This message was delivered on Christmas Eve at Dunbar and Auburn Presbyterian Churches in Dunbar and Auburn, NE.
A recording is available here.
We have heard the prophecies foretold. Tonight we celebrate their coming to fruition. Christ is born into our world, yet again. Our lives are forever changed by the celebration this night, but have we stopped to realize it?
Have we taken the time to realize what the birth of our Messiah means?
For Israel it means the royal line of kings is restored. For Judah it means security and justice prevail. For Mary it means motherhood, cradling the light of the world in her harms, nursing him at her chest, and simultaneously nurturing the infant while being nurtured by her Savior.
For us, it means an invitation into the incarnation of Christ.
We have heard of a “war on Christmas” where secular greetings have overtaken the words Merry and Christmas in the world. But what would a Merry Christmas look like as the speakers and hearers live into the incarnation of Christ in our world.
It would look like:
Feed the Hungry
Shelter the Homeless
Share with those in Need
Advocate for the Marginalized
Confront the Abusing Power
Value the Religions of Others
As we depart from this place, we’ll go quietly into a world that’s loud and noisy. We’ll head home where we are warm and we’ll be surrounded by family, food, gifts, decorations…abundance. We’ll quickly forget those without and those who don’t celebrate the way or the things that we do. We’ll become entranced by the commercialism of Christmas and forget the Redemption we’ve been given because we need it – desperately – to save our lives.
I commend this thought to you from Parker Palmer, the Founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal in Seattle, Washington:
“I am called to share in the risk of Incarnation. Amid the world’s dangers, I’m asked to embody my beliefs, my identity and integrity. Asked to allow good words to take flesh in me…
Christmas is a reminder that I’m invited to be born, time and again, in the shape of my God-given self, which means embracing the vulnerability of the Christmas Story.”
Leave this place.
Be vulnerable as God was and is vulnerable for us.
Be born as Christ was born this night.
Grow in peace and share it with the world.
Live in love and allow it to invade your heart, just as it invaded Bethlehem on a night many years ago.
Risk the incarnation, for Emmanuel risked life and death for you.
Allow God’s word to take flesh in you, this day, and every day.
Thanks be to God, Emmanuel!
Lord of Life.
God of Hope.
Prince of Peace.
Lord of Love.
Bearer of Joy.
God with us.