The Reverend Michele H. Morgan
Dec. 25th 2020 10 AM
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see– I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:1-20
When I preach at weddings I often do two things. I send the couple an email asking them what about their beloved caught their heart. The other thing I do is remind them that this is the wedding. This is the start, this is not the marriage, not the day to day living of their lives together. They are making a statement about the value that they have for each other and are making a claim and putting a stake in the ground about who they are moving forward and who they hope to be in the coming years.
Christmas is the same thing in which our hearts are caught up. Our hearts are caught up in all the other Christmas of our lives, hopefully mostly good. The year that I got the present that was the one thing that I hoped for. The year I went out with my own money and got my mum a present that she used during the year. The Christmas tree I put up this year that gives me a chance to talk with my beloved about the tree of my childhood. (Silver tinsel with a spot light that had a multi-color disc in front that slowly turned the four colors, so the tree was blue, then red, then yellow, then green) I am still delighted at the thought of that tree. The memories are good ones.
The Christ Child born to little or no means in a stable, all those years ago is a moment that catches our hearts. We are now on the journey with this very little human, his call, we will spend the year caught up in all that he does, who he travels with, what he teaches. The joy and the pain of a very human life. Jesus birth is God breaking into our world, this truth of God with us.
We are in a year where God with us feels very real. God and I have been talking about how much the world needs more light, more love, more goodness. I have been quieter, and more intentional about God for the last 10 months then I have since I was in Seminary going to chapel twice a day. I have been praying and walking with you all as fear and death have been our constant companions.
For many of us that is more real this year than years past. For Jesus and his family death and fear was with them all the time, (to paraphrase Thomas Hobbs) life was for brown people in an occupied territory nasty brutish and short. The whole story is filled with the glory of God and it is also filled with Herod stalking around the edges, the killing of the innocent is remembered on Dec. 29th.
We remember that the Christmas story is both and, the hope of God breaking into the world and also the reality of a broken world.
Our story is to be with God, or if you rather a selfless way to go through the world. Seeking and serving Christ in ALL others. This Christmas morning is the start. Like my young couples being reminded that the wedding is the start of the marriage and that they will have to work to keep it alive, and creative and ongoing and generative. Christmas morning the birth of this child, the breaking of God into the life of Humanity is the start. WE are called people to move towards others so their lives will not have to be one of suffering we are called this morning to realize that this is the start not the fulfillment of God promise to this world and we are called to change the world, to be apart and to help as we can so that any child born outside has a chance to grow up and be apart of this world in new and amazing ways.
So as our hearts are caught up in the story/memory/day of Christmas and we remember that this is the start of our story and that every year we are given the opportunity to try again to make the world look more live God would hope for, and that we too can enter that hope. Let us hear what Howard Thurman wrote:
“When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart.”
And for that I say thanks be to God