Dec 24 sermon: "Nativity of Our Lord."
And may you have blessings from God on this night and everyone thereafter.

Every story has five basic elements to it.
The ‘Who’, the ‘What’, the ‘When’, the ‘Where’ and the ‘Why’.
If I gave a quiz on the Christmas story we’d all know the ‘Who’ is Jesus Christ.
We know the ‘What’ is his birth and the ‘When’ is about 2,000 years ago.
And the ‘Why’ is that he was sent to bring us God’s love and forgiveness and salvation.

Notice that I didn’t mention the ‘Where’ of this event;… but I omitted that on purpose. We all know the ‘Where’ was the town of Bethlehem and that he was laid in a manger.
But do you think events happened where they did just out of fluky luck at the time,…. 
or were circumstances of the ‘Where’ of this story part of God being up to something?

Let me tell you something about God -
God doesn’t do anything without a good reason.
Unlike people who do foolish or senseless things all the time,….
when God does something, you can bet there is a good and sensible reason.
So just as God had good reasons for the ‘who’ the ‘what’, the ‘when’, and the ‘why’,…
God had a good reason for Jesus being born where he was.

We know at Christmas we welcome people into places where we gather together.
We generally go to places to eat or parties at homes or even, like tonight, to church.
But on the night of Jesus’ brith the story tells us that his parents had no place to go.
They were relegated to an outside area, away from where everyone else was.

And, what’s worse,…where they had to go was like a barn with all the livestock.
Think about how clean and pristine and sterile a barnyard where animals lived and ate and….did everything else.
I know the manger scenes we find on cards and even have in church look beautiful.
But I have worked on several farms and I can tell you about places are not like that.

Yet that is where God chooses to do this most dramatic thing in history.
Where Jesus is born is a lowly place that is outside and away from the better places.
He starts out life born in a place where he is an outsider.
But, as we said, God has a good reason for things he does. 

Jesus was not born to royalty and in the lap of luxury and wealth and riches.
Jesus was not born in a castle where handmaidens tended to Mary’s every need.
Jesus was not born where only the privileged and elites could enter and be welcomed.
Jesus was born in a place where he was an outsider.

But the reason for the ‘where’ of Jesus brith tells us a lot about God (and Jesus).
The where of Jesus’ birth sends us one of the main messages that God brought to us.
That is, that God loves the ‘outsider’ and God loves the ‘lowly’.

Who are people we’d call an ‘outsider’ of the ‘lowly’?
Well, there are lots of examples - homeless people, people who are refugees from war.
People who live in poverty and unsafe or unsanitary conditions.
People who, by law or practice, are considered lesser citizens than others.
These are all examples of ‘lowly’ and ‘outsider’ persons whom God cares for.

See, before Jesus came, the general understanding of God was the opposite.
People believed that proof that God loved you was when things were good.
When you were well off and healthy and admired and one of the ‘in-siders’ of life.
People believed that, if you were one of those ‘outsiders’ that God was punishing you.
Not sure for what, but if you were a lowly outsider, God must not like you they thought.

But then Jesus, starting with the ‘where’ of this birth, changed all that thinking.
Now, people could see that God not only loved the lowly outsiders,…
but that in fact, God even started out here on earth as a lowly “outsider” himself.
So that God did, in fact, loves and relates to the ‘lowly’ and the ‘outsider’.

But this story of God come to us is not just about a history event from long, long ago.
Its about who God is now and what God is like for us today.
Because, you see, there are times in all of our lives when we are the lowly outsider.

Where we’re in a place financially that leaves us lowly as compared to many others.
Where we’re living in a lowly place that lacks comforts and conveniences others have.
Where we’re in a place at work or socially feeling excluded and away from others.
Where we’re in a place of illness that puts us outside the healthy lifestyle many have.
Where we’re in a place where we feel like an outside to those who are smarter than we.
Where we’re in a place feeling sad that puts us outside the happiness of everyone else.
Where we’re in a place having done wrong that pus us outside of God’s righteousness.

We all have been,…or are right now,…or will be at some point, a lowly outsider.
Just as Jesus was a lowly outsider that night in an insignificant town, lying in a feed trough.
So please most assuredly know that, when we are in those places, God is with us.
That God loves us, and relates to, and understands how it feels to be an ‘outsider.
What it’s like to be ‘lowly’ and insignificant.

So rejoice on this wonderful night for the good news of Jesus Christ.
But rejoice even more the next time you feel like or are a lowly outsider in life.