Sunday, December 29, 2019

12.29.19 "The Story Goes On," El Monte Community Presbyterian Church

Psalm 148; Matthew 2.13-23

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Grace, mercy and peace.
Faith, hope and love.

All that is good.
All that is right.
All that is pure and ever so kind.

The story goes on.

Christmas is behind us.
But God is ahead of us.

Always another day, another moment in time.
Another chance to do it right.
To share some love.
To build up someone in need of encouragement.

Jesus is always ahead of us … on the road to hope.
Because the story goes on.

There is no end to the love of God.

I am with you always.
I will never leave you or forsake you.
I am your God and your are my people.

The Psalmist reminds us of the power of praise.
To give thanks for God’s goodness.
I know this for sure:
Praise cures a weary heart.

It’s easy to get bogged down.
It’s easy to let things bother us.
It’s easy to get lost in worries and cares.

And sometimes worry is ok.
Sometime care is important.

There’s a lot of stuff that needs doing.
Stuff that deserves our attention.
Yes, and our worry, too.
And all the care we can muster.

And that’s our reading from Matthew.

In the middle of the story.
When Christ is born.
Angels sing.
Shepherds appear.
Wisemen from afar.

And then the dream.
In the middle of the story.
In the middle of the night.

All is not well.
All is not right.

There is evil afoot.
There is Herod.
Jealous and mean-spirited.

A man puffed up with himself.
A man of lies and deceit.

Dressed in the robes of a king.
A vassal of Rome.
Filled with hatred.

Get outta here, says the angel in the dream.
Go to Egypt; stay there until I tell you otherwise.
Because Herod is out to kill the child.

And in the middle of the night.
In the middle of the story.
Mary and Joseph and the child run for their lives.

Fleeing an evil ruler.
Leaving everything behind.
In the middle of night.
Running to Egypt.

Can you imagine the terror in their hearts?
Can you see, in your mind’s eye, the fear in their faces?
I wonder what they said to one another.

More than 400 miles.
Did they have a donkey?
Or was it by foot.
More than 400 miles.
In the middle of the story.


In the middle of the night.
In the middle of the story.

And the story goes on.

It always does.
It always will.

There came a time when Herod died.
And the angel paid them another visit.
You can return now.
The one seeking the child’s life is dead.

And so Mary and Joseph and the child leave Egypt behind.
To return home.
But even then, all is not well.
Herod’s son was on the throne.
Judea was his domain.
And they were afraid.

And with another dream.
God calls them to Galilee.
To Nazareth.
Far away from Herod.
But far away, too, from family and friends.
They’re still refugees.
Now trying to build a home for themselves.
Far away from Bethlehem.
And there they created a home for their child.
Joseph the carpenter.

And there in Nazareth the boy grew up.
To become whom we now know as our LORD and our Savior.

And the story goes on.

God still at work in our world.
The sun rises and shines.
The sun sets and the stars appear.
We love and we hope.
We live and we grow.

The story goes on.

There is always a Herod somewhere.
A man of lies and deceit.
A man full of vanity and violence.

Evil prowls the world with its wars and rumors of wars.
Evil still seeks to kill the Christ.

But angels still sing.
And shepherds still leave their flocks to find the child.
Wisemen still follow the star.

The story goes on.

And here we are today.

We’re a part of the story.
And the story is who we are.

Every hymn sung.
Every prayer offered.
Every kindly word and every helping hand.

In this place, right now.
With all that’s been.
And all that shall be.

Grace, mercy and peace.
Faith hope and love.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.