December 18, 2008

A variation of the Christmas Story.

It has now been over a year since our original pastor (he was the founding pastor of our church) has left. And while I can praise God because He has not left our church as orphans, giving us a wonderful interim pastor to lead us through the pain of separation and to help our church heal, I want to honor our former pastor for all the wonderful ways he made God's word real and relevant to us. In his honor, I would like to offer a version of the Christmas story if it had happened in America this year, rather than two thousand years ago in Isreal.

If the Christmas story took place now instead of 2,000 years ago, Joseph, a carpenter, would have been out of work for a while because the construction business is so bad. He and his fiancee, Mary, who was pregnant, would have been kicked out of their house which was in foreclosure because he could no longer meet his mortgage payments. Because Mary is pregnant, though she vowed it was God's doing and not a result of fooling around too soon, neither Mary nor Joe's parents are speaking to them. After all, they lost standing in their church because of the embarrasement of an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, the young couple have no where to go for shelter. As the time comes for Mary to give birth, Joseph searches all the homeless shelters in the area hoping to provide at least a warm place for Mary to give birth. Finally, as her labor pains worsen, they go to the emergency room, where the baby is born in a hallway because all the rooms are filled with poor people without insurance who need medical attention. A doctor is there, briefly, to make sure the baby comes out all right, but he has many other patients to see and soon, the young family is alone in the hallway, except for the rest of the overflow patients. Mary and the baby sleep. Joseph thanks God for His provision.

A few miles away, a bunch of divorce and malpractice suit lawyers, insurance salesmen and web spammers are in a bar, celebrating the cold, snowy weather because it usually means more business for them. Suddenly the roof of the bar is lifted up and a huge creature flowing with light enters. Most of them drop their drinks and wet their pants, thinking that the latest horror movie, "Freddy vs. Predator" is coming true. Instead, the creature speaks gently to them of peace and joy and hope that God has planned for all men and tells them of a baby born in a hospital nearby. Suddenly, the bar is filled and even overflowing with heavenly creatures all singing God's praises. Angels as far and as high as they can see singing such heavenly music that their hearts grow three sizes that day. When the angels finish singing the song, they suddenly vanish, putting the roof back in its place. The entire bar population stares in slack-jawed wonder as their eyes adjust to the darkness and, as one, rush out into the night to search for their new friends. The only testimony of the angel's presence is a brilliant star that outshines the city lights. They all pull out their organizers to find the location of the hospital and rush off, trying to be the first one to see this new baby. All thoughts of business have been replaced by the hope of finding peace.

Meanwhile, in smoke filled government offices, several men take a break from making political deals and happen to look outside the window. They notice a single, solitary star, overwhelming the bright lights of flashing billboards, skyscrapers and spotlights beckoning people to stores with the promise of fulfilling their desires. The "break out group" suddenly rush out of the room, certain that the star will fulfill the promise that the man-made lights cannot. They stop at home briefly enough to search out and bring with them their most precious possessions as an offering of joy. They are soon joined by former political rivals and disgraced political leaders on both sides of the political fight--Rod Blagojevich, Ted Stevens, George Ryan, Elliot Spitzer, to name a few. They walk, keeping the star in sight, until they see its light touching a broken down hospital. They stand for a moment, wondering what makes this place so special. Suddenly, a rush of well dressed men and women pour out of the building, each taking the hand of the huddle of men and women, saying "The real leader is inside. He will be the one who gives us peace. He is the hope of the world! Inside, you will find a mother and her child. That child is the King of Kings and he is the one who can make us right with God. " They then scatter, shouting the good news to anyone who will listen, pointing to the hospital. The political lackeys waste no time in seeking the baby. They suddenly realize the futility of all their planning and their quest for power. When they see the baby, they are overwhelmed with awe. Somehow, the child simultaneously appears totally pure, totally helpless, and yet imbued with power and wisdom. As each man and woman lays down his or her gift, they suddenly remember all the wrong things they have down in their power-hungry madness, all the family problems they could have mended, all the friends they have abandoned. They weep as they kneel before the baby, knowing that they are totally and completely incapable of serving this new little king. The baby smiles and reaches out to them, and suddenly, they look up in wonder and joy, feeling the weight of their sins lifting off their shoulders. Power struggles forgotten, they walk out prepared to serve Immanuel.

This is not necessarily a new idea, so my apologies for anyone I have inadvertently plagerized. It is a melding of sermons from my former pastor, skits performed in our church, sermons I hear on WMBI. It also was initiated by a short video I am including in this blog.

This particular story idea was the result of my thought regarding the most recent spate of political scandals, economic distress, and crime that try to overwhelm the God's promise of hope offered during the Christmas season.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Isreal

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