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Sermon for Christmas Eve/Day Yr C, 2003

 

Sermon for Christmas Eve/Day Yr C, 2003

Based on Isa 52:7

Grace Lutheran Church, Medicine Hat, AB

By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson

 

Way back in about 539 B.C., ancient Babylon fell to the armies of King Cyrus of Persia. Then, around three years later, Cyrus issued and Edict, which permitted the exiles in Babylon to return back home to Judah and Jerusalem. In this world situation, the prophet Second Isaiah wrote the following words of hope, joy, and great promise. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Just whose feet are we speaking of here, anyways? And why does the prophet limit the person’s beauty to only their feet?

  

Well, as Christians, we believe this to be a prophecy referring to Jesus our Messiah. Just as the original hearers of this message were given hope, joy, and the promise of returning from exile to their homeland, Judah, to restore and rebuild their nation again—so we too are given hope, joy, and the promise that Jesus our Messiah has come to free us from the exilic powers of sin, evil, and death. One day, Jesus our King will lead us, like ancient Judah, out of exile into our eternal homeland of heaven. There all of our hopes and joys shall be complete, and we shall live in eternal security and peace. Just as God acted through the events of history to put back together, free and restore the people of Judah—so God acts for us too and puts back together our world when we feel like it’s fallen apart. And so, there is a special blessing and beauty for the person’s feet who brings Good News of peace and salvation. A peace and salvation that far surpasses the proposed Geneva Accords or any other peace plan of this world. So blessed be the beautiful feet of Jesus our Messiah who brings us peace and salvation that will last forever!

 

   The story is told of a pastor in India who, after preaching his sermon, had the audience come to him and, as they greeted him, they asked if they could kiss the pastor’s feet. The pastor was rather surprised at this request. Apparently, it had become the established tradition for the pastors to preach in bare feet as a symbol of servanthood. When the people kissed the pastor’s feet, it was a symbol of them accepting and receiving the Lord’s message and messenger. 1

  

So it is that we too can bow at Jesus’ feet on this very special night, this holy night to worship our Saviour and celebrate his birth; to give thanks to God for his beautiful feet; which guide us and help us walk in the path of righteousness; which help us to be messengers to a world falling apart; pointing the way to peace eternal.

  

The following heart-warming story is a fine example of how we can point others to Christ and his beautiful feet, and the peace that he offers us; which helps us appreciate anew the true spirit of Christmas.

  

The spirit of the season hadn't caught up with a man, even though cars packed the parking lot of the Target Shopping Center. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Why did the man come today? His feet ached almost as much as his head. His list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing, but he knew their feelings would be hurt if he didn't buy them anything. Between the difficulty of choosing a gift for someone who had everything and the high cost of certain items, he considered gift-giving anything but fun. Hurriedly, he filled his shopping cart with last minute selections and proceeded to the long checkout lines. He picked the shortest, but it still looked as if it would be at least a 20 minute wait. In front of him were two small children--a boy of about 10 and a younger girl about 5. The boy wore a ragged coat with enormously large tattered tennis shoes which jutted far out from in front of his much-too-short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands. The girl's clothing resembled her brother's. Her head was a matted mass of curly hair and reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny gold house slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store's sound system, the girl hummed along off-key but happily. When they finally approached the checkout register, the girl carefully placed the slippers on the counter. She treated them as though they were a treasure. The clerk rang up the bill. "That will be $6.09," she said. The boy laid his crumpled bills on top of the counter while he searched his pockets. He finally came up with $3.12. "I guess we will have to put them back," he said bravely. "We will come back some other time, maybe tomorrow." With that statement, a soft sob broke from the little girl. "But Jesus would have loved these shoes," she cried. "Well, we'll go home and work some more," her brother said as he attempted to reassure his sister. "Don't cry. We'll come back," he added. Quickly, the man handed three one dollar bills to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time. And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around the man and small voice said, "Thank you, sir." The man asked the little girl, "What did you mean when you said, 'Jesus would like the shoes?'" The boy answered, "Our mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus." Then the little girl spoke, "My Sunday school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these slippers. Won't mommy be beautiful walking on those streets with these gold slippers?" The man’s eyes flooded as he looked into her tear streaked face. "Yes," he answered, "I'm sure she will." 2

  

It is in taking the time to share our love and kindness with others—especially those in need—that the Christ child is born anew in our world, in our hearts, in our lives at Christmas and throughout the year. It is in sharing our love and kindness in small practical ways like the man in the story that we point others to Christ’s eternal peace. It is in walking in his way of peace that our feet, like his become beautiful; as we share the Good News message of Christmas that God loves and comes in the person of Jesus to save us all. Amen.

____________

 1 I am indebted and grateful to my friend and colleague, the Rev. Dr. Gary Watts for this anecdote.

2 Cited from: “Golden Shoes for Jesus,” by Helga Schmidt, in Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery and Nancy Mitchell. (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 1997) pp. 56-58.

 

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