Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Day Talk

I gave a talk at the soup kitchen in Palo Alto on Christmas Day, 2012. Here it is:

We are from the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. We meet at the Cubberly Auditorium on Sundays and you are welcome to join us. As this is Christmas Day, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about Christmas.

Most of you must have heard of the horrific shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut. All around our world, there are tragic and unjust events – in India, where I come from, in the capital, New Delhi, a woman is raped every 18 hours. It is cruel and unjust. There are wars in many parts of the world. There is also suffering and pain in our local neighborhoods. I had a meal with a friend of mine who does not have a home and sleeps in public places. It is cold and raining now. He tries to get on bus 22 when he gets a chance. There is so much brokenness all around us. Perhaps, you might relate to some of it. Maybe, there is pain and suffering in your life. 

Why do I bring this all up on Christmas Day? Isn’t Christmas supposed to be about gifts and lots of food? No, not really – there is more to Christmas. I want to read a passage that has stuck with me during this season. This is when Jesus has grown up and the first time he reads the scriptures in public – it is written by a guy called Luke who recorded this:  Luke 4 “He (Jesus) went to Nazareth where he had been brought up and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue was fastened on him and he began by saying to them “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”.

Friends, this is what Christmas is about. It is the day that Jesus, the son of God, entered into this world. And he came for those of us who are suffering, those of us in pain, those of us who are hungry. He comes and meets us in our pain. Sometimes, even today, he does miracles and cures our pains. And other times, God sits with us and comforts us in our pain and distress. Above all, he loves us dearly and deeply.
This is the good news for us today. We do not have to suffer alone. Jesus has come to be with us. You can get relief today. And this good news is not just for us in this room, but it is for the whole world. That is why I have hope in the midst of the suffering in Newtown, in New Delhi and for those of us who are homeless. Jesus comes to bring freedom and hope to all of us.

Friends, in this room now, I want to do 3 things.
First, there might be some of you going through hard circumstances. We want to offer to pray with you. Prayer is nothing but talking to God, bringing our pain, our joy and stories to Him. And he hears our prayers and is in our midst.
Second, if you do not know Jesus but want to find out more about him, I invite you to come speak to us. Maybe, today is the day, you invite Jesus to walk with you and you do not suffer alone. We also have a book about Jesus that we can give you.
Third, many of you here might already know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. But, maybe, you did not get a chance to go to a service this Christmas time. We want to celebrate communion with you. Communion for us is just a way to remember Jesus and what he has done for us. It is a way us to remember that we are all followers of a mighty Savior. If you are a follower of Jesus, you can participate. This is completely voluntary. We will bring the bread and juice that symbolizes the body and blood of Jesus down the line and do participate if you want.

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