The Miracle of Creation
Christmas, December 25, 2011
When I was asked to deliver the message on December 25th, I thought, “Wow! Here’s my opportunity to debunk all the myths of the December 25th being the birthdate of Jesus."
Then I thought, This is Church, not Mythbusters."
In the studies I’ve undertaken over the past ten years I’ve really come to appreciate the Jesus story. What a story it is!
In trying to understand his story, I began with the Jewishness of Jesus and his family.
Since the two Gospels that mention the birth story, Matthew and Luke, were not eyewitness accounts, the writers had to connect the readers or more likely listeners to what they were relatively familiar with.
One of my favorite stories is the birth of Sampson; I was given Judges 13 to study and speak on in an OT class by Mary Cosby.
I like the Angels!
2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. 3 The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. 5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
6 Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.’
The Angel of the Lord appears time and time again in The Book, Psalm 34, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Hashem and Hashem delivers them”
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
I can imagine Mary a young Jewish Girl praying before she went to sleep
The Bedtime Shema is a collection of liturgical texts that Jews recite before going to sleep. It’s a prayer asking God to protect us and guard our souls. How? Through the holy watchers, God's angels, who walk through the night. Specifically, the text names four: "Michael to my right side, Gabriel to my left, Uriel before me, and Raphael to my back."
The prayer states, "Praised are You, Adonai our God, who rules the universe, bringing sleep to my eyes and slumber to my eyelids" (Berakhot 60b). It also asks God to protect the individual so that he or she may "lie down in peace and arrive in peace," hoping that the next day will bring new light, for God’s "glory gives light to the entire world.”
On one night in particular G-D sent the Angel Gabriel
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a maiden pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
With all that’s been written and said about Him I’m working not to get lost in the myths and legends and focus on the Good News.
Jesus’s message to me is:
God is the source of life and light and joy to the Universe. Like rays of light from the sun, like streams of water bursting from a living spring, blessings flow out from Hashem to all His creation, wherever the life of God is in the hearts of people. It will flow out to others in love and blessings.
Jesus joy was in the uplifting and redemption of humanity. For this He counted not his life dear to himself but endured the cross despising the shame. Angels are ever engaged in working for the happiness of others; this is their joy. The spirit of Jesus self-sacrificing love is the spirit that pervades heaven and is the essence of its bliss. This is spirit that Jesus followers will possess, the work that we will do.
When the love of Jesus is in the heart, like sweet fragrance, it cannot be hidden. Love to Jesus will be manifested in a desire to work as He worked.
Those who receive God’s Grace will be ready to make any sacrifice that others may share the heavenly gift. We will do all we can to make the world better for our stay in it. No sooner does one meet Jesus than there is born in our hearts a desire to say what a friend we’ve found in Jesus.
When Phillip meets Jesus he invited others into his presence. There will be an intensity of desire to follow in the path the path of Jesus. And the effort to bless others will react in blessings upon us. This is the purpose of God in giving us a part to act in the plan of redemption. God has granted us the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature and in turn defusing blessings to all creation.
This is the highest honor, the greatest joy that is possible for God to bestow upon us. Those of us who become participants in the labors of love are brought nearest to our Creator.