Sermon for Matthew 2:13-23   -   We Know Exactly How You Feel, Jesus
Christmas 1

Oh, Christmas has come and gone, but its scent lingers: spiced cider, evergreen, bayberry candles, cookies baking, popcorn, ham and scalloped potatoes, chestnuts roasting, and hot chocolate. Christmas has come, and its scent lingers: the aroma of newspaper casually read by a crackling fire or the smell of a new book received as a gift; pungent chemicals of instant pictures developing, or tempera paint on a homemade gift; play- dough, silly putty, gift perfume or cologne, shoe polish applied generously for a Christmas Eve shine. Christmas has come and its scent lingers.

In this season of angels, Paul proclaims that it is not with the angels that Christ is concerned but with men and women -- children of Abraham. "For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned, but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God ..." (Hebrews 2:16, 17). Did he have to become Love Incarnate and be "made like his brethren in every respect" so that he could understand us? Or so that we could understand him?

A youth choir at a church was in rehearsal preparing a pageant which included some upbeat songs and choreography. One of the regulars in the group, Melissa, had brought a friend who was not catching on to the rhythm or the words. As sometimes happens, the regular had become focused on her own preparation and had forgotten about shepherding her friend. Also in the group was a boy named Cash Box because he always seemed to have money in his pocket, which won him favor with some. His social awkwardness and offensive banter, however, usually left his interpersonal balance sheet in the negative. As the rehearsal continued, Melissa's friend became more and more embarrassed, feeling clumsy and out of place. Finally she broke from the group. Down the hallway she fled, trying not to be noticed, pretending to read a bulletin board, flushed with tears, mortified, wishing she had never come. Soon footsteps approached from behind. It was Cash Box. The youth pastor edged closer to the scene, concerned over what Cash might say. "Hey, I saw you in there. Don't worry, this song's kinda hard; don't really know it myself. But we can't learn it standing out here. C'mon, let's go back in. You won't be alone. I know what it's like to be alone."

Sometimes we wonder: Do you know I'm alone, Jesus? Do you know exactly how I feel? Jesus taught that God cares for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air and that the hairs on our head are numbered in God's eyes. But how can we know God understands? That Christ understands? Because he became like us in every respect....

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