12/24/2019: Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

5:30 pm and 11:00 pm Service
Rev. Gretchen Jones Switzer

I’m never exactly sure what I should say on Christmas Eve. After all, as we’ve heard tonight, the Holy Child described as the word of God in the Gospel of John. God’s word, not mine, but God’s alone.

It seems a bit absurd to try to say anything more than what we have heard tonight in the scriptural prophecies and the gospels regarding Jesus Christ. So, I am not going to tell you the story yet again. You’ve heard it and if you are anything like me, tonight’s story is already written in your hearts and souls.

The key to Christmas is figuring out how to respond to God’s ultimate act of love. We buy presents and eat fabulous meals and come to church. But do we really, truly let the Christmas story change us, alter the way we look at the world? Do we allow Jesus to be born anew inside our hearts and our souls for more than a day? Do we rail against the ills of the world and against government and politicians who want to tell us how we should feel and how we should live and how we should respond to what happens in our country and in the world?

Or, does Jesus coming to us, move us to stand up and proclaim God’s goodness with how we act and the way we live in the world? Do we extend ourselves to others in the name of Christ whether it is the homeless beggar on the side of the street or the troubled relative we’ve always disliked, sitting at the far end of the Christmas table?

In the Christmas birth, God has reached out the divine hand to us, becoming one of us, so through Jesus, God has experienced firsthand our fears, our hopes, our frustrations and our peace.

As I said last Sunday, I have always believed that God comes to us a baby so that God would know precisely what it feels like to be human, so that God could know how best to love us and help us and support us. So, God can meet us in our fears and our shortcomings and make us his own beloved children over and over and over again.

But the first and most important step was what happened on the very first Christmas night, when God was so overwhelmed with love for us that He came to us as a tiny baby and determined to grow among us into our blessed Savior.

The truth is that tonight is God’s way of saying to each one of us: “I love you. I love you so much that I am taking on every aspect of your existence, so that I can bring you the joy and peace and hope, and love you for so long in your deepest heart and soul.

Hear these words, spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr. “Now I say to you that life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has it’s bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has moments of drought and moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycles of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chills of its winters. But if you will hold on, you will discover that God walks with you, and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.”

May it be so.