Sermon Text: Christmas 2018
A very rich man goes into a bar in New York City. This bar is famous for its world-class cocktails. The very rich man says to the bartender, “I’d like the world’s best martini.” The bartender says, “Well, sir, I can make you the world’s best, but it’s going to take a lot of time, and a lot of money.” The rich man replies, “Money is no object.”
So the bartender takes the man into a back room. There, he opens a safe and takes out two bottles. One has the world’s rarest gin, and the other has the world’s rarest vermouth. The rich man reaches for the bottles, but the bartender stops him. “Patience, sir. Now we must go to Italy.” “Italy?” asks the man. “Yes, Italy,” says the bartender.
So they fly to Florence, and then drive to a remote Tuscan hillside. There they find the world’s most prized olive tree. The bartender says, “Now we wait until the olives are perfectly ripe.” So they wait...and wait...and wait. Days later, the bartender picks two perfect olives and seals them in a hyperbaric chamber.
The rich man asks, “When do I get my martini?” “Patience, sir,” the bartender says. “For the final step, we must go to San Francisco.” “Really?” asks the rich man. “Yes,” says the bartender.
So they fly to San Francisco. They take a taxi to a hotel in the Mission District. They get a luxury suite with a full kitchen so that the bartender can finally make the perfect martini. “Almost done, sir. We have the perfect gin, the perfect vermouth, and the perfect olives. But the real secret is how one blends the ingredients. So we must wait again.” “Wait?” asks the rich man. “For what?”
“An earthquake, sir.”
The moral of the story is — forget perfection.
You can’t miss all the Christmas music they start playing on the radio and in stores around Halloween. You know what song I’m tired of? “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Because it’s not! At least for a lot of people. For many people, this is a hard time of the year. But we are expected to think it’s the most wonderful time of the year. And when it’s not, we feel even worse.
So I’ve got a suggestion about Christmas. Don’t go for perfect. Go for good enough.
Christmas is about the birth of the Christ Child. The light comes into an imperfect world. God meets us right where we are, in this messy, wonderful, painful world.
Jesus is the face of God. But think about what he experienced. He was born into poverty. He was often rejected. He was often misunderstood. He knew grief. He knew failure. And he even knew pain and death. His life was not as pretty as a Christmas card.
So I’m not talking about a perfect Christmas. I’m talking about something better:
A Christmas in which we are loved in spite of our imperfection.
A Christmas in which we love others in spite of their imperfections.
A Christmas in which God is born as a helpless baby
in order to be with us always in imperfection.
A perfect Christmas is a fantasy.
But a real Christmas is amazing grace.
We are loved in and through our imperfection.
And there is no better gift than that.