Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
The story you’re hearing again tonight is also being heard in countless other churches. It’s got all the trappings of a good story, a great story. The complete story—beginning to end—is full of twists and turns, of darkness and sadness that speaks to our deepest longing, of light and joy that we think can’t possibly be true. It’s got flesh and blood characters. Characters who’d feel just like you and I would if we were in their shoes.But this story, tonight’s story, is better than all other stories because it’s the most real story there is. “It happened,” says Luke. So it did! If you took your Go Pro to Bethlehem back then, you’d record exactly what our Gospel recounts to us. This is no “Whos down in Whoville” or “the Night before Christmas.” “It happened,” really happened, says Luke. Those other’s didn’t.
And, even though it’s told by children, it’s not a safe story. The best stories aren’t. It changes you. He changes you. Jesus does. It’s His story. But we try to make it safe. Try to make Him safe. It’s easy it do. We box Him up like the many presents under our trees. We confine Him to fond childhood memory, when He was bigger and meant more to us. We’ve grown up, and now “there’s no more room for Him in the” inside of our hearts
But His is a story not of the best places within you. He wants to bring His light, His love, His forgiveness to the barnyard parts of your life, to the bullheaded and stubborn, to the cold and dark, to the muck and mire. There He would reign, there He would shine, there He would wash away, there He would make His love blossom, bloom, and grow.
He would rewrite your story, write you—yes, you!—into His story, but what we want more than anything else is our story. We want to be the hero, the main character, the victor, the king, the queen. Even better, we want to the be the author of the story. With pen in hand we write each chapter, building on the past, outlining the future, and with each stroke we write Him out of more and more places, or maybe just putting Him in an appendix, a footnote, an endnote.
But here’s this Baby. An invasion. An upset to each person’s story. Here comes the Author and the Word, the Mighty and the Meek, the Victor and the Victim. All for you. Each part of you. No cleaning up for Him. He comes to be in your barnyard to rewrite every twist and turn of your story to be part of His story, His salvation story. That’s what this not-so-safe story is about: salvation. He wants that to be your story, too.
JESUS’ STORY IS YOUR SALVATION STORY.
It’s a story different from any other in the entire world. It’s the most real story there is. It’s a story with a completely different language than what we’re used to in our own story. It’s a story where we’re not the hero. We’re passive not active, selfless instead of selfish, cross destined rather than glory bound, saved by His death instead of redeemed by our living.
He would cross our path and life, and has! He’s traced that cross on our foreheads and hearts, washing out the barnyard of our life in Baptism. In your heart and life He would still dwell, in spite of what we do with the place, in spite of our writing Him into the smallest corners. So, He continually writes Himself into your story and you into His. Each Word of Scripture and preaching imprinting Him on you. He would fill the pages of your life not with your triumphs and trophies but His own trophies: His body and blood for you and your forgiveness.
Then, and only then, would your life be warm and glow with His salvation. That’s His story for each one of you. JESUS’ STORY IS YOUR SALVATION STORY. It—no, He will change you! You’re safe with Him because “it happened,” as Luke says. Yes, “it happened”—every last bit of it: Bethlehem, Calvary, Word, and Gifts. His continuing story really happening for you, just for you.
INI + AMEN.