Jesus’ Little Helpers!

Luke 2:1-7
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.


Children’s Time: Santa’s Little Helpers: When I was little, and it was time to open presents, we always appointed someone to be “Santa’s Little Helpers.” It usually ended up being the youngest kids in the family. After I got older I was kind of glad I didn’t have to do it anymore. Did you know that Jesus wants to you be his helper? To deliver a present to everyone you meet called: LOVE. You don’t even have to wrap it – YOU ARE THE WRAPPING! Don’t let love’s enemies steal it away, like the Grinch. Oh, you know who they are: Greed, selfishness, “me first,” hitting and name-calling. They’re all ways we tuck LOVE back under the tree and pretend we don’t have to do that anymore. You never outgrow Christmas, and you never outgrow showing God’s love. Let that be the most important present we give this year!

Intro: Dear friends in Christ: grace to you and peace, from the One who is and who was and who is to come: our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Every day we get the chance to be Jesus’ helpers – to deliver this present of love and peace, of forgiveness and grace. The angels and the shepherds were the first “Jesus’ Little Helpers.” We hear their story in our gospel lesson for today:

“In those days a decree went out…” Those were the days! Right? I mean, just imagine how many hundreds of years people have been gathering on night – around the fire – around the altar – just to stop and reflect on “those days.” It means we have the precious gift of “today.” This day. Right now, you’re all here today because something extraordinary happened that night long ago… but even moreso, you’re here because you believe that it still happens. That God still comes down to walk in our shoes. That LOVE is still born anew. That God still comes to save us.

O come let us adore him. Let us celebrate his life – from the stable to the cross and everything in between. To realize how his rising on the third day stands to bring us back to life every day thereafter.

Everywhere Jesus went people’s lives were changed. Nothing was ever the same after they met him. We celebrate his birth, but every Sunday is a celebration! How do you sum up in just one day what Jesus means to the world?
Is it about the LOVE that he brings – a love that is stronger than hate?
Is it about PEACE on earth – a PEACE that passes all understanding?
Is about WAITING these 4 weeks of Advent, preparing our hearts with anticipation?
Is it FORGIVENESS of sins and a brand new start in life?

Wherever Jesus is, all things seem possible – no, not seem – ARE POSSIBLE! He doesn’t just make us feel good about ourselves. He makes us right again with God and with each other.

Because of this baby in the manger, we have hope, when all seems lost.
“Because he lives, we shall live also”
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

There it is… it’s all there in scripture, and it’s written on the tablet of your heart.

Love always wins. Love at birth… love that draws us closer, to peer over Mary’s shoulder for peek… love in the trusting eyes of a child… Love that stands against predators then and now, shielding them from the dangers of King Herod, or anyone who else who threatens you. Love that comes again and again, being born anew in those who wait… in those who believe.

And don’t get me started on waiting… “I just can’t wait!” We hear that all the time at our house lately. It’s so real: the anticipation, the excitement of Christmas. “Present check!!!” “Can’t I open just ONE? Please?” The nagging, the constant harping, the hoping that “I get what I want for Christmas.” When all we’ll ever need is right here… in the manger. In your heart.

Surely those who followed Jesus faced the same hopes and anticipations. From the moment he was born… all the way until John baptized Jesus and the dove came down from heaven: “This is my son, the Beloved, listen to him!” People knew there was something special about this kid.

“This is gonna be great!” they must’ve said. “Did you hear that? It’s God’s son!!! Just think what this means!” And yet, just like at Christmas when we are unhappy with “what we got” or disappointed because “it’s not what we expected,” so too, Jesus’ followers were put off. Let down. Disappointed. He wasn’t what they expected. And his dying on the cross represented the biggest, fattest lump of coal in their stocking they could have imagined! That’s why people wrap up the gift of God’s love / the gift of this church / the gift of sharing with a neighbor / and put it back under the tree!

Before you can give it you have to receive it. It has your name on it – this gift called LOVE. Can you hear it saying to you, “It’s okay, all is forgiven?” Can you feel it washing over you like waves from on high, wiping away the sin and shame of past mistakes? Can you feel it tugging on your shirtsleeve, telling you “It’s time – time to move on and take that next step?” Can you hear love saying, “You’re good enough, just as you are?”

I have a friend who’s a pastor, who once wrote: “I rest peaceful and secure that I don’t have to be good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, perfect enough or skinny enough. A slobbering infant born amongst the mingling smells of hay, animals and smelly shepherds loved me way more than enough to take care of all that. Go tell that on the mountain.”

Now, I know as well as you do that Christmas is more than massage therapy for the soul. We’re not here just to feel good about ourselves. Yes, all is forgiven and forgotten because of this child in the manger. Tomorrow IS a new day. And because of his dying on the cross and his rising from the grave – there is hope now, and in the world to come.

Unlike Santa Claus, Jesus knows if you’ve been bad or good and there’s no catch. He’d die for you all over again! He would!

That’s it.

What a gift! How could we NOT be Jesus’ Little helper this Christmas?
Get out there and show the love through kindness and mercy!
Show the love through your singing of the carols and the worship of our savior.
Show the love at work or at school, when you have a chance to brighten someone’s day.
Show the love in your prayers and your quiet time of devotion.
Show the love when you’re volunteering in our community.
Show the love by picking up your offering envelopes for 2011 and by committing to support this church financially (Lord knows, we need to shows some extra love in that department!). The pledges for this coming year are $50,000 behind where they were last year! These are tough economic times we’re in. And many people are worried whether or not they can make ends meet. Even so, let’s make sure the many ministries this church has to offer can continue through our financial support.

However you show the love, don’t leave that gift under the tree, to be packed up and brought out, same time next year.

Be the people of God by acting like it. When people meet you they see the love of Christ. Something brought you out in the cold on this Christmas Eve, to this place of worship. Do you see it? There’s a family resemblance. You ARE a Christmas gift to the world on behalf of the giver of himself, Jesus.

Give it away daily – through healing and peacemaking – building up and making amends – by bettering society and contributing to the common good – through helping the poor and tending to the sick and the dying.

This Christmas, let’s thank God for the gift of his only begotten son – then let’s be the kind of Jesus’ Little Helpers we were meant to be. There’s nothing to be ashamed of; and you never grow out of it!

Let us pray: O God, we thank you that you have blessed us with this most precious gift of all: the LOVE of your Son at Christmas. For all he was and is to be, back “in those days” and right here and now. Come, Lord Jesus, and make us your helpers, in your precious and holy name we pray. Amen.

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