This is the message Pastor Jason shared during our Christmas Eve virtual gathering.
Merry Christmas Eve! What an amazing evening to join together for worship! For many, we are on the verge of the “big day” of our year! We are so excited to shower our family and friends with gifts…even if we have to watch them open their gifts via Zoom or FaceTime!
I love watching my wife and children open their presents…to watch their faces light up! In the past, I’ve let Emily open her gifts pretty much as soon as I buy them because I can’t wait!
Let’s be honest, it is very easy to gloss over the story of the birth of Jesus. It is so very easy to get swept up into the consumeristic nature of this day. It’s easy to spend too much money on our children, spouses, grandchildren and friends. It’s easy to eat too much! Some of us find our mouths watering just thinking about the mass quantities we will consume at our gatherings (Vegan options are pretty terrible – Vegan Eggnog – yes, unfortunately, it is a thing and it is disgusting). We justify it by saying, “well, it’s Christmas…and it only comes once a year!” But folks, Christmas is about so much more than our holly jolly celebrations. And, now, we pause to remember what tomorrow is really all about.
This evening’s Scripture reading always reminds me of A Charlie Brown Christmas (Charlies is fed up and asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!” Linus calmly answers him, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” As Linus steps forward on the stage he begins reciting his part in the Christmas play, taken from Luke 2. After a brief pause, Linus walks back to his friend and softly says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
On this day, we slow down, we pause to remember and celebrate that Christmas is about God moving into the neighborhood. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his home among us.” Tomorrow, we celebrate the birth of Jesus…who, as the Word, was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Tonight, we celebrate and remember that epic event of God, through Jesus, dwelling among His people. Christmas is all about Emmanuel, remembering and celebrating that God is with us!
On Christmas, we celebrate this “good news of great joy for all people” that our Savior is born!” We sing “Joy to the world the Lord is come!” Why? Because God, out of great love for us, sent the Word to become flesh, to dwell among us, to live…to teach us how to live in harmony with God and one another, to die for our sins, and now live again that we might have life. This is good news of great joy for all people.
Joy comes to us in the form of a newborn baby. Good news of great joy for all people comes to us in the form of a newborn baby.
But, this good news of great joy for all people isn’t so good if it’s only for us. This was good news of great joy for those in the first century. It’s good news of great joy for us today.
And, it will continue be good news of great joy for the future as we accept the challenge to “go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.” The shepherds respo0nded to that challenge.
Luke 2:15-20 – “15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Jesus, the true light, comes and gives light to what was dark. The word becomes flesh and dwells among us. Unto us a Savior is born. The birth of Christ reminds us that it’s not all about us…If you are watching this with family and friends, look at someone around you and say, “It’s not about you.” If you are watching this alone, find a mirror and say, “It’s not about you!” Now, look at that person again and say, “It’s not about you.” I want to make sure we fully understand this. Now, look at that person and say, “But, God still loves you!”
Part of Christmas is reminding ourselves of the proper ordering of things. Jesus, the Humble King, is highly exalted. We are less than Jesus.
Through our words and our deeds, we need to bring the light of Christ, the good news of great joy, into the darkest corners of our community, our nation, our world. We need to dwell among the least, the last, and the lost. Think of the dark corners in our community that need light. Think of those places in our community that need the church to dwell among them. (Obvious dark corners in Fort Wayne…news of crime, drug use, homelessness, abuse…Not so obvious dark corners– the fancy neighborhoods with big, nice homes, nice vehicles, looks great on the outside – falling apart on the inside – desperately need the Good News of great joy).
The church is challenged with the task of letting our lights shine in the darkness. The church is challenged with the task of dwelling among the least, the last, the lost among us…which just might lead us into some of the dark corners of our community and world. If we aren’t going to do it, then who will? We are the only hands, feet, and wallets Jesus has! So, we have to get out of the building, get out of our comfort zones so the light of Christ can shine and the good news of great joy for all people can be made known!
Remember the old chorus, “This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it…what?” Shine! Just as the true light came to shine into the darkness…just as the Word became flesh, we need to let our little lights shine. We need to go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere…through our words and our deeds. Let your light shine and go tell it in your homes, your neighborhoods, your workplace, wherever you find yourself…in order that this good news of great joy that our Savior is born might bring love, joy, hope and peace not just to us, but to the world. Amen.