Thoughtful Hearts 
Sunday, December 24, 2006, 07:00 AM - Sermon
Luke 1:39-55

We see the results of Santa coming to town all around us. Lights go up around houses, large balloon creatures invade front yards, and poinsettias sprout even in the aisles of Home Depot. Howe Road becomes a parking lot with traffic lights little more than red and green Christmas decorations. Stores fill with people and presents and our calendars fill with visits and parties.

Luke talks about the chaos brought by the coming of God to town. The impending arrival of Jesus Christ should upset the normal routine as much as Santa's annual visit. The proud are scattered in the thoughts of the hearts, the powerful are brought down from their thrones, and the lowly are lifted up. The hungry are filled with good things and the rich are sent empty away.

Yet, many people welcome Christ without welcoming the change He brings. Holiness and tradition are welded together so completely that thinking becomes blasphemy and change becomes apostasy. Instead of our souls being magnified, they are shrunk to fit. To welcome Christ without thought of what this cosmic event means for the lowly and the hungry, the powerful and the rich is like keeping Christmas as just another day off work without presents, family and carols.

To welcome Christ without welcoming the massive change He brings is like expectant parents looking forward to a new child without being aware of the massive changes coming to their daily and nightly lives! A baby changes things…priorities switch from you and yours to that small child. Talk about a mighty brought low! Sleep used to be a priority. Clean clothes used to non-negotiable. Meals used to be a social event—now they are a logistical challenge. Everything is changed!

If Luke asked you to plan the Christmas party described by Mary…what would you plan? How would you magnify your souls, bring down the powerful, lift up the lowly, send the rich empty away, and fill the hungry with good things? What would turn things upside down? What is in your thoughtful hearts?

What if every Christian lit one bulb in their yard and gave a hefty donation to the project Reach of FirstEnergy to help the poor with their utility bills? Or each bulb lit was for $10 donation?

What if the office party met around the Salvation Army kettle and had the band play in the grocery parking lot?

What if carolers went to the bars and taverns to sing of a different kind of Christmas spirit?

What if instead of shopping for the lowest dollar price, Christians looked for labels that described the price the worker and the environment paid to make the clothes? The human price paid for that pair of $9.99 jeans and $4.84 salmon. Imagine that instead of a restaurant, discount stores were asked and how were the pants prepared? Don't you have any clothes freshly prepared in the United States? Imagine a world where shoppers conversations were, “I don't shop there, the human price is too high.” That would be a world with thoughtful hearts.

NOT IN OUR TOWN is the inspiring documentary film about the residents of Billings, Montana who responded to an upsurge in hate violence by standing together for a hate-free community. In 1993, hate activities in Billings reached a crescendo. KKK fliers were distributed, the Jewish cemetery was desecrated, the home of a Native American family was painted with swastikas, and a brick was thrown through the window of a six-year-old boy who displayed a Menorah for Hanukkah.

Rather than resigning itself to the growing climate of hate, the community took a stand. The police chief urged citizens to respond before the violence escalated any further. Religious groups from every denomination sponsored marches and candlelight vigils. The local labor council passed a resolution against racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. Members of the local Painters Union pitched in to paint over racist graffiti. The local newspaper printed full-page Menorahs that were subsequently displayed in nearly 10,000 homes and businesses. The community made an unmistakable declaration: “Not in Our Town.” Since then, no serious acts of hate violence have been reported in Billings. — www.pbs.org

Similar efforts with good results have happened in Bloomington, Illinois; New York City; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Novato, California; and Kokomo, Indiana;

Let the disruption of this holiday, with the closed shops, extra visits, parties, and even traffic, give you a taste and a reminder of how a little baby, God with us, should shake up the world until the hungry are fed, the rich are treated the same as the poor, and the lowly are lifted up. That is the heart of Christmas, if you think about it.

Copyright (c) 2006. Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sunday Mornings! 8:15 Traditional Worship and 10:15 Blended. Mingle in our Gathering Room between services and take advantage of Christian Education opportunities at 9:30.

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