When you hear that God is love and that God so loved the world, is there something inside of you that breaks your heart just a little?
It's common for us, because we think we know ourselves so well, to believe that when God so loved the world, that means everyone except us. That when God is love, He is love only for those who deserve the kind of love that He is. We are very good at coming up with reasons why we ought to exclude ourselves, why the Bible isn't talking about us. Why God isn't talking about us when He talks about love.
So the question most of us have that we need to know is not really, is God love? or even does God so love the world? but does God love me?
And, well, He crossed heaven and earth to be with you, so...yeah. He does.
Yesterday, we said that we have hope because God Himself crossed this great distance that exists between us and Him, so we know that it's possible. Today, we have to recognize that He actually did cross this great distance that exists between us and Him...and that is love.
Not only is that love for all humanity (yes, including you), but look at the family into which He came. It was a poor family, doing their best to get by. Trying their best to be faithful, but faith is hard when you have barely enough for a sacrifice at all. They were young, inexperienced in the ways of the world. They were ridiculed for the things that they believed - an angel, of all things! If you were looking for a way for God to come into the world, this family would not have been it. Not by worldly eyes.
But God does it this way so that you know it's for you. So that you know that when He came to earth, He had someone exactly like you in mind.
See, we think it's all about the rich. About those with access. About those with good looks or economic means or standing in society. And if God had come into a family like this, it would be easy for us to look at the story and say, yeah, God isn't interested in someone lowly like me.
But He didn't come into a family like this. He came into a family like so many of our families - a family struggling. A family scraping by a couple of pennies just to buy a couple of doves just to give whatever small blessing they had to a baby they were promised but never conceived on their own. He came into a family of social outcasts, a family of hard work, a family of broken relationships. Remember that no one made room at the inn for Mary and Joseph in their hometown. These were the persons who should have known them best, and all they would offer them was a place in the barn.
And God's first word in all of it is blessed are you, Mary.
For here, I come.
That is great news for those of us who need to be loved this Christmas. Who need to know that God loves us. Who need to understand that when God so loved the world, yes, He meant even us. Because we are exactly the kind of poor, broken, outcast, misfit, beat-up, dragged-down, worn-out human beings to whom He came in a manger.