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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day 25: Christmas Eve

Here we are...at the end of our Advent journey. My advent candle is all gone now and we are ready to celebrate the birth of Christ. I'm including here a portion of the sermon I will give at our service this evening. My theme for tonight is how God took ordinary people like Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah along with the innkeeper and the shepherds and used them to accomplish extraordinary things because they were willing to follow God's lead. I hope the same can be true for you. We are so happy to celebrate with our church but we miss our loved ones who aren't here among us. We are blessed by the joy that we feel this Christmas and hope the same will be true for you. Here's to finding the extraordinary in the midst of our ordinary lives because we love and serve an extraordinary God.

Friends, what made the folks in the original Christmas story extraordinary had nothing to do with their social status or prior accomplishments. To the contrary, it was their willingness to do something risky and unknown, totally out of step with their ordinary routines. In other words, their yes to God, their quiet, humble acts of obedience led them to a place of honor as the greatest event in the history of life was unfolding right before their very eyes. Their ordinary lives had become extraordinary because of what God was doing in their midst.

This Christmas, are you feeling a bit down? Are you wondering what your imprint on this world might be? Do you hunger after being extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary course of human events? Then say yes. Say yes, Lord, use little ordinary me to accomplish your extraordinary will in my life and in the world around me. Because dear friends, in words of Henri Nouwen, “Christmas is saying yes to something beyond all emotion and feeling. Christmas is saying yes to a hope based on God’s initiative which has nothing to do with what I think or feel. Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine.”

Extraordinary, isn’t it? That God loved us so much that he showed us his great love through the birth of his son in a stable filled with hay surrounded by lowly yet faithful ordinary people. Perhaps even more extraordinary is that he wants to use the ordinary people gathered here tonight to keep telling the story of Jesus and the good news of a great joy that is availed to us all. So say yes. Say yes to whatever God is up to in your life and in our world. In doing so, your ordinary life will never be same.

May the warmth, the hope and the blessing of the Christ Child take root in your life and bring you peace and joy this Christmas. Amen.