Hebrews 1: 1 – 4 He Came for All December 26, 2021


Introduction to the Scripture: The letter to the Hebrews opens with a joyful proclamation: God’s word has come to dwell among us, in the life of Jesus.  In earlier days, God had spoken through the Hebrew prophets, but now he is speaking through his son.  We don’t know who wrote the letter to the Hebrews, but it’s clear that the writer was convinced that Jesus is the shining reflection of God’s glory.  Not only that: he continues to sustain the world through his powerful word.


He Came for All

Hebrews 1: 1 – 4

(preached December 26, 2021)


When the day after Christmas is a Sunday, pastors can suffer from fatigue.  I’m no exception.  Strangely enough, though, sometimes when I’m tired I get new insights.  It’s as if my tired brain lets go of my usual way of thinking, and I’m open to different ways of looking at things.  A woman named Harriet Richie also found a new way of looking at things.  It happened on a Christmas Eve not long ago.  Something that happened in her family’s life that night brought her new understanding of what Christmas is all about.


Harriet and her family were on their way home from church after the late Christmas Eve service.  They decided to stop somewhere for a late night breakfast.  As it happened, the only place open that late on Christmas Eve was a truck stop at the interchange of a nearby highway.

As they pulled into the parking lot of the truck stop, a couple of big diesels were rumbling outside.  Inside, a few truckers sat at the counter.  The place smelled like bacon grease and cigarette smoke.  A jukebox played a mournful country song.  A few lights blinked in the window.  A heavy-set man stood behind the counter, wearing an apron spotted with grease stains.  The family squeezed into a booth.  A waitress sauntered over.  Her nametag said “Rita.”  She managed a weary smile and handed them menus.


Harriet took off her fur-lined gloves.  She looked around.  She felt out of place.  She also felt like a bit of a snob.  Her family had just come from an inspiring and joyful Christmas Eve service.  Soon they would be heading to their comfortable home for the night.  They would breathe in the fragrance of their beautifully decorated tree.  They would fall asleep dreaming of the fun they would have opening gifts in the morning.  Harriet imagined that one day they would look back with a laugh and say to each other, “Remember the Christmas we ate breakfast at that truck stop?  Remember that awful music and those tacky lights?”


She looked out the window and saw an old Volkswagen van drive out up front.  A young man with long hair, wearing jeans and sneakers, got out.  He walked around and opened the door for a young woman.  The woman opened the back door and lifted a baby out of the car seat.  They hurried inside and took a booth near Harriet and her family.  Rita, the waitress, took their order.  The baby began to cry.  The parents tried to settle him down, but nothing they did seemed to help.  Rita reached over to the mother and held out her arms.  “Sit down and drink your coffee, hon,” she said.  “Let me see what I can do.”  She gently took the wailing baby in her arms.


It was obvious that Rita had done this many times before with her own brood.  She began talking and walking around the restaurant.  She showed the baby to one of the truckers.  The man began whistling and making silly faces.  The baby stopped crying.  Rita showed the baby the blinking lights on the window and the lights on the jukebox.  She brought the baby over to Harriet’s table.  “Just look at this little darlin’,” she said.  “Mine are all so big and grown.”  The man behind the counter came out and brought a pot of coffee to the table.  As he refilled their mugs, Harriet felt tears well up in her eyes.  Her husband wanted to know what was wrong.


“Nothing,” she told him.  “Just…Christmas.”  She reached in her purse for a Kleenex and a quarter.  She told the children, “Go and see if you can find a Christmas song on the jukebox.”

When the children were gone, Harriet turned to her husband and said, “He would come here, wouldn’t he?”

“Who?” her husband asked.

“Jesus,” Harriet said.  “Suppose Jesus were born in this town tonight, and God had to choose where he would be born, and the choices were our neighborhood, the church, or this truck stop.  It would be here, wouldn’t it?”  Her husband didn’t answer right away.  He looked around the place and looked at the people.  Finally, he said, “Yeah, that’s right.  Probably here or maybe a homeless shelter.”


“That’s what bothers me,” Harriet said.  “When we first got here, I felt sorry for these people.  I felt sorry for them because I thought they probably aren’t going home to lovely houses with wreaths on the doors and candles in the windows.  They probably aren’t going home to houses with beautiful trees inside, with piles of presents underneath.  And listening to that awful music, I thought, I’ll bet nobody here has even heard of Handel’s Messiah.  But now I think that, more than any place I know, this is where Christmas is.  This is where Jesus would be born.  But I don’t belong.”


Later, as they walked to the car, her husband put his arm around her.  “Remember,” he reminded her, “the angel said, ‘I bring good news of great joy to ALL people.’”


As Harriet’s husband knew, the good news of great joy is for all people.  The good news is for rich and poor: for people who stand in line at the ski lift at Loon Mountain, and people who stand in line at the unemployment office in Worcester.  The great joy is for the woman working out at the gym, and the woman sitting at home, waiting for the doctor to call with test results.  The good news of great joy is for folks at the table in the soup kitchen, and folks at the bar at the Ritz Carlton.


The angel said, “I bring good tidings of great joy for ALL people.”  So, my friends, if you only remember one thing on this day after Christmas, remember, Jesus came for all of us.  And may your day be merry and bright.





Rev. Elva Merry Pawle

Christmas I