Original post at http://loveradically.com/2012/12/24/christmas-eve-homily-2012/
Lord, remind us that, like Mary, each one of us is a bearer of your Good News. We are called to proclaim hope, peace, joy, and love in your name. Open our hearts and our spirits today to receive with great joy the love that you have for us. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
One of the more popular modern, secular Christmas songs was written and recorded by former Beatle John Lennon and one of the lyrics is the title for tonight’s homily, “And so this is Christmas.” It is not your regular cheerful Christmas song; instead it reminds us that Christmas is not the joyous time for every person. Some say, “And so this is Christmas” with more resignation than rejoicing.
For those who have lost loved ones in the past year or many years ago and Christmas is never quite the same again. Somewhere in a family gathering there will be a moment when hearts are torn because the place at the table is empty where a precious loved once sat and cherished traditions are robbed of their joy. Where will we have Christmas morning? Who will read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas? Who will give me the itchy underwear and socks? And so this is Christmas.
Tonight in the city of Bethlehem, security is on high alert because in the West Bank the threat of violence is always near, even on a night as peaceful as this. Some might consider the crowding worshipers at the Church of the Nativity as an easy target. And so this is Christmas.
Somewhere in Afghanistan, a solider or a Marine is on patrol. His mind is not preoccupied with turkey and mistletoe, gifts and carols, or candles and lights on the tree. Every sense is alert. Every nerve is on end. “Will there be a roadside bomb, a suicide bomber, or a sniper?” Celebration is the farthest thing from his mind. Survival is his all-consuming thought. And so this is Christmas.
Somewhere a child and their family huddle outside a rescue mission to get a spot for Christmas dinner. Last year they ran out early because there were too many people and not enough donations. On December 26th, it will be back to the streets, back to wondering where the next meal comes from. And so this is Christmas.
Two thousand years ago, a man and his very pregnant fiancé are forced by a Roman decree to make a perilous journey over the mountains to an ancestral home. The long journey would be difficult for anyone, but especially for a woman who could give birth any day. They get to where they are going only to find no room at the inn. And so this is Christmas.
The woman goes into labor and the man does all he can in the midst of the animals and the filth to comfort her. The woman screams and a baby cries. He is laid into a manger, which is a feeding trough for animals. It is filled with old, molding hay. This is his newborn bassinet. A baby cries and the world changes. And so this is Christmas.
Poor shepherd watch over their sheep and smell just as bad as the sheep. And then an explosion of light and the song of the whole heavenly host shatter the calm black of the night. The shepherds are scared to death, but the angel says “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” And so this is Christmas.
The shepherds follow a Christmas star and find the mother and her child wrapped in rags because that was all she could find. The rest of the world doesn’t know. There is no announcement to the Emperor or the governor of Judea. The Son of God the Most High is born and the only ones who are told are the lowly shepherds. And so this is Christmas.
You see, Jesus was not born into a perfect world and the world still isn’t perfect. I truly believe that God does it this way to experience the imperfection of humanity. He wanted to know what it was truly like to be a human being in a broken world. The world is still broken, but God understand because he’s been there. And because God is with us and because of this birth in a dark, dank stable and 33 years later a death that also goes virtually unnoticed one day this broken world will be restored and redeemed. God didn’t send Jesus into a “Cinderella World,” where everything ends happily ever after as Cinderella and Prince Charming go riding into the sunset. God didn’t send Jesus into that kind of world. He sent Jesus into a world filled with Roman Centurions, filled with heartache and hardship, filled with poor peasants who birthed their babies in stables. That’s the kind of world into which God sent Jesus, and sends Jesus still today. Jesus comes to a world where people mourn and grieve, where hearts are broken and sin reigns. He comes because He is the answer for that kind of world! And so this is Christmas.
The good news the angels sing over us, however, is, “A Savior has been born to you.” A Savior has been born for us! We needed rescuing, and God has provided a rescuer. We needed delivering, and God has provided a deliverer. We needed redeeming, and God has provided a redeemer. We can be forgiven. We can be pardoned. We can experience reconciliation with God. We can become sons and daughters of God. A Savior has been born to us! And so this is Christmas.
The Lord has come into the midst of the mess we’ve made of things, and is at work to bring the broken pieces back together and make His creation whole again. The Lord is creating peace—wholeness, rightness, righteousness, healing, strength—and inviting all of humanity whom He graces with His love into His peace! The angels announced peace. Jesus is our hope because He is our peace, who has broken down every obstacle to wholeness and holiness, is making all things new, and fulfilling all the promises of God for you and for me. And so this is Christmas!
Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is our Messiah, our Peace. Jesus is our Lord. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” What does the angelic announcement of Jesus’ Lordship means for us? In keeping with messianic prophecy its significance is simply this: Jesus is our hope because He is Lord, the only answer for our need. And so this is Christmas…Merry Christmas, let us pray.
God, we see your light shining in the darkness.
We hear the Christmas Angels.
We behold your promises fulfilled
in the birth of this wondrous child.
May this story become real in our lives.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
*Prayers Courtesy of Ministry Matters
*Homily Inspired and Some Excerpts taken by sermon written by Darrik Acre for Preacher’s Magazine.