Christmas Eve 2017
Gospel of Luke 2:1-20
2In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should
be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was
governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went
from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called
Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He
went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting
a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she
gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a
manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their
flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the
Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do
not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the
people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,
the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of
cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude
of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest
heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 15 When the angels had
left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now
to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made
known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child
lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told
them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds
told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her
heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard
and seen, as it had been told them.
On this night, there are two important things of which I am aware: this is
Christmas Eve, and you didn’t come here to listen to a long-winded priest
expounding a theological defense of Jesus’ birth narrative. It’s not a time for
dogmatic rationalizations. It’s a night of mystery and wonder, joy and pure love.
There are only two observations from Jesus’ birth story that I’d like to
briefly share with you tonight.
Mary was invited by God to become theotokos. Theotokos is a Greek word
meaning God-bearer. Mary was invited to lodge, safeguard, nurture and birth
God’s special Son, Jesus. She welcomed him into her womb, and into her heart
and soul. Mary welcomed into her life God’s promised Holy Child. She embraced
Jesus as her own precious gift of creative love.
You and I can never house the Holy Child in a similar way as Blessed Mary.
Yet, God invites us to welcome Jesus being born in us – in our heart, in our mind
and in our soul. We, too, are given the invitation to become God-bearers so that
the Good News of Emmanuel, God living with us, will continually resound,
bringing joy, peace and healing through us as we go about our lives in this frantic
and fragmented, foolish and misdirected world.
Jesus is born. Angels are singing. Great joy for all people is freely given.
There’s a special movie we’ve watched at our house every Christmas for 23
years. I absolutely adore it. In the movie, there is a song that goes like this:
“It is the season of the heart
A special time of caring
The ways of love made clear
It is the season of the spirit
The message, if we hear it
Is make it last all year” (“It feels like Christmas” from The Muppet Christmas Carol)
On this Holy Night, hear the joyous, angelic message; welcome Jesus being
born in you; let the Good News of God’s love resound in your life and let it last all
year – until we renew it again next Christmas.
I wish you all a never-ending celebration of the gift of Christmas – Jesus!