January 8, 2019
Behold ~ Christmas Eve Sermon 2018
Please pray with me.
God of mangers and palaces, of shepherds and kings, reveal yourself to us here in the mystery and magic of the season.
Free us to see the signs of your promise and hear the whispers of good news.
May we join the songs of joy that proclaim to the world your presence among us.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
Behold! I bring you 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.
The scripture translation that we use, that you just heard Caleb read does not say ‘Behold.’
Instead, the writers of the Newly Revised Standard Version of the bible decided to say “See.”
In studying this passage last week with the Women’s Bible study group, we were intrigued by the difference in the translations.
We were unanimous in our belief that the good news of Jesus Christ coming into our lives should be announced with something more than ‘See.’
So tonight, on this holy night, I declare to you, Behold!
Of course, ‘behold’ means to see, but it seems to have more gravitas.
When I say ‘Behold’ it calls your full attention to something that is awe inspiring and tonight, that is God incarnate, the word made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.
Tonight is a night to feel awe;
To marvel at God’s amazing power;
To wonder at the miracle of a baby born to a poor, young, unmarried woman transforming the entire world.
Tonight, on this Christmas Eve in the years 2018, we quake with the shepherds and fall to our knees in humble adoration like the wise men.
Tonight is a holy night.
I hope that is why you are here tonight.
I hope that your faith has brought you here.
I hope that the wonder and the awe of the Christmas story bring you here.
I hope that you are here because the bells and the music and the decorations remind you that you are a Christian.
On this holy night, we gather to retell the story of Jesus’ birth, to confirm that we have made a choice, through our baptism, to follow the ways of Christ, or perhaps you are here because someone you love has made such a commitment.
I welcome you to our faith community tonight and I pray that the joy of the season will prove transformative for you.
We lit the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love to acknowledge our desire for these wonderful gifts from God.
Tonight we hope for a compassionate world.
We welcome the Prince of Peace and pray that all the world will one day experience the peace that Christ promises.
We sing these joyful refrains to fan the spark of belief that we carry.
Belief in an awe-inspiring, loving God who created every living being.
Belief in God brought to life in a baby, born in a manger, to teach us how to live, to radically transform the world.
Belief in a Holy Spirit that permeates our lives, bringing strength and comfort in this tumultuous world.
Christmas is the story of God intervening in our human lives and turning things upside down.
I am reminded of the refrain from ‘Canticle of Turning:’
My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn.
God’s comes into our world one person at a time.
Communities, nations and the whole earth are impacted, but it is to the individual that God comes.
In each of our lives we have the opportunity to experience God’s coming.
We also have the responsibility to acknowledge the places where we might resist or ignore God’s desire to enter our lives.
When we find ourselves growing more aware of God’s presence and purpose in our daily routines;
Where we discover new capacities for compassion, humility, simplicity and joy;
Where we find ourselves becoming more whole in spite of the struggles of living in this world;
It is then and there that we have seen God’s coming to us.
Where we remain stuck in destructive attitudes and habits;
Where we continue to allow our selfishness and fear to break down relationships;
When we fail to allow our eyes to be opened to God’s image in others;
These are the places we have failed to welcome the Christ Child into our lives.
Ultimately, what the incarnation tells us, dramatically and powerfully, is that Christ came not just to get us into heaven, but to bring heaven to this earth.
To the extent that our lives reflect this heaven – to the extent that we become more Christ-like and just in our own daily lives – we are the blessed ones to whom God has, once again, come.
On this Christmas Eve, I pray that you realize that God can make a difference in your life.
I pray that you will open your hearts to make room for the Christ.
My friends, faith is a choice you make.
You choose to model your life on that of Jesus Christ.
You choose to be a person of compassion, kindness, humility, and integrity.
The point of Christmas is not so much that we worship the baby, but that we follow the baby in his mission to establish God’s dream on the earth.
Richard Rohr says, that’s why Jesus never says, “Worship me.”
What he says is “Follow me.”
One poet captured the feeling of Christmas with these words:
“We imagine a world where peace and justice
are the ordinary realities of life;
We dream of a planet where giving and sharing
are second nature to all people;
We envision an earth where joy and celebration
fill the news and our lives;
It may seem like a delusion,
but we have an incredible hope!
We hope in the One who has come:
who proclaimed such a world,
and who gave his life for it;
We hope in the One who is always coming:
surprising us with the presence,
and the restoring work, of God;
We hope in the One who will come:
in every age, to every generation,
until this dream has come true.
We have an incredible hope, O God,
and we praise you for it!
I say to you on this Holy Night: “Behold! Your World is about to turn.”
(O Holy Night – Andrea)
Let us pray.
Gracious and holy God you come to us this night as a baby.
Yet we know that you come to us in so many other ways – in the faces of our beloved;
in the cries of those wandering the earth this Christmas searching for a home;
in the prophetic voices of those working for justice and peace in our world.
Help us, O God, to recognize you in our lives.
Grant us the grace, we pray that we might embody your love and compassion every day.
On this Holy Night we ask that you enter our hearts and transform us.
Help us to be people of hope; people of peace; people of joy; people of love.
Hear our prayers tonight for those whom we love.
For those who are sick, we pray for healing.
For those who mourn, we pray for comfort.
For those who are unable to feel the joy of Christmas we pray that your Holy Spirit might find them.
Hear us now in the sacred silence of this Meetinghouse as we turn our hearts to you.
Jesus taught them to pray with these words…Our Father…