Another time, Elisha was on his way to Bethel and some little kids came out from the town and taunted him, “What’s up, old bald head! Out of our way, skinhead!” Elisha turned, took one look at them, and cursed them in the name of God. Two bears charged out of the underbrush and knocked them about, ripping them from limb to limb - forty-two children in all! Elisha went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria.
So, another Christmas Day is in the books. Our celebrations have been muted and private, perhaps a smattering of different folks but no large celebrations; at least I hope not. We have done it, by and large, without the hugs, without the revelry, without the toasts, and probably without some traditions which have been part of our lives for decades. But it hasn’t just been Christmas. Things have been different for months. I thought just last night that I did not do Tenebrae on Good Friday last April for the first time in 44 years. But we’re still here.
As opposed to the children who taunted Elisha’s bald head. This is perhaps one of my favorite pericopes in the Bible. (Yeah...look up that word.) There are many strange stories like this in the Bible that never get preaching exposure. They’re too difficult and too hard to explain. There are reasons that these stories made the final cut, though. We don’t know a lot of those reasons. Perhaps it was to show the power of the prophet, or to warn the people, or could even be something akin to the monster under the bed that children’s minds conjure up. I’m not sure that I’d like someone like Elijah OR Elisha walking around in my presence, I can tell you that. And perhaps some of the old Rabbis looked at these stories and said, “You know, God isn’t our buddy. God isn’t looking out for us like some helicopter parent. God is God. Things happen. Just because they’re different doesn’t mean that God has failed.”
Christmas has been different. Life is different. In some ways, it will never be the same. But God hasn’t failed. God still remains in the Christmas story: there is work to do. There is love to give. There is peace to bring about...in every part of every day of our lives. Christmas has not come to bring us anything. It has come...just like every year...to send us out. Merry Christmas...especially to you bald heads!
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him: give him my heart.
May our hearts still be the best gift we offer to Christ, and to the world. Amen.
Pastor Rick Moser