Christmas Day
Pastor George Pejakovich
John 1:1-14

SHALOM ALECHEM, STRANGER. WELCOME. SIT DOWN, SIT DOWN.
WHAT CAN I GET FOR YOU? WE HAVE THE BEST BEER IN BETHLEHEM, WHICH I BREW MYSELF; OR I CAN SERVE YOU THE FINE WINE FROM MT. CARMEL. WINE IT IS. HERE YOU GO; ENJOY. YES, I’M THE OWNER; WELL, ME AND THE WIFE, SINCE SHE WATCHES OVER THE MONEY LIKE A HAWK. YES, WE’VE BEEN HERE A LONG TIME, MOST OF MY LIFE SINCE I INHERITED THIS INN FROM MY FATHER WHEN I WAS A YOUNG MAN. I’M GETTING OLD NOW, BUT WE’VE GOT TWO GROWN SONS AND THEIR WIVES TO HELP WHEN IT GETS BUSY. KIND OF QUIET TODAY, WHICH IS A GOOD THING, SINCE THINGS HAVE BEEN TENSE, EVEN DANGEROUS, FOR A WHILE. WE’RE ONLY FOUR MILES FROM JERUSALEM, SO WHEN THERE’S TROUBLE THERE WE FEEL IT HERE. WHAT’S THAT? YOU WANT TO KNOW IF JESUS WAS BORN HERE? KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN. THE PLACE IS EMPTY NOW, BUT THE WALLS HAVE EARS, ROMAN EARS, IF YOU GET MY DRIFT. I’LL TELL YOU, BUT YOU’RE GOING TO NEED MORE WINE.

TOOK ME A WHILE TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER, BECAUSE I REALLY HADN’T THOUGHT ABOUT IT FOR OVER THIRTY YEARS. IT WAS DURING THE GREAT CENSUS, WHEN EVERYONE HAD TO COME BACK TO THEIR ORIGINAL FAMILY HOME TO SIGN UP FOR THE TAX ROLLS. HUH, NOTHING EVER CHANGES. WELL, WE WERE PACKED FULL. MY FATHER DIED THE YEAR BEFORE, AND MY WIFE AND I WERE RUNNING AROUND LIKE CHICKENS, TRYING TO FEED EVERYONE, AND FIND A PLACE FOR THEM TO SLEEP.WE FINALLY GOT EVERYONE SETTLED, SO THE WIFE AND I WENT UP ON THE ROOF TO GRAB A FEW HOURS SLEEP BEFORE WE HAD TO FEED EVERYONE BREAKFAST. IT WAS HARD TO FALL ASLEEP UNDER THE LIGHT OF THAT STRANGE STAR, WHICH MADE A LOT OF PEOPLE NERVOUS, INCLUDING ME, BUT WE FINALLY DRIFTED OFF. SEEMED LIKE I JUST FELL ASLEEP, BUT IT MUST HAVE BEEN A COUPLE HOURS LATER, WHEN SOMEONE IS BANGING ON THE DOOR. I THREW ON MY ROBE, AND LEANED OVER THE EDGE OF THE ROOF AND SHOUTED, “GO AWAY. WE’RE FULL. THERE’S NO ROOM!” THEN I LOOKED DOWN AND SAW AN OLDER MAN, LEADING A DONKEY, AND SITTING ON THE DONKEY WAS THIS YOUNG SLIP OF A GIRL WHO WAS CLEARLY ABOUT TO HAVE A CHILD. I’M NOT A MEAN MAN, SO I SIGHED, AND SAID, “LOOK; GO AROUND BACK TO THE STABLE AND STAY THERE. I’LL COME SETTLE WITH YOU IN THE MORNING.” THEN I WENT BACK TO SLEEP.

I DIDN’T GET MUCH SLEEP THAT NIGHT, I’LL TELL YOU. COUPLE OF HOURS LATER I HEARD A RUKUS IN THE STREET. I LOOKED OVER THE EDGE AND SAW A BUNCH OF SHEPHERDS, SHEPHERDS MIND YOU, GOING AROUND BACK TO MY STABLE. YOU KNOW WHAT SHEPHERDS ARE LIKE, SO I GOT DRESSED IN A HURRY, WENT DOWNSTAIRS AND CLIMBED OVER ALL THE PEOPLE SLEEPING ON THE FLOOR, AND RAN AROUND BACK TO PROTECT MY PROPERTY. WHEN I GET TO THE STABLE, I SAW THE STRANGEST THING. ALL THE SHEPHERDS WERE ON THEIR KNEES, OR ON THE GROUND, LIKE THEY WERE WORSHIPING IN THE TEMPLE. WHEN I ASKED ONE WHAT WAS GOING ON, HE TOLD ME THIS CRAZY TALE OF ANGELS TELLING THEM, SHEPHERDS, THAT THE MESSIAH, THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD WAS BORN, RIGHT HERE IN MY STABLE. WELL, I PUSHED MY WAY THROUGH THEM INTO THE STABLE, AND LOOKED FOR MYSELF. THERE WAS THE YOUNG WOMAN, HOLDING HER NEW BORN BABY, THE BABY WHO THE SHEPHERDS WERE WORSHIPING. IT WAS CRAZY, I TELL YOU. SAVIOR OF THE WORLD THEY SAID. WELL, I LOOKED, AND ALL I SAW WAS AN ORDINARY BABY. SO, I WENT BACK TO BED, ONLY TO BE AWAKENED AGAIN BY THE SHEPHERDS LEAVING SINGING THE PSALMS. SHEPHERDS SINGING PSALMS; CRAZY.

WELL, I LET THE MAN, HIS WIFE, AND NEW BABY STAY ON UNTIL SHE WAS FIT TO TRAVEL. THAT’S WHEN I FOUND OUT THEY HAD NAMED THE BABY, YESHUA, JESUS. ABOUT A MONTH LATER, ANOTHER STRANGE THING HAPPENED. THIS CARAVAN OF RICH FOREIGNERS CAME FROM JERUSALEM, BUT THEY WEREN’T JEWS; FROM SOMEWHERE IN THE EAST THEY SAID. JUST LIKE THE SHEPHERDS, THEY BOWED DOWN TO WORSHIP THE LITTLE BABY, AND EVEN GAVE HIM GIFTS FIT FOR A KING. FIRST A SAVIOR, AND NOW A KING. I WAS GOING CRAZY; I TOOK ANOTHER GOOD LOOK, BUT ALL I COULD SEE WAS AN ORDINARY LITTLE BABY. THE DAY AFTER THE FOREIGNERS LEFT, I WENT TO TALK TO THE COUPLE, BUT THEY, AND THEIR BABY, WERE GONE. HE HAD PAID IN ADVANCE, SO I WASN’T WORRIED. I JUST SCRATCHED MY HEAD AND WENT BACK TO WORK. THEN, A FEW DAYS LATER, THE NIGHT OF HORRORS CAME WHEN THE SOLDIERS OF OLD KING HEROD KILLED ALL THE BABIES TWO YEARS AND YOUNGER. THE WIFE AND I CLUNG TO EACH OTHER IN TERROR AT THE SOUND OF THE SCREAMS. . . . LET ME GET A DRINK FOR MYSELF.

WELL, AFTER THINGS SETTLED DOWN AGAIN, I PUT IT ALL OUT OF MY MIND, AND, AS I SAID, DIDN’T THINK ABOUT IT AGAIN FOR THIRTY YEARS. THEN THERE WAS THE FUSS OVER A PROPHET AT THE JORDAN. THEN THERE WAS ALL THIS TALK ABOUT THIS JESUS OF NAZARETH UP IN GALILEE, PREACHING AND HEALING PEOPLE, EVEN CRAZY STORIES OF HIM FEEDING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE; SOME EVEN SAYING THEY SHOULD MAKE HIM KING TO FREE US FROM THE ROMANS. NOW THE MAN, JOSEPH I THINK HE SAID WAS HIS NAME, LIVED IN NAZARETH, AND I BEGAN TO WONDER IF THIS WAS THE SAME JESUS WHO WAS BORN IN MY STABLE. I COULDN’T KNOW FOR SURE, SINCE JESUS IS NOT SO UNCOMMON A NAME, AND I SURE DIDN’T SEE ANYTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THAT BABY SO LONG AGO.

IT WAS AT PASSOVER A FEW YEARS AGO THAT I KNEW FOR SURE. HE HAD COME TO THE TEMPLE, PREACHING AND TEACHING, AND THERE WAS A BIG COMMOTION ABOUT IT. LIKE I SAID; JERUSALEM GETS AN ITCH AND WE START SCRATCHING. I HEARD HE WAS ARRESTED, BUT I WAS HEADED UP TO JERUSALEM FOR PASSOVER, SO I DIDN’T KNOW ANY MORE UNTIL I SAW HIM CRUCIFIED OUTSIDE OF THE GATE. THERE WAS A SIGN OVER HIS HEAD THAT SAID, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS.” I THOUGHT THAT WAS PRETTY CRAZY; A CRUCIFIED KING! WELL, THAT’S WHEN I SAW HIS MOTHER, AND RECOGNIZED HER AS THE YOUNG GIRL FROM THAT NIGHT SO LONG AGO. HUH, I THOUGHT, THAT MAN ON THE CROSS WAS BORN IN MY STABLE RIGHT OUT BACK. WHAT DID I DO? I WENT UP TO THE TEMPLE FOR PASSOVER, AND WHILE I WAS PRAYING, THERE WAS MORE CRAZINESS. THERE WAS AN EARTHQUAKE, AND THE VEIL OF THE HOLY OF HOLIES WAS RIPPED OPEN FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. LATER I HEARD HE WAS BURIED IN SOME RICH GUY’S TOMB, AND I THOUGHT, WELL, THAT’S THE END OF THAT.

SO I THOUGHT, BUT THEN THE ROMANS START TURNING THINGS OVER SAYING SOMEONE STOLE HIS BODY; THEY EVEN CAME THROUGH HERE LOOKING FOR HIM. THEN LATER, THERE WAS ALL THESE CRAZY STORIES ABOUT HIS DISCIPLES SAYING HE HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD, AND HE EVEN ATE WITH THEM. NOW THEY’RE GOING AROUND EVERYWHERE SAYING THAT HE WAS THE MESSIAH WE HAD BEEN WAITING FOR, BUT NOT IN THE WAY WE WERE EXPECTING. CRAZY, RIGHT?

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? FROM TIME TO TIME, WHEN IT’S QUIET, LIKE NOW, I THINK TO MYSELF, “WHAT IF WHAT THEY SAY IS TRUE?” WHAT IF THOSE SHEPHERDS WHO WORSHIPED HIM AND THOSE RICH FOREIGNERS WHO BOWED DOWN TO THAT LITTLE BABY WERE RIGHT? I CAN’T SEEM TO GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD. WHAT IF HE WAS THE MESSIAH, THE SAVIOR, BORN RIGHT BACK THERE IN MY STABLE; WHAT COULD THAT POSSIBLY MEAN? BUT I LOOKED, I TELL YOU, AND ALL I EVER SAW WAS AN ORDINARY LITTLE BABY. WHAT DID I MISS? IT’S JUST CRAZY, I TELL YOU.
OH WELL, CAN I GET YOU ANOTHER?

HE WAS IN THE WORLD, AND THE WORLD CAME INTO BEING THROUGH HIM; YET THE WORLD DID NOT KNOW HIM. HE CAME TO WHAT WAS HIS OWN, AND HIS OWN PEOPLE DID NOT ACCEPT HIM. BUT TO ALL WHO RECEIVED HIM, WHO BELIEVED IN HIS NAME, HE GAVE POWER TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD, WHO WERE BORN, NOT OF BLOOD OR THE WILL OF THE FLESH OR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD. 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.
AMEN

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