Favored – Luke 2:1-20

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Thirty-four years ago Prince Charles gave Princes Diana a beautiful engagement ring. A 12-karat sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds. When she died in 1997, her son Prince Harry got the ring. Him and his brother, Prince William agreed that whomever married first would get the ring. So, twelve years after his mother’s death, prince William asked his brother for the ring back. He also approached the queen, as required by law, and ask for her blessing on the engagement. When all of that was done, Prince William flew Kate Middleton to Kenya, borrowed a helicopter and flew her to a remote, private spot on a lake nestled at the base of Mount Kenya, and asked her to marry him. As you know, the wedding was spectacular.

To see picture of them together, laughing, smiling, joking…it is a fairy tale romance, fit for a king.
What a very different story we tell tonight. Mary and Joseph…we are not even sure if they were married when Jesus was born. If they were, they’re newly married, traveling, not to a beautiful location like Kenya, but eighty miles to his home town. Their wedding, not even worth mentioning.

What kind of King would be born into this story?

Prince George, the first-born son of Prince William and Kate Middleton, was born in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital. This is a hospital that offers advanced care, state of the art facilities…This prince was born surrounded by a team of doctors, nurses, and midwives. “Special” patients that check into this hospital receive extra care…they stay in an extra-large, comfortable, room…new parents can send their little one to the nursery while they enjoy a full 4 coarse meal created by a private chef…it is an upscale sort of place. No expense was spared at the birth of this future king. The power of this child evident even in his birth story.

It is the story you would expect to hear at the birth of any king.

What a very different story we tell tonight. The birth of a King. Born not in an upscale hospital…this king was born in the left over space…after every bed in town was taken. No room for them in the inn, this king was born in a space fit only for the animals, I can’t image the smell. No comfortable hospital basinet for him, his crib a manger.

What kind of King would be born into this story?

I am thankful that Jesus was born into this story that kings aren’t usually born into. I am thankful that he does not hold before us a picture of perfection, I am thankful that our lives…bumpy, imperfect, real…beautiful are known to our king.

When I was 13 years old, one of the middle school staff walked into my classroom…looked at me, and said, “it’s time.” Being the very snotty 13-year-old I was, (sorry mom!) I looked at her like she was crazy. “Time for what?” It only took me a short breath or two to connect the dots…it’s time. My parents were waiting for me in the car. And we drove the 30 minutes from Buena Vista to the area’s hospital in Salida. Where, after a bit of monitoring, they decided it was not time, and the doctors sent us home.
It was only a few minutes after we got home when my mom walked into my room and said again…it’s time. This time, it really was time! My dad drove as fast as he could, while still being safe (sort of!). I think we only got stuck behind one car on the ride back to Salida…but that car was going extra slow, my dad flashing his lights, using words that I probably should not repeat from the pulpit, until we finally got around it and made our way to the hospital for the second time that day…My mom, the calm one in the whole thing, explained to the E.R. attendants that the wheel chair they brought her, would not work. They would need to bring her a gurney. Just a few minutes after getting her into the ER my baby brother was born. My happy, healthy, baby brother.

It’s not the story of the birth of a king.

He was not surrounded by doctors, we did not have a cozy room, or a personal chef. But it is our story, it is my brothers story…imperfect, bumpy, real…beautiful.

I wonder how often Jesus heard the story of his birth growing up? Did he know about the manger, and the shepherds? As a child did he understand that he was the kind of King that lived the imperfect, bumpy, real…beautiful parts of life?

In 2012 Ward Miles was born three-and-a-half months premature. He weighed less than a-pound-and-a-half, and it was hard to see him through the tubes, and wires, and tape holding it all on. His mom Lyndsey, with the help of a nurse, slowly picked him up for the first time…he was four days old. With the wires tubes and all, she holds him to her chest and then slowly, very slowly, the nurses holding the wires out of her way, sits in the chair behind her. Lyndsey’s husband is taking a video of the moment and she suddenly looks up at the camera and smiles. The smile of a frightened, young mother holding her baby for the very first time. The nurses tuck his little arms and legs under him, cover him with a tiny blanket, and her smile slowly turns to weeping as she leans her face into his tiny body. Pondering all that had happened, the joy of touching her baby’s skin, the relief that comes with finally holding him.

I wonder how often Mary held her child as he grew. How often time stopped and she simply pondered all that he was, all that she had heard about him, all that was promised. As a child did he experience those moments with his mom? Did he know he was the kind of King that was loved so deeply, so fully by his mother, picture perfect life…or not?

On July 22, 2013 there was a simple, formal customary bulletin announcing Prince Georges birth. Of course, there were also a press release, and many 21 gun salutes around the world in Bermuda, the UK, New Zealand, and Canada…Bells in churches rang across the word including the Westminster Abbey, buildings were lit up that evening…in blue to let the world know it was a boy.

A birth announcement heard ‘round the world. An announcement fit for a king.

What a very different story we tell tonight. In a dark field, not far from Bethlehem the skies opened up to angels and their music. The light breaking into the darkness. The birth of this king was not announced to the people in power, or the rulers of that day. The birth of this king was announced to shepherd’s living in a field; to outcasts; to some of the most despised people of their day.

What kind of king would be born into this story?

Carlos Whittaker, a singer and songwriter, along with his sound crew and his video crew, began to film a music video in a park in Atlanta. It was a cold, windy day, but it needed to be done. So, Carlos sat on a chair, picked up his guitar and started singing God of Second Chances. It was not long before a man wandered up to them. A stranger. He looked like he might be homeless, an outcast of our society. This man removes his hat, knees next to Carlos and begins weeping. As Carlos continues singing his song… “You’re the God of all the ages, who are we that you should save us, we’re in awe before you now, and our hearts are bowing down, and our hearts are crying out” As Carlos sings, another voice suddenly enters the song, the voice of the outcast, singing praises to God…one God, one Creator, yes and one father…

It was an imperfect, bumpy, real…beautiful moment. A moment that gives Glory to God. A moment that announces the presence of a king…

What kind of king would be born into this story?

 

 

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