Broken but beautiful in the light of Christ
Sermon Preached at St. Peter & St. Paul, Marietta, GA
by The Rev. Tom Pumphrey, December 25, 2019
Luke 2:1-14(15-20) In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see– I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Merry Christmas! Welcome to this celebration of God’s love for us, this celebration of God with us!
Christmas morning fills me with wonderful memories of great joy and celebration with my family. I remember decorating the Christmas tree with my dad. We would take out the old boxes from the attic, unwrap the ornaments and lay them out on sheets on the floor. One by one we would carefully hang them on the tree. Many were delicate glass ornaments, and some of them very old. There were some from my father’s childhood.
One of those old ornaments was a gold colored glass ornament that had a kind of recessed area within it, where ridges formed a kind of diamond pattern, painted in blues and whites. One year someone must have dropped the ornament, or perhaps it was crushed in the packing boxes. But a piece of the glass inside that recess was broken, revealing a spotty silver color.
My Father was sad that this old ornament was broken, but he kept it anyway. He found a place on the tree where he could set it next to one of the Christmas lights. That broken section caught the light in such a way that made it glow and dazzle, reflecting that light back out again. My father found a way to make even that broken ornament even more beautiful.
My father noticed the beauty of this thing, and he shared this story in a Christmas sermon. My dad is a priest, and he almost always led the service on Christmas morning. So that year, he told us about that ornament and how it became a sign to him of God’s grace.
You see, we are even more precious to God than those antique ornaments. We are beautiful in God’s sight, and he wants us to stay just as beautiful as we can. But of course, we are fragile too, and each of us has flaws and injuries, each of us is broken in some way. But our heavenly father does not simply do away with us.
The story of Christmas is the story of how God loves us so much, even despite our sins, that he comes into human history to be born of a human mother. He comes to this world in Jesus to show us how much he loves us. He is willing to die for us and he does die for us, giving himself on the cross for our sins and failings. Jesus rises again to new life to give us new life. Jesus takes all our broken places and restores and renews us. Despite our broken places, God can shine his light into us to reveal even more of our beauty. God’s light overcomes our brokenness and renews the beauty he wants for us.
This is the good news of Christmas, that the God of the universe loves us enough to overcome our sins and reconcile us to himself. He overcomes the barriers between us, he frees us from the sin and death, and in his light, we are beautiful again!
Give all of who you are to God, your beauty and your brokenness, and watch the power of God transform you with the light of his grace. Merry Christmas!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5, 14