So often in life timing does not work out all that well. This Christmas thousands of American soldiers are still stationed in Northern Iraq. They must be away from their homes this holiday season. At least 1,000 of those soldiers in Northern Iraq are women and among those women four of them have learned that they are expecting a child. It would seem the timing of their pregnancies could not have been worse. Can you imagine being a soldier, stationed in Iraq, only months away from becoming a mother?
Today there are neighbors, right here in this town, facing life crises. The timing could not possibly have been worse. Here in the midst of the Christmas cheer discovering the need to move in a new direction... to give up an abusive relationship... to throw away the bottle for good... to accept that the only truth in life comes from Christ. It seems like a tough time to be doing that... but actually the time is exactly right!
The time is right to embrace the good news of the angel's message. Time is right to hear that a Savior has been born for all people... for you. On the surface it doesn't appear that the timing for Jesus in Luke's Gospel was all that good for Mary and Joseph. Luke is intentional in letting us know the point in history God chooses to rip into the fabric of human events with the gift of Messiah. It was during the reign of the great Roman Emperor Augustus. At the time he issued an edict that the Empire would conduct a census. It was when Quirinius was governor of Syria. At that moment in history God acted, not the most convenient time for Mary and Joseph. For you see Joseph's family was from Bethlehem so the census required that he actually go to the town. 2000 years later there would have been internet registration.... but not then. Yet even so... the time was right.
Of course, wouldn't you know that Mary had to go into labor while they were in Bethlehem... on a night when there was no room at the inn. What terrible timing... ahhh... but the time was right. God worked to make it right. They needed to be in Bethlehem. The shepherds needed to hear the message. What seemed so imperfect became perfect because the right time was God's time.
Oh yes, the time is right. God will work through the lives of our soldiers in Iraq to hopefully, we pray, become catalyses for peace. God will comfort those four expectant soldiers and those babies may touch the lives of thousands. The time is right. For those facing crises... for those giving up the lies of the world and exchanging them for the truth of Jesus Christ... the timing is right... Tonight is the night.
For to us is born this day... in the city of David... a Savior... who is the Messiah... the Lord!
Tonight out there, somewhere, there is a man who has lost it all: His home, his job, his livelihood. Everything, except the van he sleeps in. And as people walk by along the sidewalk, close to where he has parked his van, he worries. He is scared. He does not want to be discovered. Cold and afraid, he chooses to stay where he is at: frozen in mind, body and soul.
The time is right... for the birth of Christ.