The Jesus Tracker
December 24, 2020 ~ Christmas Reflection ~ Rev. G. Scott Turnbrook
Have you been following his movements this evening? Have you been following his travels? Checking where he was last? Where he is headed next? Have you been following where Santa’s journeys have been this Christmas Eve? When my children were younger, we loved to log onto the Santa Tracker and see where Santa’s journeys were taking him. With time zones and an international date line to cross, Santa has a lot of ground to cover. It was amazing to see how much closer he was getting to us through the day. Because as he got closer and closer to BC, we needed to be home and asleep in order for him to arrive right? You can’t just be on Santa’s ‘nice list’, you also need to be asleep in order for him to come tonight! (That’s my public service announcement and gift to our young parents watching this evening)
As we gather for worship on Christmas Eve, I would like to consider the spiritual equivalent to the Santa Tracker. I wonder if there might be room for us to consider what I would like to call ‘The Jesus Tracker’. Here’s what I’m imagining: a device that we could pull out that would track the births of Jesus occurring throughout the world. We might consider where Jesus is being birthed in our various countries, in our various communities, in our families, and in our lives. Imagine, we could pull up a beacon and see it light up….evidence of Him there….and there….and there. The Jesus Tracker…as he is born in the hearts and lives of all who come and adore the newborn King.
So…if you pulled out your ‘Jesus Tracker’, where would you see him being born? As you ponder this question, I’ll offer a few of my own observations. This year our faith community offered the gift of Christmas to 27 people through our White Gift ministry. We were able to assist people in their purchasing of Christmas gifts and food in order that they might celebrate amidst the difficult year they had experienced. At the outset, we weren’t sure how to plan. In this pandemic year, how do you forecast how many families we can take on? How many families could we support? We knew that this had been a difficult year for us as a church, and many of our families as well. And we have become an ‘online church’! Yet, through the grace and generosity of so many, we were able to continue this ministry amidst a very challenging year. And…Jesus is born!
Another observation…Many of our brothers and sisters in our nearby community of Whalley spend much of their life on the street. Northwood has a tradition of filling shoeboxes with essentials for these men and women. The Shoebox ministry lovingly fills these boxes with toiletries, some reading materials, a few treats and other items that many of us take for granted. Similar to our pondering about White Gift, we wondered how this might go? Would we be able to gather up donations and support? Could we do a few boxes…a dozen? We gathered up enough donations for 90 shoeboxes to be lovingly filled and distributed. And…Jesus is born!
As powerful as it is to see new life through the continuing of established traditions, birth is also about new life. And this year, we experienced the birth of a new food ministry partnership. In a new partnership with the United Way, DIVERSEcity, the City of Surrey, and the Farmer’s Market cooperative, we have become the assembly and distribution point where food is reclaimed and packaged up into hampers for families who find themselves in need. Each week we are now packaging up 60 hampers with food that has been donated from grocers. Food nearing expiry or with damaged packaging is sorted, bagged up, and delivered. It has been exciting to see some of our Northwood people get involved along with members of the community. This ministry is a blessing of new life to families who have been directly affected by the pandemic. And in this new ministry…Jesus is born yet again!
I’ve been doing a lot of the talking here, births are so exciting to witness. It is exciting! But, I should be quiet and let you speak. Where have you seen Jesus born? Sometimes births occur in the most unexpected of places. In times of struggle, in times of pain, in times of uncertainty…Jesus can be born. When was a birth ever simple, or certain or serene? Have you experienced Jesus’ birth amidst some of your struggles? Where was Jesus born for you? Or…perhaps…without even realizing it, you have helped Jesus’ presence to be born through your kindness and compassion unto others. Were you a midwife helping Jesus be born for others? Sometimes, the palliative and hospice ward can be the place where compassionate care and unconditional love are truly birthed. And Jesus is born!
Jesus birth story is one where God sought to birth a new way….not one of oppressive rule, but a rule of love. It was to be a birth for all the people, not just the high and mighty. In fact, you would need to go to the lowly ghetto of Bethlehem in order to experience the birthing of that love.
So, let’s pick up our Jesus Trackers and see where Jesus is being birthed. You might be surprised, for that birth will be found…if we look. It will be found in the most unlikely of places…if we look. And if we look close enough…we will find that it is also being birthed in you.