A Responsive Reading, Inspired by Isaiah 52:7-10
Beautiful is the Newborn King.
Beautiful is the baby. Tiny feet. Tiny hands. Softest skin. Full of life.
Beautiful is the child who will know the pain of walking the walk in his own name.
Beautiful are those feet that will blister from the journey to brighter days.
Beautiful is the builder who will create more than furniture with his hands.
Beautiful are those hands that will work and live with and within the community.
Beautiful is the one who will be whipped and bruised.
Beautiful is that skin that will swell and absorb our pain.
Beautiful is the pouring out that will come in the darkest hour.
Beautiful is the blood that shows us the cost of compassion and love.
Beautiful as he is and beautiful as he will be.
Beautiful is the Newborn King.
Full of life.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Let the space we fill today be full of our praises.
We are the family members who have been sitting in the waiting room of history, straining to hear the great birth announcement.
The Holy Arm, cradling the child, has leaned over just far enough for us to catch a glimpse.
It’s a boy! It’s the Son of God! Praise God! (Say that with me church…) Praise God! Praise God! …
(As the praises settle down)
Yes, God. We recognize the irony, our gift on his divine and blessed birthday.
If only we understood what this meant and what this means…Forgive us for our selfishness.
Remind us every time we see Jesus what sacrifice looks like,
What pain looks like,
What suffering looks like,
What loss looks like.
Remind us that you knew pain, loss, and suffering long before we did, when from day one you shaped the path and set things in motion to give up your Son for us.
Lord God, thank you for giving him to us in order to save us from ourselves and our circumstances.
Thank you for setting the stage with a beautiful baby.
Thank you for opening our hearts so that our minds would be more receptive to your desires for your people.
May the selfish child within each of us find you, your Son’s example, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that from this day forward we forever remember and offer gratitude for this Child, a gift we could never afford to pay back.
We Are More than What Is in Front of Us
A Sermonic Sending Forth: For a Closing or Dying Church
We are more than what is in front of us.
We are built up and built out of a past tense that informs our future.
Listen. Hear our future. It’s outside, where the real work of the church happens. God is still doing good in us and in the world and has not given up on building up the kingdom on earth. So, let’s not allow our past to hold us hostage. Let’s join the revolution.
Even before God’s vision is recognized by unbelievers, their expectations are growing. Listen to their expectations out there, flowing in freestyle music and poetic stories of injustice. Flowing from the lips of people who didn’t grow up in our traditions and know nothing of the struggles and source of our convictions.
Maybe we missed something. Maybe we were living out life cycles content to dwell on and in our selfishness, focused and blinded by the past so much so that we didn’t see how history should inform our present tense experiences.
Let’s not live in the past, but live. Let’s build up our present with consideration of the past that is here right now. Here with us. Born to set us free.
It may not feel like it, but this is good news.
Unto us a Child has been born.
A Son given.
No secrets here.
Everybody will get to see when God’s vision meets human reality.
It does not matter if the present condition of these walls reflects a different story.
Let’s turn these ruins into steppingstones
raising us up to see what those who are watching from outside expect with anticipation.
That is, before our ruins become tombstones for our souls.
Yes, let’s sing songs and celebrate, even as we walk out of these doors today. Let’s put on our God-given footwear, climb into the mountainous terrain far from our comfort zone and let the good news be open to us and to others as we share about that saving grace, that awesome gift of God, until our feet can walk no more.
We are more than what’s in front of us.
We are people of God.
Praise be to God.