Luke 2: 1-20 Rev. Dr. Galen E. Russell III
Christmas Eve December 24, 2017
“Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”
Prayer: May you be born in us again this night, O living God! Amen.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
We have reason to sing praises to God tonight—to say “Alleluia! Christ is born!” I say, Alleluia, you say Christ is born! Alleluia! Christ is born! We have reason praise God because God’s grace is offered and we live as redeemed people. “Alleluia!” Christ is born! We praise God our hope for the future is imminent because we have a life filled with God’s presence. “Alleluia!” Christ is born! We praise God because a deep Joy comes to our inner spiritual lives that can permeate throughout every aspect of our life’s journey. “Alleluia!” Christ is born! Why not praise God? The promise that Love expands through us is the way that Jesus’ realm continues forever! “Alleluia!” Christ is born!
Grace. Hope. Joy. Promise. This Advent, all these bring us to this moment: Birth! “Alleluia!” Christ is born!
Advent means, as I’ve said before, “important arrival.” Many of you have met my Mom. She flew in from California last Tuesday. I went down to Baltimore Washington Airport to pick her up. I was ten minutes early, so I walked into the terminal and checked the board to see what gate the plane would be at. C6 it said. It also said it had arrived. Just then, my phone rang. It was Mom saying the plane was at the gate, and she would see me in ten minutes. I went quickly to the C concourse hallway entrance, and stood there to wait. After all, I was expecting an important arrival.
I waited. I waited some more. No Mom. Heck no passengers at all. Just a few workers. Something wasn’t right. Better go back and check the board again. Yep. Sure enough, the gate was really D16. Did I misread it? Probably. But, I hustled. As I arrive at concourse D, there’s Mom, arriving, too.
It occurred to me… this is what Advent is like… waiting for the important arrival of Jesus’ birth. But, it really helps if you’re in the right place, looking down the correct hallway. And, you have to read the signs correctly, too. The message on the sign board has to be accurate as well. Or, you can easily be standing there, staring down the wrong hallway, led there by inaccurate information.
Our culture tries to tell us that Christmas’ arrival is important only to kids… because it’s magical. Because if you’re good, your presents will arrive. Heaven forbid if you’re on the naughty list! If that’s why Christmas is important, I think that’s looking down the wrong hallway.
The message that consumerism and commercialism say is that Christmas’ arrival is important because we get material things to add to our already big piles of material things. Get more, and you’ll be happier than you were before. That’s waiting at the wrong entrance of the wrong hallway, I think.
Those kinds of messages in our culture and signs are all around us. It becomes important to use our discerning abilities and go back to the sign board of God’s word, and re-check the story. Re-check the message. Re-check the purpose of the birth of Christ, the Messiah—which was to bring in the new era of God’s saving grace for all. Re-check the name “Jesus,” which means “the One who Saves!” When we see God’s saving grace in Christmas, we’re looking down the right hallway.
Can we re-check the meaning of “Emmanuel” which means in English “God with us?” Re-check the power of God’s justice and peace for everyone, the power of Shalom. Re-check the humble beginnings of Jesus’ birth and connect the same humility with greatness. Greatness is not in being powerful and mighty. Greatness is being humble before God—when we see justice, peace, and humility in Christ’s birth, that is looking down the correct hallway.
Can we re-check the message? Can we re-check our hearts? A sure sign that Christ birth is made known in us is that the transformed heart and lifestyle that we see in Ebenezer Scrooge, and George Bailey, and the Grinch shows up in us as well. When we see our lifestyle change and transform us with a new heart and spirit toward God and
toward others, we’re seeing the birth of Christ again in our lives. We’re looking down the correct hallway of Christmas.
As we conclude our Alleluia Journey! that leads up to the birth of Christ made known to us in our lives, I remind us that our journey never really concludes. We are always on the journey praising God because God’s gift of Christ is born in us again. We can see the signs, and like the shepherds, desire to go directly to where Christ is born. And, after we worship Christ at his birth, we have God’s work to do.
Would you please turn in the hymnals to selection #584. Christ, the Light of the World is born for us! We celebrate his birth, yes, but his birth is made known in us when we reach out to others sharing in the work of Christmas. The lyrics of the verses are based on the Christmas poem by Howard Thurman.
[sing “I am the Light of the World]
Alleluia! Christ is born!