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Transformers, Dec. 13, 2015

Sermon: “Transformers”
Luke 2: 4-7

Do you ever wonder how things really happen?

I love the show “How IT’s Made” on TV-
Things I take for granted ..
Like when I open this box, there will be crayons in it?
How are they made?
How do we know ‘red’ will always be ‘red’ in it?

The one on pencils was really fascinating?
Beginning with the discovery of lead, but
How do you get it in the middle of the wood?
Who figured out lead could write.

And who decided to make a show telling us the answers?
Who made the cameras? Who wrote the script?
Imagine the details involved in even producing the program? Not to mention the details of the TV I’m watching it on or the REMOTE I’m controlling to flip between that and Antique Road Show.

So, let me invite you to a few, that have transformative power.
Mysteries if you will, that could transform us from a piece of lead to a tool that might change our stories. . . or at least help us write them.

Much of what we believe might not be true:

How many wise magi were there? (3?) That’s just not in the story. It is in the story that gifts of gold, frankinsense and myrrh were taken as gifts – but never that only three wise men were sent.

This whole innkeeper thing, where they knock on the door, the innkeeper says “We’re full.” Then suddenly the innkeeper remembers he has a barn in the back and the next thing you know baby Jesus is born, with cattle mooing, doves sitting in the rafters, and swaddling clothes wrapped around him.

It is all created through the retelling of the story, that simply says there was no room at the inn, and they laid him in a manger.

Our history, our hymnology, our retelling of the story has created this lovely, lovely pastoral scene .. but the truth is we don’t know all that. We have made assumptions based on two words: “Manger” and “No room”.. and in some versions “swaddling clothes” –

But in the doing of that, we may have left out how this miracle baby really had a place:

Either Joseph ‘swattered’ that night and found an empty spot for his son to be born or

Someone (maybe the innkeeper, but maybe not) offered their barn – which is probably a cave like place more than a barn and made room for this woman to have our baby Jesus.

Moments that change history, moments that change our life, moments that create new stories – new twists and turns – often are happen in secret – where people just offer what they have and stories are transformed.
Sometimes I think what has driven the Christian tradition of our inflated nativity story, is that we are more comfortable with its miracles than being confronted with the grown up Jesus’s master teachings.

Do not misunderstand me: I love this story.
But we miss a core teaching of it, if we choose to ignore its suttle mysteries.

What if Mary had said, “Not me God.”
What if Joseph had put away Mary.
What if there had been room at the inn, perhaps the executive suite on the top floor overlooking all of Bethlehem.

The reason this story comes to us in this form is because it was important for folks to understand God in new ways:

God will be birthed from our poverty, not our power.
Where are we most vulnerable? God is there.
Where are we most fearful? God is there.
Where are we most inquisitive? God is there.

Where are we in our own stories? God is there.

God will be birthed from our willingness, not our rightness.
Where are we willing to carry this Christ we claim.
Where are we willing to create this love in which we believe.
Where are we working to know God’s will within us.

Elizabeth only had the power to listen to her friend Mary.
Joseph only had the power to care and provide for Mary.
Mary only had the power to carry this unborn baby.

We are not ask to do what cannot be done.
We are called to do what God can do, through us.

About seventy years ago, a model of church was created.
In American it was a combination of the Catholic hierarchy and the blend of American individualism and Americans need for order.

In the fifties, it moved to a more corporate model.
We built Sunday School buildings, so we could teach God.
We created corporate structures of councils and boards.

In the sixities, we began to play with the SPIRIT a bit.
We sang Pass It On, we sent our kids to camp.
Movements such as Lay Witness movements, Emmanus walks –
Focusing on individual spirituality emerged.

In the nineties, we began to apply a new model but still based on a business model.

We began to make mission statement, then vision statements.
We reformed committees, and made them have measureable objectives. In desperate attempts, out of deep loves, we have tried to save the church organization.

None of this is bad.
But we must understand that always, we are to inform the culture, not be conformed to the culture.

The culture’s Messiah would have cme as King and taken power.

Our Messiah comes in humility and works within a tradition, in ways that transform it forever.

Our Messiah comes in servanthood and works to help others.
Our Messiah comes with new wisdom and works to change old controlling systems of how things could be.

Our task today, as a church family is not to minimize this story, but to increase it – by putting it into practice and transforming our life together.

The question is really quite simple, will you an I make room in our lives for our life together.

Will you and I make room to talk with each other about important things?

Will you and I make room to listen for the angels God is sending us?

Will you and I make room so God might use us to birth new light into our own lives, our own homes, but also this world in which we live.

To transform, we must be transformed.

How is it made? How does it happen?
Listen to this story – one more time:
Listen to the angels – listen to God speaking to you.
Listen to each other – tell them “I’m pregnant”- God is working within me.
Listen to the world = find your place to be reborn.

Amen.