Year A, B, C, Season of Christmas
Christmas Eve / Day
December 24 / 25, 2010
December 24, 2007
Edwards (Knox) United Church
Merry Christmas to all.
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The Rev. Dr. George Hermanson
We gather to catch our breath, to clear out the busyness of the days, to awaken out imaginations. We gather to rehearse, retell, and re-sing a formative story of our faith. We come to reflect and sing. In this time there is a note of wild and joyous exuberance in the songs we sing. "Rejoice! Exult! Sing aloud! Shout! I will bring you home says the Lord" No wonder these phrases get picked up in great liturgical music. It is hard to sit still. Isaiah sings: "Surely God is my salvation! My Strength! Sing aloud! Sing for Joy!" Mary belts out her song. She sings with confidence in what God has done.
There is a radical point of view in this season of hosting and gifting. This is not simply a narrative of past events, it is a story that speaks of God presence with us, in this world of ours. The story begins with a birth that speaks of the “scandal of particularity.”
As we dig deeper into the story, to move it from sentimental images, Christmas can be an explosive season. For there is a disruptive element to this birthing. For birthing redefines and transforms our world. Nothing remains the same.
God’s love comes crashing into reality, and in this story history is a profoundly moral story in which each of us, however small, has a part to play well or badly.
The story tells us we are not left alone in a empty universe, for the whole creation resounds with the music of God. All existence sings songs of joy. It is a birthing unlike other births.
As we sing we know the end of this story, for in this birth is a death, for it leads to the overturning of the status quo, a crucifixion and a resurrection. Through this story we can interpret our own struggles, victories, sufferings, and hope.
Now this singing is world shaking, for this event is a deep challenge to stratified society. Luke gives us a narrative that challenges all stratified reality. For out of the despised - the dishonorable - the shameless - the useless - comes God's grace. Those whom were previously despised are welcomed into the inner circle . . . the stratification of class and race, rich and poor, straight and gay are called into question. A new egalitarian society is to be born out of those whom the cultural made the outcast. This the radical nature of hosting of our world.
This story is reminding us of the continuous theme of the Bible - hosting and carnality.
We are invited to jump into life, to taste it, to have the enjoyment of our bodies. The God we celebrate loves the flesh and blood of life, and it is in this flesh and blood that we encounter deep spirituality. True spirituality takes us deeper into our world, to love it and move it to more beauty. Hosting is about nitty-gritty reality, hosting others with our hearts pounding with expectation.
It is a story about hosting and that can help us see ourselves as natural hosts. However, this quality needs to be nurtured, so our hearts leap with joy, for like Mary we carry God in our bodies. This story reminds us that in our messy and incomplete world we birth the hope within the world ... born this night ... incarnated with the promise of a new reality of healing.
The birth takes place in the stable with all its smells and messiness. God continues to come into our world with all its hopes and fears. God takes on the earthiness of our location and finds a home within our reality. This story tells us of the nature of welcome and hosting. It is not always convenient. Hosting has it is own rhythm. It own demands. Yet when we take time we know our hosting of others is a gift that is unexpected. In our time of gift giving, as the phrase reminds us, it is the thought that counts. For this is the season of love. Gifts that come from the heart touch us. In the midst of life we receive unexpected moments. A word touches us. A phrase of a carol touches us. In the midst of our busyness we stop and feel the warmth of others. Our hearts receive love - a gift of hope, joy, peace and love.
The stories remind us that hosting and carnality are the reasons for the season. For hosting is healing - binding together our wounds and connecting our webs of relatedness so we can experience wholeness. The story teller drives home this point - if we are open, we too can hear the angel voices - see the glory of God in everyday events.
We gather at the table to be hosted by God, to rehearse the joy of hospitality. This is a table where all are welcome, a place to find healing and forgiveness. And after tasting the bread and wine of God, we go to host this world of ours. Having claimed our inner sense of beauty we go out to create more beauty in our world. We birth a new way of being - we go out singing and embracing a way of life that is inclusive, caring, sharing of burdens. Affirm the light of God that lights up this dark night of our soul - remember once again - God is born in us tonight.