Sermon – 12-24-19 – Christmas Eve
Scriptures: Isaiah 9:6-7; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:1-20
Sermon Title: “The Donkey Said It All”
“I,” said the Donkey, shaggy and brown.
I carried his mother up hill and down.
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town.
“I,” said the Donkey, shaggy and brown.
Yes, Sir Donkey, you were privileged. You became a holy donkey. You were carrying two holy people – one you could see, one you could not see. You may have thought you were only carrying a lovely young lady accompanied by her loved one on foot. Six feet that was. Four animal feet, two human feet. Were you tired? Did you stop and rest? Were you fed? Did your people need to carry your food or did they stop at the homes of kind people for your food and their food?
There are so many questions. That was a long walking trip. Was it dangerous? Did you sense that this was a special journey – not a run-of-the-mill trip? Sir Donkey asks, “What is a run-of-the-mill trip?” “Oh,” say I. “Well, like going to market or going to synagogue.”
Sir Donkey replies, “I knew in my bones that it was something special! It was exciting but I could tell that this woman and man were a bit apprehensive even though I realized that they loved each other much. The woman would say to the man, ‘I know you will love this baby, gentle Joseph.’ The man would say, ‘Mary, I know I will love this baby.’ They burst into singing sometimes. A beautiful sound. It made me feel so safe to be with them. It took away my tiredness and aching in my legs. I heard them say the name ‘Jesus’ over and over.”
“I did not know who this Jesus is or was or will be. But it felt like a blessed name. The stars were shining when we finally walked into Bethlehem heading for the inn with much longing. You know, food, a bed for my people and a stall of some sort for me with fresh hay would be really nice, I was thinking,” says Sir Donkey.
Sir Donkey continues,” Now we finally enter this town called Bethlehem during the nighttime, my man knocks on the door of the inn. My lady is starting to look quite uncomfortable and making soft noises. Finally, the innkeeper comes to the door and my lady and I can see that he is shaking his head. Oh, dear. This is unimaginable! No room in the inn! No room in the inn. Oh, my. Shall we find a stretch of grass and rest our weary bodies under the stars in the open air? I make my soft donkey sound actually ready to lie down where I was standing. But I cannot! No way! My lady is still sitting on me. Both of us are very uncomfortable and longing for reprieve from our aches.”
“Now we watch as the innkeeper points to a stable in the back of the inn. A stable? Oh yes, that would be for me. But I cannot go to my rest until my lady has found rest. But look! The inn keeper is walking toward the stable with my man. They motion for me to follow. So I get my weary legs in motion and slowly move from my spot. My lady is very still like she is holding her breath.
“Finally, my lady is helped off my back by my man. While that is happening, I notice the beautiful fragrance of fresh hay. I hear a stirring. Is that a cow over there? What else is here? I can hear the breathing. In their sleep, the animals can sense that something new is happening in their home. ‘Who left them in?’ they might be saying, I think. We are intruders. As soon as my lady slid off my back into the arms of my man, I gently follow my nose to the place where food is waiting for me.
“My lady and my man are not thinking about food. Something new is happening. Wow! A baby. An adorable baby. But wrap him quickly. Wrap him in the baby blanket which appears from a bag my man was carrying. The baby is a ‘him.’ My lady and my man keep whispering “Jesus, Sweet, Sweet Jesus.” The baby cries. My lady holds this precious baby close to her and the baby stops crying. Everyone – my lady, my man, my new baby, and myself – gently fall into a happy sleep.
“‘Oh, Jesus,’ I am saying with my soft donkey noises. ‘Oh Jesus. I love you. Yes, little baby in the manger, I love you.’ ‘Mary do you know that this baby boy will be your Savior? My lady, do you know that when you kiss this soft, cuddly baby that you are kissing the face of God? Do you know, my lady, that you are holy?”
“Do I know that in 33 short years, another donkey like myself will carry this grown baby into Jerusalem to be everyone’s Savior?” “Do you know,” says Sir Donkey, “that this baby boy brings with him enough love for everyone in this whole world. This baby brings free salvation to everyone who believes that he is the Son of God and can change our lives in amazing ways – gradually or suddenly.”
“Now,” says donkey, “watch for the shepherds and the angels, later watch for the wise men from the far East. It is God’s plan.”
Each year we wait and watch and feel washed with this renewed salvation. Each year we feel closer and closer to God as Father, and God as Son Jesus, and God as the Holy Spirit. May the Holy Spirit cleanse this space of all evil, each tiny little bit of evil that we don’t even know is here. May it be gone! “Gone,” Sir Donkey and I say. “Let the freshness of holiness sweep through among us and fill our hearts.” Amen