Christmas Eve story telling.

The story of Jesus is always the same story but something is different. We are different. It’s kind of like when you read the Bible. You can read it fifty times over, but then you have an experience to which you can apply that verse differently, with a new and more appreciative look. When you hear the story as a kid, you think, “That’s a nice story,” but when you get older, and you live through some experience, it takes on a whole new meaning. I pray that tonight Jesus is speaking to your hearts, inside your rustic manger scene, into your very soul. Whether it is raining in there right now, or a starry night, there must be room for Jesus.
There is a story, made into a movie about a young boy who was getting on the bus to his first day at school. You know what that moment is like, hoping you have a seat; looking for a friendly face? This young boy, who appeared a little odd, with metal braces on his legs, walked as best he could from one row to the next. Each person said, “taken”; “can’t sit here” and you can only imagine what he felt. But the boy continued to walk to the back, and then he heard a soft, sweet voice, like an angel’s from this little girl who invited him to sit. From that moment on, they would forge a lifelong journey and eventually learn the true meaning of falling in love.[3] It was possible because one person, let another person in.

We reciprocate the love of God when we let Jesus into our hearts. This has been a tough year, and yet there is still room in the Inn. This evening, pray that you will let Christ come and enter your manger scene, where he intends to give you the Christmas blessings of peace, hope, love and joy. Tonight is about the closeness of Christ. At this moment, a child is born unto us today, one who we gently place there on the hay. We are his next of kin, so will you please slide over, and let him in?

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] John 1:1-14
[3] Forrest Gump, Paramount Pictures, 1994.

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