December 24, 2011: Christmas Eve

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED BABE OF BETHLEHEM!

TEXT: Luke 2: 1-20

Dearly Beloved By The Baby Jesus:

Where are you, right now? “Well Pastor, I’m at church on Christmas Eve listening to your sermon.” I’ll ask my question differently. Where are you, right now?—Are you frazzled, or tired, or here because someone expects you to be? Are you glad that Christmas has finally arrived so that it may be over with soon and “we can get back to normal.”? Are you sitting there happy that the church decorations are beautiful, semi-focused on what someone else is wearing, and planning out your next few hours of family celebrations? Where is your mind, where is your heart, where is your faith, where is your focus at this exact moment on Christmas Eve as we listen to St. Luke’s famous account of Jesus’ birth?

Yes, I know we’re all human. Yes, I know the modern attention span has shrunk in proportion to the invasive spread of narcissism. Yes, I know you’ve all heard Luke’s words before and most likely you can repeat them almost verbatim. But, do your heart and your head both realize that all this applies directly to you? Do you realize as you listen to Luke that you are a traveling pilgrim alongside Mary and Joseph as they journey to Bethlehem? Do you find yourself watching them being turned away by the innkeeper and shunted out back? Are you one of those shepherds warming yourself by the fire in the blackness of a Judean night? Do you feel stunned at the angel’s appearance and message? Do you take to heart that wondrous news that the Infinite God is now born and contained in finite flesh, lies in a manger, and wants you to worship Him because He has come to buy back your soul from the darkness of death and eternal despair? Do you hear those angel choirs singing and realize that they are singing for Him and directly to you? Do you find yourself—both mentally and emotionally, walking alongside your fellow shepherds to the manger, congratulating Mary and Joseph, and experiencing inner awe when you gaze upon the Eternal Son of God? Do you feel just as compelled as those ancient shepherds to share this amazing truth: “That today a Savior has been born to you, Who is Christ the Lord?”

I’ll bet every adult here can remember back to some special Christmas Eve when they were very, very young. I’ll bet that memory is full of happiness, excitement, a lot of family love, presents, and just feels special because you felt special that night. When we think of Christ’s birth, we think how special and unique it was for those who directly experienced it. How their hearts must have pounded, how their eyes must have widened, how their hearts got caught in their throats, and how alive, truly alive, they must have felt?! For God’s angels talked directly to them! God’s Son was shown directly to them! God’s love beyond telling, was proclaimed to each of them!

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord…Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” That message wasn’t a one-shot, now it’s over, the shepherds were privileged to hear it, but you’re not, kind of thing. No, God the Holy Spirit speaks those same words to you tonight. From God’s vantage point, those words are just as real to and for you as they were to all who grouped around the manger. The Baby Jesus’ favor rests upon you. His love is directed right at you. His forgiveness and His Godly peace offering is extended in His little hand to you!

You see, Jesus hasn’t really changed one iota since the night of His birth in Bethlehem. As the Bible says: “Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” All His gifts, favor, and blessings of that night remain in effect for us this night. So, I’ll ask you again: “Where are you, right now?” I’m in the timeless world of Christ’s joyous birth. Join me by making the Christmas Story your own story, too. Amen