|At His Birth, Christ Included an entire Spectrum of Guests|
sermons work together like bricks in a wall. They edify us (or build us up), but we don't notice the individual bricks much. Once in a while, there is a sermon that we hear and we remember many, many years later. This Christmas, I'd like to reflect on one such sermon.
One Sunday morning more than two decades ago, the Pastor* asked the Congregation, "What do you suppose is the most Un-Christian word in the English language?" Many, many words popped to mind, but I was surprised at the answer the Pastor supplied.
He said the most Un-Christian word in English is:
Are you ready?
The Most Un-Christian word in the English Language is . . .
Think about it. We have "Exclusive" parties where only the creme de la creme are invited. We go to "Exclusive" sales at posh stores. We join "Exclusive" social organizations (and even social media, nowadays!) that are "Invitation Only!" We attend "Exclusive" schools and universities - and even preschools!
What do all of these things have in common?
They appeal to our pride by excluding those who we see as "less than" we are.
But, when we look at the beauty of Christmas, what do we see?
We see the God of the Universe - who truly was the Best of the Best - who gave up all the "perks" of Power, Privilege and Position and instead - out of sheer LOVE - came and chose to spend time with us! We, who along with St. Paul, are the worst of sinners!
Even the Wise Men, Kings and Angels who attended His Birth were far below Him!
But, He didn't just invite them! He also invited the poor, and those with no status in society - like the Shepherds. Even His own earthly Parents, though Holy, were poor.
He commended the virtues of the poor throughout His life. (see The Widow's Mite and the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus for example)
More importantly, He commanded us to include the poor and underprivileged.
When I go to Church at Christmas, of all the Mysteries I ponder, the one that always amazes me most is that such a Perfect God wanted to come to earth to be with me!
This Christmas season, let's imitate Christ's Love and include those who aren't eligible for "Exclusive" offers in the circle of our Love & relationships.
*This is my recollection of a sermon given by the Rev. Karl Suhr of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Atlanta Georgia. Pastor Suhr made a very positive impression on me with his kindness, humility and compassion, as well as with this memorable sermon, despite the fact that I only lived in Atlanta briefly. As with any memories of this duration, I cannot guarantee that my recollection is an accurate portrayal of what he actually said, but I do want to give him credit for what I took away from the sermon.