Christmas Eve 10 Pm
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)
So on this night God has arrived. The spark of light that changes everything. It is what God does in our lives. It is a call to set down the rocks of despair and to see the light.
We have had a year, and I think well nothing could surprise me and yet I keep and perhaps you keep having things that surprise you, things that shake you more awake. Kind of like shepherds who are visited by angels and the brightness of a multitude of heavenly hosts break in, and heralding something new.
I wonder if this is the past year’s newness in action. New is something we think is better, you know the ad, or package…NEW AND IMPROVED.
So this last year was def. new and I would be hard pressed to call it improved. Because of lock down orders we have had a pause, we have had a steep learning curve, we have a clear opportunity to consider how we do everything now. How we keep ourselves safe and for some of us, (most of us) how we realize our privilege has and continues to keep us safe. So a year that we do not want or need. YET…
Yet is there anything of this difficult year that we would keep? Some Part of the year that we would hold on to? For myself I have connected with friends from Seminary, Kevin, Jennifer, Sally, Brian, David and Melanie walked/ companioned me during september 2001, the fall of the WTC and the aftermath. I am beyond grateful for my reconnection with them. Yet we have felt lost in this group as we have multiple death of parents and animal companions
So much loss and so much lost.
The loss continues as we hear a gospel from long ago where the call from the Emperor is for the people to pick up and leave their safe homes and go to where they were born. Something many of us do as we travel for Christmas anyway. So we may not notice it as much as other year…. But then like now, I can not imagine being forced to travel now… But Mary and Joseph like all the oppressed people had no choice they had to go and they had to go and be counted. It was an onerous task by an occupying force. And really one to remind them that they were under the control of other people.
Yet this is a story where the people are ordered around by the powers that be and yet the Shepherds who are called to announce the good news, to come and see the baby to companion this brand new family. THEY ARE outside the power structure. They are immigrant and they are outsiders That is part of this story, too.
THIS IS A STORY OF HOPE and we hear it every year so that we can be reminded to be the part of the good of the story the people struggling the ones calling out the powers that be.
Joy Harjo poem is also a reminder of how we hope to change the world
Once the World Was Perfect By Joy Harjo
Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
And once Doubt ruptured the web,
All manner of demon thoughts
We destroyed the world we had been given
For inspiration, for life—
Each stone of jealousy, each stone
Of fear, greed, envy, and hatred, put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were,
Right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other
In the dark.
And now we had no place to live, since we didn’t know
How to live with each other.
Then one of the stumbling ones took pity on another
And shared a blanket.
A spark of kindness made a light.
The light made an opening in the darkness.
Everyone worked together to make a ladder.
A Wind Clan person climbed out first into the next world,
And then the other clans, the children of those clans, their children,
And their children, all the way through time—
To now, into this morning light to you.
The question tonight is what rocks do we need to set down and what light do we invite in, to welcome the baby and to change the world.