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Sermon on Christmas Eve, Dec 24, 2011 at Sts Peter and Paul, El Centro, CA                                      Fr. Ron Barnes

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CHRISTMAS EVE

Millions of years ago, God created the Universe. For us, the time seems long, but to God, who is eternal, time has no meaning. For God had a purpose in mind --- He wanted to create beings who could live in joy and love, knowing God personally, and living together in peace with one another. It was a great idea. But it didn't work. Because in order to create beings who could love, God had to give them free will. And that meant these beings could become self-centred and selfish, instead of wanting to love God and one another. And the inevitable happened. Humanity, created to love and live with God, instead turned its collective back on God, preferring to be self-centred and selfish. There was No Room for God in our lives.

If it had been my idea, I would have wiped out the human race as a nice idea gone wrong. Just put the whole thing down to experience, and try something else. But thank God, that is NOT what He did. God decided His original idea of the creation of human beings who could enjoy living with Him in love was a good idea, and one that deserved to be Rescued. And God set out to Rescue us, and make His original idea successful. Well, best of luck God, the angels must have said.

God sent the Holy Spirit into all human societies that showed any sign of advance. You can see the Holy Spirit at work in all religions of the world --- as much as He is allowed --- but over the centuries, it was possible to see that the Jews were the most advanced of all. Only the Jews believed that God was One, that He was a Spiritual Being. Because of this, Judaism was the first religion in the world to see the connection between morality and religion --- and the 10 Commandments was the result. God sent prophets to refine their religious understandings, and bit by bit, Judaism developed a unique and special understanding of God, as close as was humanly possible --- so amongst all the religions of the world, the Jews were closest to recognising Him should He come.

Finally, it was time for God to put His Rescue Plan into operation. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to a little town in Israel called Nazareth, to a teenaged girl called Mary, and asked her (ASKED, mind you) if she would agree to be the Mother of the Son of God. And Mary said YES. At that moment, the Holy Spirit connected to the tiny egg in her womb, and brought it to life --- and 9 months later, the Son of God was born --- and we called Him JESUS.

This is the greatest miracle of all. God had entered His Creation. He did not send another, He came Himself. He came to Rescue us Himself.. The Creator of the Universe had intimately connected His Holy Divinity to one single human --- God was with His people. What a Wonder --- what a Risk.

Why? Why would God have launched such a Rescue Plan Himself? Why had He come to Save us?

God came to recall us to Himself for only one reason --- because He loves us. It was not because we were good, because we aren't; it is not because we loved Him, because we don't. He came to this planet to Rescue us, only because He loves us.
And how did humanity react? With cheers of praise? with shouts of gratitude? with oddles of love? Nope. We crucified Him. Talk about gratitude and thanksgiving. At the first, there was no Room in the Inn. Then there were years of argument; finally we prepared for Him a Cross --- And even then, He used that Cross to die for our forgiveness. Is there any limit to this love of His? Is there any limit to His Care?

Jesus, the Son of God and our Saviour, was born in Bethlehem this night, in a stable behind an Inn --- because there was No Room in the Inn for the Son of God. Down through the years, God has called to us to make Room for Him in our lives Is there Room in your heart for Him tonight? Will you kneel with the angels and shepherds before Mary and Joseph, to adore God who has come to us --- to save us? There was No Room in the Inn that first night --- but there is yet time. Make Room for Him in your heart tonight. Let your Saviour in. and make every day in your life from now on --- His Birthday.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen