Reopening our doors

Good Tidings of Great Joy

Good Tidings of Great Joy
December 24, 2015
Passage: Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2:1-20;Psalm 96, Titus 2:11-14
Service Type:

Imagine this: a few hours ago I was walking up the hill to my house for a bite to eat. I usually go up 1st; I like that it’s quieter than Queen Anne and I tell myself it’s not so steep (which is probably not true). Tonight I was the only one walking up that hill. It was as if everyone else in the neighborhood was at dinner or at church. I heard footsteps behind me, running.


Two male voices yelled: “hey! Hey, you!” Then two guys came up right behind me. They weren’t yelling any more, they were huffing and puffing from running up the hill. One of them said: “excuse me, ma’am?” There wasn’t anyone else around, so I turned. Right away I thought they were the kind of guys you wouldn’t necessarily want to run into if you were a woman alone on a dark street. I was a little disarmed. At first I thought they might be guys I know from our labyrinth or around this block, but I didn’t know them. They smelled like they hadn’t done laundry for a while. I recognized the sad eyes of people who had lost and suffered.


“Ma’am, please….something just happened…we need to tell someone.” I was intrigued. Their eyes were clear. One of them was shaking a bit. I couldn’t tell if he was tweaking on something or just anxious. Or excited.


Here’s what they told me:


“We were hanging around the shelter on Roy Street. They don’t open until 10, but we keep hearing that they’re going to start opening early, with dinner and everything, so we were hanging around.”


The other guy interjected: “We used to hang at Met Market, but they told us we had to go.”


The first guy continued: “Suddenly this dude appears. Weird looking. Rough, you know, but not in the usual way. Dressed weird”


“And those eyes,” the other one said. “Tell her about his eyes.”


“You tell her.”


“Okay. He had these eyes, pale blue, real bright, like, as though light was shining out of them. I never seen that before.”


“But even besides the eyes”—the more talkative one continued—“I mean, he was like some kind of otherworldly dude. Not with wings and all that, but just…some kind of celestial being. Dude was definitely not from around here.”


His friend gave him a look. “Celestial being???”


“Hey, man, I didn’t have six years of catholic school for nothing!”


I got more curious.


“So did he speak to you?”


“Yeah, yeah….he said ‘Look! Look up! Look at that star.’ And we looked up and whoa, there was a star, through the street lights. A star in the sky. He thought it was a streetlight or the space needle or something”—he said, pointing to his friend—“but it wasn’t, it was a star, to the north of us.”


The story-teller went on: “’See that star?’ the weird angel dude said. ‘It’s over this homeless shelter called Mary’s Place in North Seattle. You want to go there and see the Savior who has just been born.’


Now I wondered whether maybe they’d just had too much Thunderbird. But usually I can smell that stuff from ten feet away, and I didn’t smell it on either of them. The more talkative of the two men continued:


“Ma’am, to be honest, we were scared. Like, this was weird. But as if he knew what we were thinking, he said: ‘don’t be afraid, guys. This is good news. In fact, this is what we call, where I come from, good tidings of great joy.’ Tidings, he said. Now I know the dude’s not from around here. So we’re like, okay then. And then he starts saying all this stuff that I remember from somewhere—“the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. A great light. And a child has been given to us. A child, but at the same time, a wonderful counselor or something. Like I need another counselor.”


His friend snickered, and then added: “But he was talking about God really coming down here, in a good way.”


I asked them what happened next.


“Well, the weird dude left. He just disappeared. Pop. Gone. We’re like, so? Now what? I thought maybe we should go get something to eat. Like maybe the shelter on Roy Street wasn’t going to open for a while. But this guy, he digs into his pockets and finds a couple of bus tickets he got from the church down the street and says we should go up to the family shelter called Mary’s Place.”


“‘No way. They’re not going to let us in there. That’s for women and kids.’”


“Yeah, but maybe we can hang around outside. Maybe we’ll get a look. It’s not like we have someplace we gotta be. Not like anyone is, you know, holding dinner for us.” He laughed when he said this, but it was kind of a hollow laugh.


“Yeah, but, no way,” said the other one. “Even if God is sending a savior, finally, no way is he going to be born in a homeless shelter. Those places are noisy, full of people weepin’ and wailin,’ man. And dirty. And they smell ‘cause of all the diapers. God wouldn’t be born in a place like that!” This was the most words I’d heard him string together in the time we’d been standing there.


“But what if he is???” the other one said. “Wouldn’t that be the coolest thing, if God sent a savior to be born into a crazy mess? What kind of God would that be??”


“That would be all right, man.”


“So what’re you going to do?” I asked. “Are you going up there to see?” I was beginning to sound as crazy as they sounded. But I really, really wanted them to say yes.


They looked at each other, then at their feet.


“I’ll go if you go,” one said to the other. Then they looked at me. “Would you come with us?”


I thought about it for a second. I really did. “I think you guys should definitely go,” I said. “I can’t go. I have church.”


“Aw, c’mon,” they said. “You know you want to go with us!”


“So here’s the deal,” I said. “You go, and I’ll go to church. And I’ll tell them all about you, and what the angel said to you, and how you got on that bus and went to see the Savior. And when you’re over there, know that we’re here, thinking about you, thinking about the Savior, and rejoicing.”