December 24 & 26, 2016



A sermon preached by The Rev. Ian Delinger


Merry Christmas!!


What a wonderful time it is. When we get to the Christmas Service, we know that the presents are all bought, mailed and wrapped. The tree is up. All the lights work. And Christmas Dinner will be perfect! We’ve had some rain, which I know none of us will complain about. The church looks beautiful, thanks to the dedicated and diligent work of the Altar Guild on Friday and throughout the week. The church building is lit up and the sidewalks are lit, thanks to our Suffering Sexton. And best of all, the heating here at St Stephen’s has been fixed, so we are all nice and warm, thanks again to Chris who made sure the technician got here before Christmas.


But we can’t forget that it’s been a crazy year with shootings and bombings, and some very unexpected politics, not just in Washington, but here in San Luis Obispo City and County, and even in the UK, Austria and other parts of the world.


Life and the world are a mixture of wonderful and crazy. The church looks beautiful, and it’s warm. I came in on Friday morning to do a few quick things for tonight’s/today’s service, only to find an army of people not just cleaning, but emptying cupboards, moving furniture to get at dust and cobwebs, sorting through junk that should have been thrown away ages ago. Getting ready for the Christmas Breakfast. They were putting up flowers, changing altar linens, hiding unsightly items that we will need at some point, but not tonight! [Katya, don’t open the top of the organ!]


Amid all of the wonderful and crazy Christmas cleaning was a couple, not known to any of us, who had rolled up their sleeves to make St Stephen’s the beautiful sight it is tonight/this morning. They had just been made homeless by no fault of their own, and have been living in their car for over a week. They only wanted a little gas money and a shower. Thanks to the Altar Guild who welcomed them in, thanks to someone bringing their plight to my attention, and thanks to the generosity of many of you here who contribute to the Discretionary Fund, the couple (who took as much care with this building as the longest-serving member of the Altar Guild) is in a motel through Christmas.


Life is both wonderful and crazy.


The Christmas Story was a

wonderful time and a

crazy time.


God coming into the world is a pretty wonderful event, one worth celebrating every year. Isaiah’s prophecy has come to fruition, and Luke tells the story in the most beautiful way: The shepherds and angels, the heavenly hosts, and it’s all presented in a way that leaves the reader thinking that staying in the manger was actually better than staying in a room in the inn. I’ll have to look up the TripAdvisor reviews for that place.


But…Joseph, as we heard last week, took as his wife a woman who was having someone else’s child. They had to travel to Bethlehem from Nazareth while heavily pregnant. It’s a 60-to-80-mile trip, which would have taken Joseph and Mary about 4 or 5 days…on foot and donkey. Shortly thereafter, they would be forced to flee as refugees to Egypt – homeless by no fault of their own.


The point of The Incarnation was to make sense out of the wonderful craziness that the world had become. The wonderful Creation that God had made had gotten crazy and out of control. So, God came Himself to sort things out. That in itself is wonderful. But it’s also a bit crazy! God could have left us to destroy ourselves and then start over again. But God didn’t.


God loves us too much, more

than we can ever imagine. So, in a

moment of craziness, God came

as one of us to show us how

wonderful we are to Him.

His story of His time here on earth was also wonderful and crazy. Then, to show us how wonderful we are, Jesus did a crazy thing and gave Himself to us in a way that we are to remember Him until He comes again:  The Eucharist, the Holy Sacrament of Bread and Wine, His Body and Blood. The Eucharist is a wonderful thing, but crazy when you think about it too hard. But we partake, and it compels us to share that wonderful love with others.


It is a little thing that we can do to make a distressed couple’s crazy life a little bit wonderful for a short time. Like the Inn Keeper who gets no mention in the Christmas Story, we don’t need credit when we help and share the wonderfulness of Christ through our actions. We simply do it because we know God’s love, and take the wonderful event that is God coming into this world, take it into ourselves, and share it with others, so that our lives and the lives of others are a little less crazy.


The Christmas Story is a mixture

of wonderful and crazy. Let the

Christ Child into your heart this

Christmas, and let the Savior’s

love turn your crazy into

wonderful, tonight/today

and always.


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