Christmas comes with stuff. This stuff can be physical like the endless mountain of cookies our coworkers give us to the long list of toys in our letters to Santa. Christmas stuff can also be sentimental, such as the family traditions that determine who hosts the yearly gathering and the order presents are opened. There's also Christmas stuff that covers every human emotion, from joy to sadness and grief. We might know exactly what our Christmas stuff is but we might carry other stuff that we don't even realize. Christmas is one of those events that brings all our stuff out into the open. And all that stuff impacts everything and everyone around us.

Our readings tonight also come with a lot of stuff. In our reading from Luke 2:1-20, there's a governor, an emperor, a field full of shepherds and an army of angels singing in the sky. Some of this stuff we might know well, like how there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn. But there's other stuff we might notice for the first time tonight. It might surprise us to learn that Syria once belonged to Rome and that Luke points to an additional census that once took place. We might finally ask how far it really was from Nazareth to Galilee (90 miles) and wonder how Mary made this journey while 9 months pregnant. The shepherds might jump out at us because, after they met the baby, they went back to their old way of life. Or we might suddenly wonder what a "heavenly host" actually is (answer: it's an army) and wonder why the Creator of the Universe would need one. There is a lot of stuff in the Christmas story but that story is more than just words on the page. As we re-tell this faith-filled story tonight, we create new stuff based on our reactions to the text. The birth in the stable, the songs of the angels, and the faithfulness of Joseph will cause different emotions to form within us. We might feel inspired or indifferent or somewhere in between. And those feelings are okay because the stuff of scripture is designed to generate additional stuff in us. This new stuff is rooted in whatever makes us exactly who we are because Christmas is about a God who chooses to get involved in all our stuff. The stuff of life is not strange to God nor are our experiences somehow too silly for God to experience too. God chose to experience all the stuff of our lives including what it’s like to be born, to grow up, to form relationships and experience heartbreak. God, through Jesus, decided to get involved with all the stuff that makes you, you. Because there's no part of your life that's unworthy of God's love. Whatever stuff you're carrying, know that Jesus is right there with you. And on this holy night, when we are surrounded by an incredible amount of Christmas stuff, know that Jesus will continue to give you all the stuff you need to know you are loved by him: his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his peace, his body and his very life.

Merry Christmas!