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“God with us – the one-way trip”/ Sermon for December 24th, 2023, Christmas Eve / Hope Lutheran Church, Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht

Text: Luke 2 – Christmas Eve

Theme: God with us – The One-Way trip

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Intr –   Launched in 2013, it attracted more than 100,000 people eager to enroll and participate in it. It was billed as an adventurous, game-changing, innovative project. They called it Mars One. What was it all about? It was about a trip to Mars. The objective was to select and prepare 24 people that would undertake the mission of colonizing the Red Planet. Those 24 astronauts would embark on a trip to the planet next door, which sounded like a fantastic, once in a lifetime opportunity.[1]

But here is the thing about that experience: it was a one-way trip. Whoever would pay the 40 American dollars enrollment fee and, after all the tests, would make it to the 24 chosen ones to buckle up and rocket away to Mars knew that they would never come back to Earth again.

“Hum, that’s interesting” I can almost hear right now. “There’s a handful of people I’d gladly pay their ticket to ride on that trip”. Maybe a couple names just popped up in our minds… Well, in the end, Mars One was a failure, basically a scam, according to Forbes.[2]  It went bankrupt in 2019. However, a project like that leaves us with a couple questions as food for thought, especially because this has been a dream of humanity, and one of these days it might get traction and become true.

1 – Leaving the Planet

Why on Earth would more than one hundred thousand people desire to abandon our Planet? Would they think, or would we think, that living in a completely different place, a completely different planet would make life more promising, happy, or inspiring?

One answer could be “love for science”, or and the desire to make a contribution to humanity. Fair enough, that could be true.

My hunch? The whole “humanity is doomed” and “I have lost faith in humanity” talk. You know, everyone else thinks that everyone else’s attitudes are intolerant, hypocritical, harmful. Everybody thinks that everybody else is an individualistic, consumerist, self-centered hedonist person who lacks compassion for their neighbour and that’s why humanity is doomed, so full of problems. Humanity is lost. “So now, this is the perfect opportunity to create a new and better world, since us, the 24 chosen, are not that type of people. Let’s get away from here and start it all over again.”

You don’t need very much to make this theory crumble though. All it takes is one of those other 23 to be a neighbour I dislike, a religious guy I don’t tolerate. The guy who hit on my girlfriend or the girl who had stolen my boyfriend. The guy who keeps posting those intolerant things or that cool lady who wants everybody else but her to share their stuff with the poor… You get it. Those 24 elected are part of the same society as we all are. They will take to Mars the same essence we have here. They will bring with them sin and its consequences, including death, wherever they may go. It would be naïve at best, and totally wrong at work to think our morals is so superior that we can go to a different planet and start there a better world for all that the one we already have here.

 2 – GOD WITH US in our planet

At Christmas, we celebrate the exact opposite to that. At Christmas we celebrate the Son of God taking His trip right to the heart of the Earth.

God could have thought it differently. He might have concluded that, since Humanity is rotten by sin, completely lost in its ways, there’s no reason to place efforts here anymore. He might have lost His faith in Humanity. He might have thought of restarting over again. Leave the Earth behind, and try something new in Uranus, Pluto, or perhaps even outside the Milky Way, far way enough from sinful humankind.

But He didn’t. Christmas night is the night in which God fulfilled his promise of coming right here, where we are. He decided to send His only Son in His trip to this Earth. The story of Christmas is the story of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, coming to walk this Earth, to be in this World, to be a part of our society. Christ came to save this World. He didn’t abandon the Earth, but came straight to it, to be a part of our lives. He came to bring hope and salvation to a world most certainly broken and rotten by sin and death mankind. He didn’t look away but decided to be here and see things through our humans’ eyes.

He is the Baby of the Manger who became the Proclaimer of Repentance and Forgiveness. The Proclaimer became The Man on the Cross. The Man on the Cross became The Risen Lord. All of this on this very same Earth you and I walk on every single day. He came to a fallen World because He loved the World. He came to the Earth because here is where His Father placed humanity. Think about it: God did not want to be in any other place in the whole universe but our Planet. He wanted to become one of us. He wanted to walk with us, to smile and cry like us, sleep and run like us. He willingly gave His life the way none of us could do, so that the whole Earth may come to know that He is the Way. The One Way.

He loves us no matter where we are, even if a trip to Mars comes true. Even if some of us leave the Planet to live there, Jesus will still love them. That is the assuredness that knows no time and place. Actually, if there is something somebody should want to take to Mars with them it would be God’s Word, His love and forgiveness, so that they may live as real humans who need a real God, everywhere and anywhere.

         Jesus did not look away. He became the Way. He decided to take a one-way trip: he went to His Cross to bring us what we can’t find anywhere else in the universe: hope, comfort, and peace. This way he gave us forgiveness and peace for our one-way trip on this Earth. A trip that is also a one-way trip towards life eternal, where we will live with Him forever.

Now, let’s concede that those going on a one-way trip to Mars would do it out of love for science and in a desire to sacrifice one’s life for progress’ sake; they are going that far on behalf of the future of mankind. Not too bad then. If one thinks that could be their mission of a lifetime then possibly that trip would be a passport to an unprecedent legacy. However, when we look around, we see lots of opportunities right here to do good to humankind. We see many earthlings who need care, love, kindness. There are many people around us who feel lonely, in sorrow, depressed. There are many people losing faith in humanity, losing faith in themselves, losing faith in God.  People who need forgiveness. People who need to connect or to reconnect with the Savior born in Bethlehem that brings Peace on Earth – not on Mars – peace on Earth. We see even a planet, an environment that cries aloud for help against its predatory, expendable exploration and the running of its resources.

The bottom line is that we don’t need to look to the sky to look for an opportunity to leave a legacy to mankind. All we need is to look around. Jesus sends us to do a once in a lifetime trip…to the Earth. To our city, To our neighbourhood, to our own family. Perhaps we won’t change the world, or we won’t be known worldwide. But I am sure we will make the difference in someone’s world, with the Gospel of Hope in Christ. It points us to spread this Hope and care over Earth’s surface, while we wait for our One-Way trip straight to the arms of the Savior That’s when we’ll for sure leave this World behind to live in the New Earth and New Heavens.

On an additional note, if we say that this one-way trip is the perfect opportunity to restart, to explore, to be different… that is quite ironic. Because that trip already exists. By faith we do have the one-way free trip to a better place. Not only better, but perfect. It is not only for 24, not even for 100 thousand. It is for everybody. It is the trip to eternity.

 

Cc – Christmas: Jesus comes to Earth. To be right here with us. The One Way to God. The One Way to the peace, forgiveness and love we desire for our lives and for the lives of everyone. Rejoice! Jesus is Born! The One King, the One Saviour, the One Way to the Father comes to give us the possibility of living in the Father’s Hands. And I guarantee you: there is no better and safer place to be in the entire universe. Amen.

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[1] https://www.mars-one.com/

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathanocallaghan/2019/02/11/goodbye-mars-one-the-fake-mission-to-mars-that-fooled-the-world/?sh=191da6632af5

 

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

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THE MARGARET TOWRISS’ MEMORIAL SERVICE AND RECEPTION

This Saturday, February 24th, we will hold The Memorial Service, followed by a Reception, for Margaret Towriss, wife of our former Pastor Rev. Ron Towriss, and co-founder of Hope Lutheran School.  Given the impact of her legacy both in Church and community, we anticipate a large attendance for both events. Therefore, we wish to share general information about the events with those attending in person.

SERVICE

-Memorial Service: 1:00PM @ Hope Lutheran Church (3151 York Street)

-Church capacity: aprox. 300

-Overflow area: As the Sanctuary and the Narthex become full, there will be an overflow area in four classrooms in the South annex for those willing to watch the Service together.

-Livestream: the Service will be livestreamed on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hopelcspoco

-Parking lot: It will be open on a “First come, first served” basis. When full, it will be closed, and people are invited to park in the adjacent streets and in the neighbourhood. However, drivers can still drive through to drop of passengers by the Church door, and then drive away.

-Overflow Parking: We have graciously obtained the permission from the Ecole Pionniers to use their Parking lot as overflow parking. Hope’s School Bus will be available for shuttling people from that parking lot to the Church from 12pm-4pm. Address: 1618 Patricia Ave

-Memorials: The Towriss family’s suggestion is that memorials be directed to The Hope Lutheran Bursary Fund. A Memorial box to deposit your donation will be available at the Church, as well as QR codes printed in the Church bulletin.

RECEPTION:

-Event: Following the Service we will have a standing reception in the gymnasium (since there’s no room for tables for such a large attendance). However, coffee stations will be placed in other areas of the building, allowing attendants to spread out more comfortably.

-Chairs – Several dozen chairs will be available around the Gym’s Court, which we hope will be left open for seniors and people with special needs.

-Space: During the reception, attendants may feel free to make use of our facilities as needed - Gymnasium, Narthex, Sanctuary and South Annex.

Hope Lutheran Church and School and the Towriss family thank you in advance for your understanding of the exceptional circumstances of both events. But especially, for your presence and support. Thank you!