Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Eve 2014

Click here for sermon audio

Merry Christmas!
And Thank you for being here tonight.
Thank you for taking the time
to remember what this day is all about.

When you love someone,
what do you do…to show them or express to them, your Love?

If you are a teenager falling in love for the first time,
or the mother a newborn child,
most of us want to show this love by simply saying,
"I love you."
And that’s a big deal…

It takes a lot to get to this point in a relationship, doesn’t it?

And this is exactly what God does for us tonight.
God’s actions bring into the world
the purest, most kindest Love
we will ever know.
Christmas is a love story.

And for thousands and thousands of years,
God has revealed His love for us, in story and action.

Of course, Love actually begins at creation –
in fact, the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth says
every human being is “loved” into life by God.

Throughout the Bible
God expresses his love for us –
by Word and examples..
but apparently this wasn’t enough.

So, God communicated to us
by taking every ounce of love he had,
and he sent it to us in the most fragile
and vulnerable of packages:
in the flesh of a newborn child.

The Word became flesh and lives among us.

But the trouble is…
many of our images today of this baby Jesus
are hopelessly colored by years of Hallmark cards…
or sentimental Anglo-American Christmas images –
which have weaken the harsh reality of this child’s birth.

Several years ago on Christmas Day,
a good friend of mine who is a priest in Tampa,
told me when she was getting ready for their service,
which included carols, dancing
and a living Nativity scene….

the people started to arrive,
and they were greeted by the sight of several street people
on the front steps of the church.

There were two which stood out…a man and woman with a shopping cart
and a bundle of rags.
Several people stopped to offer help
and some invited them in out of the cold.
But the homeless couple politely declined all offers.

Finally, one of the nervous vestry members approached my priest friend and said, 
"We've got a problem with these people."
He wanted to call the police and remove them.
So, a patrol car came by
and the couple were asked to move across the street
where they wouldn't disturb all the dressed up church people.

But at the end of the service…the big moment arrived:
Dancers dressed in white appeared in the back
to lead the Holy Family down the center aisle.

And just as Mary & Joseph entered
you could hear loud gasps from all over the church.
The Holy Family walking down the center aisle
was the homeless couple from the front steps.

The baby Jesus was the bundle of rags
they had held in their arms.
As the angels led the holy family toward the altar they wept,
as did most of the congregation.

Jesus entered the world as a homeless child,
in utter humility and great poverty.
Tonight, two thousand years later,
Jesus waits to enter our hearts, too
in the very same way.

He waits patiently to be invited into our life.
So that HE can walk along side us through it all…
the glorious, joyful days,
and those gut wrenching, unimaginable ones.

The Word became flesh and lives
with our men & women serving across the world…
on an aircraft carriers in Southeast Asia,
to some lonely Airman on duty right now
in Minot, North Dakota.

Tonight, we gather here in this beautiful church
and remember once again
the greatest story ever told…
“The Birth of the Savior of the World.”

And so as we journey to Bethlehem
let us now return our thanks and simply say…
“We love you Lord Jesus.
WE LOVE YOU – just as you love us.
And now, Look down from that bright sky
and stay by our side until morning is Nigh.”


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