*photo above: Nolan Jones enjoying some time on stage after church one Sunday during Advent
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. —Titus 2.11
I believe Christ came for all.
Think about those who came to see the newborn child. Shepherds: these guys were the night-shift, minimum wage earners… they smelled like sheep, they hadn’t bathed in a while.
Then later you have the Magi. I mean… these guys are different. Certainly outsiders. Mystics. Star-gazers. Not exactly your typical church-goers.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, you see this same attraction… the outsiders were drawn to him. The misfits and weirdos. The outcasts. The sinners.
Yes, Jesus came for us all. I believe Christ went to the cross and took on himself the sins of the world.
And this is the Good News: we have been included.
And the angel said to them: Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2.10-11
Good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born… a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
We dream of a world where there is something for everyone.
A job. Healthcare. Food. Love. Family. Peace everywhere.
It seems like an impossible dream. Like, not in this world… but maybe in some other place, in a galaxy far, far away.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have healthcare for all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have housing for all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have peace for all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have food for all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have family for all.
But we easily dismiss these concepts as unrealistic. Beyond our reach. Fantasy. Something our world will never provide.
So when we start talking about God’s love for all, God’s gift of salvation for all, Christ’s arrival for all, and a table that welcomes all…
Well, it’s easy to once again dismiss the notion as wishful thinking. A fantasy. Just some pipe dream.
Think about Easter with me for just a minute…
We hide eggs, we hide baskets. It’s a game. You gotta go find ‘em. You snooze, you lose.
My father in law hid them on the roof of his house this past Easter. I mean… that’s something. The kids were pretty baffled out in the yard. There was nothing in sight.
It’s like playing tricks on the kids. Messing with them.
But Christmas is different. The gifts are all there, under the tree. And they have name tags on them. The kids wake up and walk down the stairs into the family room and see it all there out in the open. Like some kind of announcement. It’s here! It’s here for you! Look! Your name is on it.
This is a picture of what God has done for us.
God isn’t messing with us. God isn’t playing tricks on us. God is not hiding out there somewhere. God isn’t beyond our reach, out of view, on the roof where we can’t go…
Christ is called Immanuel. God with us. And your name is written on his heart.
The outsider. The forgotten. The overlooked. The unusual. The one with controversy. The messy, dirty wanderer.
Yes, you. Your name is written on his heart.
Christianity is all about the wrong kind of people finding the right kind of love—a love that surprises us in the middle of the night with good news of great joy that is for everyone. It’s the faith that offers new beginnings to anyone who is looking for one. —Tina Osterhouse