Christmas 2012 – The Island of Misfit Toys

Sermon for the Eve of the Nativity of our Lord
Monday, December 24, 2012
Luke 2:1-20

One evening a few weeks ago, I was cleaning up some dishes after dinner, when I heard the door bell ring. I opened the door to find a well-dressed, nice-looking man. But I knew right away – he was a salesman.

And like all salesman do, he started his sales pitch. But he started off terribly wrong. The first thing he was to me was this: “Hi there, is your mom or dad home?”

After explaining that yes indeed, I was old enough to live on my own, this salesman continued his sales pitch, even though he knew he was dead in the water. Maybe, just maybe, I had him finish the whole pitch and then not buy anything because I wanted some payback.

But those salesman’s words were not his own. He borrowed them from our mean world. We try for something, and we are denied by the world’s categories: You’re too young. You’re too old. You’re not smart enough. You’re not rich enough. You didn’t vote the right way. You’re not the person I was expecting. We come face to face with the world, and the world says, “forget it!”

And then comes Christmas. The story of Christ’s birth is filled with people who are too young, too old, too poor, too something. If we were to choose a mother for the Savior of the world, we would choose someone who was well-connected, and stable, and educated. Someone who would make sure the child Jesus learns his shapes and colors and gets into the best private schools. Someone who would have given birth in a clean hospital with a well-trained staff of doctors, not in some dingy barn. If Mary had applied for the position of the mother of Jesus, we would have said, “forget it!” You’re too young. You’re too poor. You’re not educated.

But God takes our “forget it!” and turns it into a “yes!” The God who made us, doesn’t care about the categories we make.

And the Christmas story continues. The first people who hear of the birth of Jesus are shepherds. That’s right – poor, stinky, uneducated ranchers who sleep under the stars with their flocks; the migrant laborers of their day. If we were to choose the first people to spread the good news that the Savior was born, we would choose the most eloquent speaker. The most trusted public figure. We would choose someone who could write a believable story about the birth of Jesus, someone who would make sure the good news was all over Facebook and Twitter. If we were choosing the first people to tell of our Lord’s birth, we would have told the shepherds they were too smelly, too poor, that they weren’t trusted enough in the community. “Forget it!” we couldn’t trust the shepherds with telling the world about something so wonderful.

But God takes our “forget it!” and turns it into a “yes!” The God who made us, doesn’t care about the categories we make.

And the Christmas story continues to today. We are the people who have been entrusted with the good news of Jesus’ birth. The Church of God is responsible for living up to and living out the message of Jesus. That’s right – us. Poor, fragile, broken, messed up us. Us – young, old, sinners, hypocrites. Single, married, divorced, wealthy, bankrupt. If they were taking applications for people to be followers of Jesus, we would never be chosen. The world says “forget it!” you’re not good enough. You’re not nice enough. You’re too old. You’re too young. You’re too…..something.Misfit Toys

But I stand here this evening with good news of great joy. God made you as you are. God has no categories for his love. God didn’t create old and young, poor and rich, Aggie or Longhorn. God created the whole world with only one category – beloved children of God. That is who you are. At your very core, regardless of everything else, you are a beloved child of God.

And tonight we remember that good news of great joy – that God stepped into this world of ours to tell us that we are his children. Jesus came to show us that we are loved, uncategorically.

Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you cannot be a disciple of Jesus. If you have never been to college, or if you have a Ph.D; if you have a million dollars in the bank, or if you’re living on food stamps; married, divorced, remarried, single; God loves you. You say “forget it! I could never be a good Christian” And God says “yes you can, because I first loved you.”

Tonight is the night that God reminds us that we are never “too” anything. Well, with only one exception. We are “too” loved by God to care about the world’s categories.

Behold, I bring you good news of great joy for all people! To us is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. We are too loved to worry about anything else. We are old, we are young, we are poor, we are rich, we are something. But above all, we are loved by Jesus.


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