This image, "Intimacy," is by Karl Fay. Used with permission in my Christmas Eve sermon, 2020.
Christmas 2020 feels like this:
There is a house with all your loved ones inside. Every light is turned on. It’s warm. Kids are playing Uno. Adults are playing Pictionary and telling jokes. Prime rib for dinner. Little cocktail shrimp. Apple and pecan pie for dessert. There is laughing. Storytelling. Hugging.
But you are outside. Looking in through a window. Missing out, left out, and left behind.
An old widow wanders Target on Christmas Eve. She’s not buying anything. She’s walking down the cat litter aisle just because she wants to see people. She’s left out.
A teenager is quarantined at home. She sees pictures on Instagram. Every friend is smiling and blowing kisses at the camera. Everyone has someone, but she’s left out.
A old man is trapped in his room. His family can only see him through the window. "The kids keep telling me how to use this damn iPhone." He’s a retired electrician. He provided for his family with these hands. Now all he can do is place them up against the glass. He’s left out.
A young woman scribbles a plea in a journal: “Does anyone see me? Who will be there for me? Who will stay with me? I’m on the outside.”
Jesus of Nazareth was an outsider. His young family was left out in the cold. There was no inn, so they sheltered in place and their shelter was a barn. Jesus was born an outsider to an unwed teenage mother and a scared dad. As an infant, the king wanted to murder him, so they fled to Egypt, outsiders in a foreign land.
Jesus was always outside the establishment, outside the box. In the end he died outside the city of Jerusalem on a hill called The Skull. His friend John wrote this about Jesus: “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:10) He came “in,” but the world wanted him “out.” Jesus was an outsider, and still is today.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) There is no religion in the world where God literally comes IN, binds himself to his creation in such a way. Puts on flesh, bone, and blood
The God of eternity came IN time.
The God who is everywhere came IN to a particular space and place.
He did not run away or give up on us.
He was not repulsed by us.
God ran into the burning building and into the heap of rubble.
The baby in the manger. The blood on the cross. It was all for you, so that you could be IN.
Jesus is the God of the outsider, the left out, and the left behind. Christmas 2020 is a call to everyone who’s on the outside. All who are lost, weak, and weary.
Come to Him.
Call his name.
Listen to his voice.
He says, “Come home. Come in.”
Jesus, my prayer this year is simple. Come in. The weary world is in desperate need of your presence. There’s someone I’m thinking of right now who needs you . . . Come in to their life that they may know that you are God. Come in. Amen.