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The First Congregational Church, Columbus Ohio
Sunday, December 25, 2005
A sermon delivered by The Rev. Timothy Ahrens

Dedicated to Arlene Reynolds and all who have brought Christmas Alive through Bethlehem on Broad Street (BOBS) for the past 20 years and always to the glory of God!
God With Us
Luke 2:1-20

Once upon a time, God had a plan for Creation. God made a world filled with blue whales, elephants, and even skunks and rattlesnakes. There were fish of every kind, birds flying everywhere and creatures walking and crawling upon the earth - great and small - all of which filled the entire globe that God created. God was really pleased. But, something was missing. God couldn't quite figure it out at first, but slowly it dawned on the Universe's Creator that what was missing was a man and a woman. With humans as partners - thinking, speaking, naming and claiming the earth - God seemed confident that all would be well. And God fell in love with the humans that God created.

While the birds were always crazy about God and kept singing to please God, and all the other creatures couldn't do enough to thank God for the Immense Universe of love which God had created, the humans kept breaking God's heart. They were independent and seemed to defy God at every opportunity. They disobeyed God. They stole things from God and one another. They lied about their lives. They killed each other. In fact, the more they learned to do for themselves the less they depended on God. God wanted to get the humans' attention, but they didn't seem quite as interested in walking with, talking with, laughing with and loving God as God did in them.

In fact, most humans forgot about God. They called themselves "self-made" men and women. They acted like they had created themselves. Many of those who still believed in God drew pictures they said were of God, but really looked like them. In fact, they formed religions to say "we understand God." They formed armies to force others to yield to their way and understanding of God.

God became more and more desperate as people became more and more vile and hateful. God had given them hearts and brains. God had set them free and now their freedom was out of control. God screamed and shouted and even got inside people's dreams and visions to get their attention. God sent floods and famines; messengers and manna - all intended to get the humans' attention. But, no matter how God tried everything seemed to come up short. Things spun further and further out of control.

Finally, while wondering what future could beset this hardheaded human-natured collective, God heard a baby cry. Of course! Why not? God would send a baby to get their attention. A baby could save them! Babies didn't kill or go to war. Babies never made hate speeches or set one family member against another. Babies never used phrases like "Self-made" babies. So, God created a delightful, regular baby boy. Not only that, God's baby came through a high risk birth - born to a young woman and an older man, in an isolated village in a barn in Palestine. But, this `high risk" birth was also a way for God to show everyone that God was willing to risk everything for humanity.

God instructed the Archangels and angels to sing to common shepherds about the new baby. God sent a star to direct stately kings to the place of the baby's birth. God chose a special name for this special child. His name was "Emmanuel" which means "God with us." And so it was that God came to be with us in this high risk birth.

God risked everything for you and me. In time, the baby grew up and taught us how to live and to love. In time, God with US even gave his life For Us!

Do you "get it?" Are you listening? God's plan for us and for our salvation comes in the voice and the presence of a newborn baby. Listen and you will hear the baby's cry. God is still with us. Wake up - people of God! God is still with us. Amen.

This story was inspired by Barbara Brown Taylor's The Great Plan.

Copyright 2005, The First Congregational Church