Luke 2:8-20 (MSG)
South Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship of Faith
December 24, 2017 – Advent 4 – Christmas Sunday
The Reverend Deborah Fae Swift
An Event for Everyone
8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen.
It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
= = = = =
Well, here we are – another Christmas Eve day.
I can remember as a kid, the excitement and anticipation … being DRAGGED to church with my family for the early service. And then a few years AFTER that, choosing to go back for the LATE service so that I could hang out with my friends … and all the years that I had to SING on Christmas Eve in one service or another around town … Then there were the years when I was the Youth Choir Director and had my bell choir and my two youth choirs sing … and then I came to seminary and the whole thing meant something very different to me.
All of a sudden, this BABY who I’d been singing about and hearing stories about all my life was becoming real to me in a new and different way.
I think I’m not all that different from most of you here.
I think that the meaning of Christmas CHANGES for all of us when we get older.
If we become parents or grandparents, the meaning changes AGAIN.
If we are newly in LOVE – at whatever age – the meaning changes for all of us, doesn’t it? As we see the world differently, we experience CHRISTMAS differently.
The Christmas story takes on different meaning depending on our perspective. If we are about to have a baby – or if someone we LOVE is about to have a baby – we hear the story from MARY’s and Joseph’s point of view.
If we feel that we are on a particularly low level in terms of our culture and community … kind of marginalized and on the outs, or put upon be people … then the SHEPHERDS might speak to us.
Maybe we’ve been through a time in life where we just don’t feel we have the time to take IN any more changed … we don’t have anything left to OFFER anyone. So maybe we’re the Inn Keeper right now.
Y’see, the thing is that we are ALL every person in this story at one time or another.
Sometimes we’re the angels and we’re able to tell (or show) other people the love of God.
Sometimes we’re Mary – confused and bewildered, but trying our best to e faithful.
Sometimes we’re able to bring gifts to God and recognize Jesus in the world round us – and sometimes not.
The thing is that this story is SO universal that there is something in it for EVERYONE. And my question for each of you today is: What’s in it for YOU?
What do you take away from this story today … THIS year …what is the message it’s bringing to you for YOUR life?
Who wants to go FIRST? What is the message of the Christmas story that speaks to YOU this year?
Let us pray: Gracious and loving God … birther of New Beginnings … you surprise us with your presence in unfamiliar and unconventional places. You come, not as we expect you to, all the time … and your startle us with a holy HUMMING that vibrates through our very soul. We KNOW something magical and MYSTICAL is happening through this birth, but we’re not always sure what that is.
Be with us and bless us in the days ahead as we figure out what GIFT you are sending to us through this Christmas celebration, we ask in the name of the one being born this day in the Bethlehem of our hearts. Amen.