He said it had been a while since they talked. Has it been a while since you talked?
You may have used to talk to him when you were younger: Those songs, those Christmas plays, those confirmation sessions, those friends, those relatives who were part of your life – along with their values and faith in Jesus and belonging the church.
He said that they wanted their freedom. Did you want your freedom? To find it you had to push back your heavenly Father and chase your version of freedom?
You knew he kept sending messages: That invitation to come to church. That suggestion to pray. That memory of a simple trust in the church and God and the peace it used to give…. But you did not respond for some reason – or many.
The distance between them widened. Is the distance between you and God too great now? too great to even consider re-engaging in a conversation, entering the house, coming to the meal table, seeking a meeting with him would be too hard. It would be a thing of shame for you. It would be too much an admission of defeat or too scary because the he might make you pay or reject your approach or turn out to be fake or angry and ….???
Would coming back home to your Father’s house and being in his life be unthinkable because of where you have been and what you have and have not done? Too cynical of faith now, too hardened too the story, too mature for the fantasy, too hurt by the tragedy?
But friend, on this Christmas Eve, can you hear those word from a heavenly Father – words that you may have never even really heard from your earthly Father – “I love you, no matter what”?
Could that be a “thing” between you and your heavenly Father for the first time or for another time? You may have heard this word. It may have been way too familiar and something at which you promptly rolled your eyes – dismissing as some silly thing not worth hanging on to – until now that is…..;
Until that relationship soured. Until that finance trouble came. Until that hurt happened. Until that loss hit you. Until you learnt a thing or two about what is really important in life….
He is making it clear to you again this Christmas in that cow shed that there is nothing that you or I could do that would make Him declare the innings, sell the asset, give up on trying, cut off the relationship, burn the passport, walk off the farm……
That thing he has said for a thousand years or two in one way or another has never stopped being true. I love you, no matter what.”
“Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to those whom he loves.“Name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of darkest shadows.Like a shepherd taking care of his sheep, this ruler will lead and care for his people by the power and glorious name of the LORD his God. His people will live securely, and the whole earth will know his true greatness, because he will bring peace.The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.
He has packed up and left his high heaven and come to all of us.
Christmas tells us again that there is nothing that will separate any of from our heavenly Father. The past is forgotten and a new closeness is offered by this Father.
The new relationship with his peace, his hope, his self-giving love and all that these gifts from him bring to your life are the gift tonight.
He has started a new beginning with all his kids. – including you.
Can you sense the weight lifted off, the ascent to a new joy coming, the heart if the man and his true intent that has never wavered? I love you, no matter what. I love you, no matter what. I love you, no matter what. Amen.