Inviting God In

Matthew 1:18-24 Let’s talk about having people over. Personally, I love having people over to our house.  I’m a social creature by nature.  My definition of “me time” is one-on-one time with a good friend.  If we have a Saturday with nothing on our family calendar, I’m perfectly content to make breakfast and piddle around the house… until about mid-afternoon, when I’m pacing around like a caged animal, wondering who can play with us.  I’m like a golden retriever or something:  if you really want to keep me happy and healthy, I need to be regularly socialized. So naturally, I love having people over! But in reality:  we don’t have people over as often as we could.  You know why? It’s a lot of work to have people over. Especially new people.  When new people come over – for reasons I cannot completely explain – I feel compelled to do cleaning that seldom otherwise happens.  Base boards must be dusted and the inside of the microwave should be scrubbed and the rugs are due to be washed and why do all our hand towels look like old rags? As much as I love having people over, we don’t do it as often as we could because that first time is just so much work. But oh, thank God for old friends! Sweet, sweet old friends who have seen my house plenty of times before.  They know that it can pass the white glove test – but they also know no one lives like that all the time, myself included.  They’ve dropped by at a moment’s notice and seen my home in its everyday potpourri...
An Explicit Welcome

An Explicit Welcome

Luke 2:1-20 On Sunday we had our children’s Christmas play, where they reminded us of a very important Christmas message: All are welcome at the manger. All, meaning everyone. I hope this isn’t the first time you’ve heard that message. You might know John 3:16 by heart: “God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his only begotten son…” Not that God loved a certain people in a certain place – but the whole world! Christ was born for everyone. Everyone should feel welcome at his manger! Everyone should – but not everyone does. — Too often, the world is like a high school lunchroom. I can clearly remember what it felt like to walk through the heavy double doors. I can hear the loud rumble of teenagers talking and trays banging and adults trying to maintain control. I remember what it felt like to stand there, wondering where to go. Sometimes, my best buddy and I got the same lunch hour. I’d go straight to “our” table and slide into the booth across from her. Isn’t it great to have a place where you know you belong? But there were semesters where we had different lunches. I got along with a bunch of other students, but I wasn’t sure if we were really friends-friends. Would they think it was weird if I walked up to their table? Would they want me to sit with them? Or would I be turned away Forrest-Gump-on-the-bus style: “Seat’s taken”? I’d stand in the lunchroom doorway with the social clock ticking, rapidly scanning the faces for a friendly one. A lot of times,...
Invitation

Invitation

Luke 3:1-6 I love getting wedding invitations in the mail. I can tell something’s up before I even open the card:  the paper is heavier than normal; the address is in a careful calligraphy; the titles are of an Emily-Post-approved formality.  Everything about it says, “This is no regular piece of correspondence; this is something special.” Then I slip my thumb under the seal and open the flap to find… another envelope!  This one has our first names on it, as if we made it past security and now we can let our hair down and have some fun.  And then, the details are revealed.  Oh, the details!  When and where for the ceremony, when and where for the reception, and juicy little tidbits like, “Black tie optional.” The happy couple did a lot of work to get that invitation to me.  Now that it’s in my hands, it’s my turn!  Preparations need to be made.  I need to find the right dress – if it’s not in my closet, it’s at a storefront, somewhere!  We might need hotel reservations or a babysitter; we certainly need to send a gift. An invitation to a really special event demands a response from us – not just an RSVP, but all the things we need to do to get ready. If this is true for a wedding… it’s certainly true for the coming of Christ. Jesus’ arrival was so special, it was someone’s full time job to make the announcement.  That living invitation was John the Baptist, born for the express purpose of making the path to Jesus straight and obvious. ...