O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he
lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Our reading for today:
Isaiah 9: 2-7
Titus 2: 11-14
Luke 2: 1-20
Christmas and Easter pose possibly to most difficult challenges for preachers when it comes to preparing a meaningful message each year. The reason for this is simple, everyone already knows the story. We see the beginning at this time of the year as we remember and celebrate the coming of the Christ child and we marvel as God becomes incarnated and comes to dwell among men.
We see the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry as we follow him through his passion during Holy Week and eventually to his glorious resurrection on Easter morning. But the story never changes, so how do we find a meaningful way to tell these familiar stories one more time?
Last Sunday we listened as an angel came to a young girl and told her, “do not be afraid” that God had chosen her for a very special task. To her credit, Mary was willing to submit to God’s will and the story began.
Now here we are nine months later and Mary and Joseph have travelled from their home town to Bethlehem in order to be taxed. It’s April 15th and we are anxiously attempting to finish the last-minute completion of our tax return so that we can make that make a mad dash to the post office in order to have our return posted before midnight. Ever find yourself in that situation? You thought you had everything together and then you realized you had forgotten on important filing. There’s always a sense of anxiety on tax-day.
If that seemed nerve racking, think about how Joseph must have felt as tax day approached as he was making his way toward Bethlehem with a very pregnant young girl riding on a donkey. We can only imagine all that went through the mind of Mary. I suspect that she had have rather been almost anywhere else. But here they were, and Luke tells his readers that her time had come and she delivered her first born son.
I don’t know where you may be on the Christmas eve. I don’t know what your circumstances may be. For many this is a joyful time to be with family and friends, but for others it may be a time when we are forced to remember those loved one who are no longer here, and we miss them dearly. For all of us who have struggled this past year attempting to find a way to cope with a pandemic, maybe we all need to hear and reflect not on the 12 Days of Christmas but on the 12 Words of Christmas. “A Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”
I began by saying that we all know the story. We know about the shepherds and the angels. We know about the manger and the animals. We’ve heard it all before so let’s just take a moment to reflect on the meaning of those words and the significance they have for each of us. The savior of the world was born for you and me. For centuries, the prophets had foretold of one who would come and on this night over 2000 years ago the prophecy was fulfilled. Christ came into the world. God sent his son into the world so that through his suffering and death and resurrection you and I might have everlasting life.
You may know how the story begins and ends, but for a few moments today, let us all reflect once again on the joy that comes from the knowledge that God has provided a means for our salvation. And it all began with a tiny baby who was the Son of God. And it happened because God is good….all the time.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the holy sacrament of your body and blood. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this time receive you sacramentally, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were here with me and I unite myself with you fully. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen
A Prayer for the Church and Benediction:
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.