Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

(Read Luke 2:1-14)

Other than Chuck and Sarah themselves (and, of course, all the grandparents, aunts and uncles in waiting), no one was more concerned about the birth of Evan than Teddy. Calling once or twice(or seven!) times a day, he just couldn't contain himself waiting for this birth.

Well, it finally happened.

Last Saturday, December 15th, Sarah and Chuck headed down to the hospital, early that morning. After calling family, they called and left a message on my cell phone to let us know what was happening and about to happen. Bonnie and I were very excited, nad wondered if we should call Teddy to let him know. But we thought he should hear it directly from Chuck and Sarah, so we waited.

We shouldn't have worried. More than an hour (!) before calling my cell phone, Chuck had called Teddy's, to alert him to what was going on. Imagine that, calling the son before calling the father, calling the preacher's kid before calling the preacher, calling someone who doesn't rate very high on the world's "importance" scale, before calling all the important people (like me!)

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Sounds like the story we will be reading tonight or on Christmas Day. That story that begins with a list of all sorts of important people: Augustus, the proclaimed ruler of the most important empire in the world; Quirinius, the important governor of that important part of the world; the bureaucrats and number crunchers who are recording all the names and numbers for the most important head count ever done in human history! Important people are running around doing important tasks, and tripping all over other important people!

And who gets the news about the truly important event in human history? Just a bunch of people who have been hired to do that menial task of watching sheep during the long hours of the night. Just those nameless, faceless folks who go around picking up our trash, and cleaning our curbs, and repairing the power lines which come down in bad weather. Just those people that we don't even notice, who are patrolling the parking lots while we are in shopping, who are ringing up our purchases while we are marking another item off our list, who are cleaning off that table in the restaurant so we can sit down and have a meal.

The most important story ever told begins with that plot twist which will be woven throughout the rest of the tale, that when God thought it important enough to send the Child to save us, the news was first given to those who are shoved to the end of the line, to those who never get a vote in the 'Most Likely to . . .' balloting, to those who don't know where the stable is but won't stop until they find it, to those pushed aside by a world which believes in the survival of the fittest.

So, when you go to the late night Christmas Eve service, don't be disappointed if you get the good news second-hand, from someone who is heading back to work after getting to Bethlehem before you. Don't feel hurt that God first told someone else before God told you that there is a baby waiting for you out back in the barn. Don't get bent out of shape because God decided that the most important people to hear about the birth of their Savior, are the people we deem to be unimportant to us.

Prayer: Open our ears to the songs sung by an off-key choir, to the story told by those we are sure we should not trust, to the promises given so long ago most of us have forgotten them. Open our ears, so we might notice what you are doing in our midst, User of the unimportant.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

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