Homily ~ Christmas 2019 (Cyber-version)
So, are you ready for Christmas? Advent is complete for another year and the Christmas season now begins in fullness. We hope that as you gather with family and friends there will be many reasons for happiness and peace. But we are also mindful that the holiday season is, for many very difficult and painful. Those who a struggle with ill health, poverty or broken homes know deeper struggles in this season. Those places where persecution, violence and environmental crises prevail will struggle to find cause to celebrate at this time. The many clouds of conflict and sorrow in our nation and world would easily hide the hope we gather to celebrate this night. All these realities, these truths from our world would cause many to ask…. IS CHRISTMAS TRUE?
Before we explore that very valid question lets us first, briefly, look at the immense wealth of Christmas traditions. The date of Christmas, the Christmas lights and sharing of gifts, Santa Claus and the Christmas tree and many other traditions have become part of this season. Increasingly there are those who complain that Christians robbed the various pagan religions to make up this holiday. True or false? To explore and understand these many practices is good. But to do so would take far more time than we have tonight. But for this who truly want to understand let me know and we will explore these things. To answer those wonderings we need first to resolve the more basic questions asked earlier. IS CHRISTMAS TRUE? Is the story of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, in a manger in Bethlehem true? If it isn’t..Why Are You Here? If it is..Why aren’t you here?
IS CHRISTMAS TRUE? I cannot answer that question, as you deserve. I can give many theological, intellectual reasons why it can be understood to be true. But to know the answer you deserve it must be an answer for the heart. The answer is not something we understand but Someone we can come to know. For that to occur let us journey, in our hearts to Bethlehem, over 2000 years ago and join the shepherds, join Joseph and Mary and…
LISTEN to GOD ~ Turn OFF the noise of the world and listen to The Living WORD, God’s angels and servants. Let be alert to the place where we can hear God, the fields, the stillness of the night, the place of humbleness. It is often in our brokenness, our woundedness, our fears that God will speak most clearly…IF we will listen.
COME to GOD ~ The shepherds heard the angel and then the choir of the heavenly host. REALLY? After this celestial proclamation they must have wondered..was that real? There was only one way to find out. COME to God. We need to let go and turn away from ego, pride, sin and come, if faith to God. They chose to obey and go to Bethlehem. Uncertain. Afraid. Unable to understand. But they came to God and discovered Jesus, as the angel promised. I am sure there were, among the shepherds those who thought, this is NUTS. It is only when we step out in faith that we will come to God and know, in our hearts that Christmas is true. This applies in throughout or lives, in our relationships, in our hopes and even in our failures. Each are invitations to Come to God.
COME and SEE. When the shepherds saw Joseph and Mary and the baby in the manger WHO did they see? A poor carpenter and his young bride with a newborn? These simple field hardened men saw something far more. They saw the glory of God come to earth. For when we get even a tiny glimpse of His Holy Presence that Truth cannot be hidden. Sacred art struggles to illustrate this with the proverbial halo just as this simple preacher struggles to express that holy glory with these simple words. Let us look past the futile images and words that cannot contain Christ born this night. Let us, Listen, Come, See and Grow in the Light and Truth that is the Christ. To see Christ in each other, this wounded world, and in creation we must be willing to look with eyes of faith. The faith that plants the bulbs in the garden in winter can see the blooms in the Spring. Look past what may seem dead or hopeless to the person, the issue with the eyes of faith.
GROW with GOD. To encounter the Truth, born in a manger is to be forever changed. We will be compelled to decide… to turn away from Jesus and embrace our fearful intellect or to grow in that faith and love that brought Him here to us. If we come and encounter the Living Word, The Light of Life, born of the Virgin Mary, and if we decide to follow we will grow in that love, the peace, the holy joy that only God can bring. We will still encounter the sorrows and struggles of this world, until He returns.
IS CHRISTMAS TRUE?
The answer is there if we will just Listen, Come to See God and allow His Peace, His Love to grow through our lives.