Christmas is going to be a bit more difficult this year for a lot of us here on Long Island’s South Shore. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, going home for Christmas just isn’t an option for a lot of us, as we are staying with relatives in cramped quarters, or in a hotel, or maybe we’re not even sure where we’ll be at all. How can we have a Merry Christmas when we don’t have heat or electricity or even a home?
Well, maybe something like the way that Joseph and Mary did, when they found themselves homeless in Bethlehem. Alone in her labor, giving birth in a stable, Mary nonetheless brought forth into the world a child who was the hope of all humanity, his birth all the more significant because it took place in humble circumstances. God became incarnate in a child who was himself without a home to be a Savior not just for those lucky enough to be gathered with their loved ones in warmth and comfort but especially for those who like him were vulnerable, needy and dependent on the compassion of others; those among whom Jesus told us he would always be found. And so the good news of the gospel is one of hope and salvation not just for the fortunate, but especially for those who have suffered, for those who have been knocked down and are struggling to get up again.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that we will find him with the hungry, the naked, among those who are struggling and also those who reach out to feed, clothe and help them. Christmas is all about God’s promise that as we reach out to our neighbors in need, and accept the gifts they give us in return, we will find our true home in blessed community with our Redeemer, and probably in a place we never thought we’d be. Christmas isn’t at the mall after all — it’s wherever God’s love lives in us, in the love that survives the storm.
Have a Happy and Blessed Christmas!
Pastor Mark Lukens, Bethany Congregational Church