CHRISTMAS - THE GREATEST LOVE STORY
We are all God's children. Can I have hear an "Amen"! I can't hear you! Can I have a louder "Amen". Praise the Lord.
Let us open with a word of prayer. Father God, be with us as we celebrate the birth of your son Jesus Christ. Father God I know that in your heart there is a special place for the PLU community, and a message of acceptance that this Christmas may be much more that the traditional Christmas story. Let Christmas be known as the greatest love story, a story also of your acceptance for People Like Us.
Let us turn to our bibles. Today's bible reading is from Isa 9:6
This Christmas season has been a sad one. I have only two relationships in my life. The first was with my previous girlfriend who was more my best friend rather than an intimate relationship. It lasted only 2 years as we never could be more intimate because I could not find in myself to be attracted to her. The second was with my lover and best friend of 5 years. As this relationship is seemingly coming to an end, my heart is at a total loss. I dreamt of him and the good times we had together. We never really fought - only twice. I have given so much and received much as well. I loved him and will always do. But now all this is a distant past but I missed Him so much. This season of celebration, I am alone, heart broken and depressed. Friends may surround, but a hollowness prevails, a sense of loss, that a big part of me has died. I come to nativity scene today, not bringing any gifts as the three wise men gave, but I bring myself, my life, my hurts, my emptiness for Christ to fill. As I stood here to celebrate and worship Jesus, I sensed that God felt even greater pain and loss 4,000 years ago.
At the garden of Eden, God gave so much to man. He had a good life. He need not need to work much. Everything was provided for. Adam soon owned the whole earth. God loved him and everyday would seek him out in the garden of Eden where he stayed. We were not told how long this period was, but it could have been years as they enjoyed each others relationship. But no that was not enough. God was the best "sugar daddy" that could ever be, but men was not satisfied nor grateful. Soon, Adam eloped with his new friend, Satan, the enemy of God. Satan was already destined for eternal punishment. By choosing Satan, Adam gave his life to him and destined himself and his descendents to be forever under Satan's bondage and likewise destined for hell. Adam went off with His new "boyfriend", leaving God who loved him so much totally heartbroken. It would be so easy for God to destroy Satan, and forced Adam to come back. But that would not have been true love.
A grand plan to woo mankind back was put into place. In a stroke of irony, the very offspring of Adam/Eve would one day bringdown the power and rule of Satan. God would sent His only Son, Jesus to woo mankind back. But God had to wait 4,000 years. It was a long process to find the one who is faithful to God, to be the father of the nation that one day Jesus would be born in. It would need to be the right timing, when mankind would grow weary of Satan's rule over their lives, and start to yearn for God to come back. What a heartbreak it must have been for God to go through as He observed how men went from prostitutes to prostitutes to their many gods. It would be heartbreaking if we see our boyfriends or girlfriends spent every night having sex with another partner.
Yet, God remained faithful. The bible is but the greatest love story and drama ever told. It is about God's everlasting love for us. On this day 2,000 years ago, in Bethlehem, in Judah, Jesus was born. He came to bring great joy to all people that God still loves them, and does not condemned them. He came as a baby not as a conquering king as the Jews expected. He came as a defenseless baby that we may accept him into our hearts. He came not to judge us but to welcome us back. God gave up His only Son as a testimony for His love for us even though we deserved it not and may even reject him.
What did Jesus say about Gays?. In Singapore today, we have the Christian Right who has made it an obsession to be anti-Gay. Many Gays have been hurt and rejected by those who claim to know Jesus, and who claimed to have a mandate from the bible to be anti-Gay. But Jesus never condemned Gays. Some have said Jesus did not talked about Gays. But, He did. So, what did Jesus say?.
The above passage, Jesus talked about sexual immorality among married people. In Mat 9:10, marriage is so significant that even if you were divorsced and then have sex with a new partner it is considered adultery. The disciples quickly reverted, "then why not don't marry loh". And Jesus responded that unless you are an eunuch, it would be difficult not to enter into a relationship with a woman. i.e. not humanly possible for straight guys. In the culture then, the word Eunuch does not necessarily refers to forced castration. It also refers to Gays who are natural Enuchs so to say because even though they have their sexual organs intact, they have no desire for woman and for lesbians, vice versa.
The scene changed from discussion on sex to little children seeking Jesus? what a contrast.
Why? The little children are gays, they are innocent, they are born that way, and many have a heart to seek after God. But the disciples (i.e. Church) rebuke them - just like many churches who says that gays cannot be christians, and that homosexuality is sin. Hence intoduced a barrier to them and an incorrect notion of a condenming God. We celebrate His birthday, because Jesus sees through us, to our thoughts, our feelings, and disappointments and totally accept us as who we are and condemned us not.
In Isa 56:3, another most amazing good news was promised to Gays:-
When you see children running around in the church, do you ever have that desire in your heart to have children and be in total despair knowing that you are unlikely to have them?. Jesus sees the anguish in the heart of PLUs who yearned to have the joy of family and to have offsprings to pass on their inheritance, but yet could not. Our name will be lost forever with no descendents to carry on. But, Jesus promised to give us back what we have lost, a name that will be remembered, by having a special place in His heart. No wonder, Isaiah proclaims Him wonderful, counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus with much fanfare and an end of year holiday mood. But most people missed the event when Jesus was born. It was a simple yet profound event. The birth took place at a stable (Luke 2:10-14) for camels, horses and donkeys as there was no room at the inn for Jesus. Think of Hotel 81, the in-famous hotel chain in Singapore, no not the executive suit, but the car park Lots. Many would have walked past and few recognized this event. There were only two groups of visitors, the shepherds and the wise men. Both came from afar. Would you have walked past?
The Christian Right never made it to Jesus first birthday party. The religious Jews knew of Jesus' birth from the bible. They were the keepers of the scriptures - the very word that the Christian right used today to condemn gays. The signs were there. Rumors abound with the appearances of the wise men and their caravans of gifts. Yet they missed the event. When we read the bible legalistically from our own morality, we missed the greatest gift of all, Jesus because we can never comprehend His grace and mercy, the extent of God's love for us.
Jesus was born not only for the mega churches at Jurong West, Suntec, or at Expo, not just to the Anglican Church at City Hall. If it was so there would be a huge crowd queuing up to see Jesus, at least one hour before the service. But no, His birth was a simple affair, attended by few - not the wealthy or religious zealots but the poor and humble, humble to admit they need the saviour. for those who seek Him and took trouble to come afar off. So, was His life and ministry on earth. They would called Him an activist if He was alive today and the very same religious authorities would have crucified Him. But I called Him my Lord and Saviour. How about you? We celebrate His birthday today knowing that He is for us and not against us. He welcomes us today just as we are. Do not pass Him by.
Today, we celebrate His birthday, knowing that 33 years later, Jesus would die at the cross for you and me. In doing so, He became our everlasting peace with God. Jesus invite us to His birthday today. It is a love invitation. I may have lost my boyfriend, but Jesus is my first boy friend who has never left me and will never forsake me. He is and always will remain faithful. Even till death will not do us apart but one day I will meet Him in heaven. What about you? Is He your friend too? Do you meet Him each day or only Sunday mornings or once a year. I leave with you. Christmas, the greatest love story ever told, of one born to die that we may live forever and be at peace with ourselves as Gays and be at peace with God.
Last Sunday after church, it was my birthday. Should have been a joyful moment, but I was walking aimlessly around city hall. A feeling of loss prevail over the separation with my boyfriend. I tried to pray but could not. I felt empty, loss, and a great sense of desertion and despair. Where is God I asked? How come I have to suffer so much in my life! Tears came rolling down as I spent my quiet time with Jesus just walking to nowehere for hours. The Christmas mood was everywhere as the decorations and Christmas carols blazed aloud at the shopping centres. But no matter, nothing could lift me up. I then remembered, the first time I went carolling to minister to the poor and elderly. The song I sang from Isa 9:6, "For unto us a child is born" as I spoke of God's love and comfort to the old folks many of whom would be their last Christmas. For unto us a Child is born. And this child is Jesus. All government and authority will be given unto Him and what a great blessing He will be - wonderful to bless me greatly, Consellor - to comfort me, mighty to help me overcome my struggles, everlasting - forever with me whose blessings and comfort in my life knows no end, and finally Prince of peace - to give me peace when all else fails. As I sang the song over and over again, Jesus was seemingly there saying "For unto you I was born for such a time as this. I will be with you. I will be your comforter and peace. Do not fear for I will be with you forever".
Let me teach you a new song. Let us sing:- For Unto Us a Child is Born
For unto us a child is born
(Repeat Three times).