Sermon for Christmas Eve

December 24, 2022

Isaiah 9:2-7                         Psalm 96                                                              Titus 2:11-4                         Luke 2:1-20

          Christmas is finally here!  After four weeks of waiting, more if you work in retail, Christmas is actually here!  During the last four weeks when we haven’t been hanging ornaments, decorating trees, shopping, wrapping presents, cooking – and all those things we do to get ready for the gift exchanges and the Christmas Feast – we have been observing advent.  Advent has been a season of reflection and of anticipation.  No more anticipation; it is time to celebrate Christmas.  Jesus has arrived! In him, God comes to us in the flesh. 

Jesus comes into the world as a baby.  Mary and Joseph care for him, keep him safe, and raise him in their faith.  I want you to consider this.  I’ve heard it said that when a child comes into our world, its parent’s lives are changed forever.  Jesus comes into our world, into our lives, and he changes our world forever.

He comes into our world to teach us about the kingdom of God and what it is like.  In Matthew, Jesus says that when the Son of Man comes in his glory he will sit upon the throne and say:  “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

          The kingdom of God will be filled with people caring for the less fortunate, for people who are in need.  Infants need to be fed and clothed and loved and nursed through illnesses.  This is what we can learn from the story of the birth of Jesus.    We are to care for others as we care for an infant.  Caring for an infant can be challenging and exhausting, but in caring for a child we learn to see the world in a different light.  We learn to prioritize what we do. We learn to give of ourselves, and we watch with amazement one of God’s own creations grow and develop and learn.  AND, we fall in love – a love so deep that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for the child’s health and safety. 

          This, our annual celebration of Christ’s birth, can remind us that God’s love for us is even greater than our love for a newborn child.  We know the complete story of this child’s life; we know what he will become and how he will change our world.  We know that the people of God, us included, often lose their way.  We get distracted and we get lost.  But God’s love and presence in all around us.  Jesus calls us back into our relationship with our creator. He redeems us, and fills us with his spirit, the Holy Spirit, which sustains us.  

          AND, Jesus calls us into a relationship with each other and with strangers and people who are hungry and in need.  In teaching us the greatest commandments, Jesus says we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul – and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  The relationship between a parent and newborn is a wonderful example of this.  It is also a wonderful glimpse into God’s kingdom where love rules our hearts, guides our minds, and determines what we will do.

Let us pray.

          Lord Christ, we remember your coming into our lives on this night as we celebrate your birth.  Help us, we pray, to commit our lives to loving you and caring for others.  May that our lives be an example to others of your love for all of humanity.  We offer our prayers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.