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Starry Night Homily - Rejoice

August 11, 2016

Today we rejoice and are merry because of what God has done for us, for what God has given us…

 

The familiar words “For unto us a child is born and a son given,” first came from the prophet Isaiah during a time of great turmoil.  The once powerful and unified Kingdom of Israel had been split between the north and the south, and the northern kingdom had recently fallen to the Assyrian empire.

 

Judah remained the sole conduit of the promises that God had made to Abraham over 1000 years earlier, that God would use Abraham’s descendants to bless the whole world…  

 

Then the unthinkable happened: Babylon.

 

The Babylonian Empire defeated Judah, sacked Jerusalem, and destroyed the temple of God.

 

The people were rounded up and led away as prisoners to Babylon.  

 

Psalm 137 recalls the pain of those in exile tormented by their captors who mocked the prisoners’ God and their faith. The Babylonians demanded that the Jews sing their songs of worship to Yahweh, the God of the Exodus, the God who liberates people…

 

The text says “by the rivers of Babylon we hung up our harps, how can we sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land?”  

 

It was here in Babylon that the people began to remember their story, and the story of the Exodus… The Jews worshiped a God who liberates slaves, maybe that God wasn’t done with them, maybe there would be another exodus, and as they began to dream of this new exodus something amazing happened… the story began to grow…

 

The story that was once about one man and one family is expanded to include all of the cosmos!

 

The coming exodus would be for all people, and it would be bigger than the first one, not just economic or political. This exodus would involve all aspects of being human, this exodus would change everything!

 

And today we declare that this cosmic exodus has begun with God breaking into human history 2000 years ago in a stable in Bethlehem.

 

The fact of the matter is that Jesus’ entrance into ANYTHING is always revolutionary.

 

Jesus changes everything.

 

Anywhere He shows up, reality twists--things change.

This world and the world as God desires it--they get closer. The barrier between them becomes thin in the presence of Christ.

 

Jesus is constantly at work recreating the world, reconciling the separated, repairing the broken, tearing down injustice, and making all things new.

 

What is this new thing that Jesus is doing in the world? We call it “The Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom is present all around us for “those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear.”

 

To be a Christian is to join Jesus in this work and to recognize that the Kingdom has been awakened inside of us. It has changed everything: the way we think, the way we speak, even the way we understand the world, and the story God is telling about it…

 

EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED! And it’s all because of Jesus; the One who declares “I make all things new” is speaking newness, love, life, hope, and freedom into the world.

 

This is what Christmas is all about!

 

This is the source of our Hope.                                                                                     This is the source of our Love.                                                                                       This is the source of our Peace,                                                                                     and this is the source of our Joy.

 

Amen.

 

-Jeremy Hall

 

December 2015

 

 

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