It was a dark time in a dark world. Mary and Joseph were on the road to pay taxes to a puppet king in an occupied territory. The road was long, and being with child made the road especially difficult. And to make things more difficult, when it was time for the baby to be born, they discovered that there was no room in the inn.
There is no room. There is no place. There is no way. There is no hope.
But, as God had proved over and over throughout history, from the covenant of Abraham through the great Exodus to the prophets in exile, there is nothing that can separate the world from God’s love. For God, once again, showed up! In spite of every demonic power that tried to thwart God’s coming, God came.
And the good news of Christmas is that God still comes. And there is nothing in all of creation, nor things above nor below, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor life nor death that can stop God from coming.
A church once presented a Christmas play. You know the kind. Three boys playing shepherds are carrying long sticks wearing bath robes with towels wrapped around their heads. And three more boys playing wise men wearing cardboard Burger-King crowns wrapped in Reynolds Wrap are carrying boxes decorated with left-over Christmas garland. They all walk up on the chancel, greet Mary and Joseph, and bow down before the baby Jesus.
During this particular play, a spokesperson for the wise men made the announcement: “We three kings have traveled from the East to bring the baby Jesus gifts of gold, circumstance and mud.”
Of course, laughter filled the sanctuary. But you know what they say: “out of the mouths of babes.”
Through Christ, God came to Mary and Joseph and God comes to us in the circumstance of being told there is no room for you, there is no place for you, there is no way for you, and there is no hope for you, and emphatically says, “Oh, yes there is!”
The good news of Christmas is that God comes to us in all of our circumstances with the assurance that there is no circumstance on earth or in heaven that is beyond God’s amazing grace.
And coming as a human being, coming into the world as a fleshly body, a body made up of dust and water, God comes and joins us in our mud.
Through Christ, God came and still comes into our muck of pain and sickness and offers comfort and healing.
Through Christ, God came and still comes into our muck of loneliness and fear and shares divine presence and a peace beyond understanding.
The world says that there is no room, that things are not going to get any better. The world says there is no way, that the good old days are long gone. The world says that there is no place where evil will not get the best of you. The world says there is no hope because in the end, everyone dies.
Then a young woman named Mary goes into labor as God says: “I am always working all things together for the good!”
The child cries in the night as God says: “Although you cannot go back to the good old days, good new days are dawning, even if you are about to draw your last breath!”
The world says: “There is no room. You will never amount to anything.”
The world says: “There is no way. Sin will always get the best of you.”
The world says: “There is no place for you. Nobody really cares about you.”
The world says: “For you, there is no room, no way, no place, no hope.”
Then a baby is wrapped in bands of cloth born to underserving, unwed teenagers in an occupied land, as God says: “I love you just as you are, and I come to wrap you in my mercy, clothe you with my grace. I know your sins and I forgive you. I will always be with you and never away from you. I will always be for you and never against you. I will always stay by your side fighting for you, even if it means dying for you.”
The world says: “There is no way this country will ever come together. Racism will never end. Hate will never cease. Railroad tracks will always divide. There is no room for compromise. There is no place for reconciliation. There is no hope for unity.”
Then a brown-skinned baby’s birth to a Hebrew woman is announced by angels: “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. For you, all of you, a baby is born who is Christ the Lord and through him there is no longer Jew or gentile, slave or free, male or female for all are one.”
The good news of Christmas is although the world often seems dark, the light of God will not be diminished.
Although politics divide us, the good news that unites us will not suppressed.
Although the sound of violence is deafening, the Word of God will not be silenced.
Although the powerful will always try to oppress the weak, the justice of God will not be defeated.
Although tyrants rule with fear, the prince of peace will not be conquered.
Although hate seems to have its way, love will not die.
Although sin seems to get the best of us, grace will not fail.
Although despair seems to overwhelm, hope will not fade.
Although death seems to be final, the kingdom of God will reign forever and ever.
Hallelujah! Merry Christmas!