Christmas Eve Meditation

  • I want you to think about your favorite song tonight.
    • Might be a Christmas carol
    • Might be a “church song” – hymn or choir piece or contemporary song
    • Might be anything else
    • Think about how you feel when you hear that song.
      • Emotions song brings up –> Joy? Love? Healing? Peace? Fun?
      • How it takes you back –> Tunes and melodies can be powerful memory triggers for us.
        • Where were you when you last heard it? Who were you with? What were you doing? What was your life like?
      • Has that song (or any other favorite song) ever inspired you to do something?
        • Reach out someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
        • Take that leap that you’ve been considering/worrying about
        • Even something simple and silly – jump up out of your seat and dance
      • Take just a moment to sit with that song – all the emotions, all the inspiration, hum a few bars if you want to (or if you’re like me and you probably can’t help yourself!)
  • Okay, now take all those feelings that are wrapped up with your favorite song – all the comfort, all the joy, all the inspiration – and multiply it. Multiply it by ten. Multiply it by a hundred. Multiply it by a thousand or ten thousand or a million! This will get you just a little bit closer to experiencing the song that the angels sang for the shepherds that night so many years ago.
    • From what Scripture tells us, wasn’t a particularly complicated song – Lk: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among all whom he favors![1] –> One of the things that I like to do when I’m looking at a passage of Scripture for the week is look at the original Greek or Hebrew to see what kind of little nuances can be found in the language – a slightly different meaning here or there that can deepen our understanding of a text. So I tried to do that with this text this week. And do you know what I found? Nothing.
      • All words used are exactly as they say
        • Glory = glory
        • God = God
        • Peace = peace
      • So I looked at a number of different translations of the Bible side by side to see how the various “pros” treated this text. And again … they all say almost the same thing.
        • NRSV (our text): Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among all whom he favors!
        • King James version: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
        • The Message: Glory to God in the heavenly heights. Peace to all men and women on earth who please [God].
        • While the wording differs ever so slightly, the message in them remains the same: Glory to God! Peace on earth! God finds delight in human kind.
      • And you know, I think that consistency is comforting. The news that the angels brought to the shepherds that night was so important that the words they used were plain. They wanted to make sure they were understood. They wanted to get the point across. And at the same time, the news that the angels had to deliver was so wonderful, so stirring, so awe-inspiring, that it led them to burst out in song!
        • Head Angel to shepherds: I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.[2]
        • In this, the angel is saying: God loves you so much that God has come to be with you in the flesh – to live as you live, to feel as you feel, to love as you love. And in taking this step, God is welcoming you home. –> message for those shepherds thousands of years ago, message for everyone down through the ages
          • And this is the power of God’s message: that through the birth of this Christ-child – through this miracle about which the angels sing – we are given grace upon grace. This beautiful little baby boy whom we celebrate tonight will grow up to be Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah. He will teach people about God’s Word. He will echo God’s love in all that he does and all that he says. He will bear the sins of the whole world, covering them for us with God’s exceptional grace and giving us a way to turn back to God in faith.
  • And you never know when God is going to burst into your life with that message.
    • See this in shepherds –> a bunch of guys out in the fields minding their own business
      • This was their life. This was their livelihood. Historians tell us that the shepherds more than likely didn’t live somewhere else and commute in to work every day. They ate out there. They slept out there. They spent all their time out there with the sheep.
      • In the middle of their ordinary, every day lives –> BAM! Angels singing! Proclaiming good news! Bathing them in heavenly splendor!
      • And what effect did this magnificent event have on the shepherds? 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.”[3] –> The shepherds said to each other, “We’ve got to go now. This message that God has shared with us is so important, that we’ve got to drop everything. This song that the angels have sung to us is so inspiring that we cannot wait another minute.”
  • Sometimes, God’s entrance into our lives is quiet. It’s subtle. It’s a private, sacred moment between us and the Holy One. But there are other times when the work that God has for us to do is so important, so pressing, so special that it requires God bursting into our lives with angels and songs and every ounce of holy splendor that the Creator can muster!
    • Poem from Ann Weems in the bulletin – “Godburst”[4]
    • Tonight, as we celebrate the birth of that Holy Child into our faith, into our lives, and into our hearts, let’s let that Godburst so inspire us that we find ourselves running through the streets to share God’s love and our own joy with as much angel-exuberance and Spirit-joy as we can muster. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! Amen.
Godburst by Ann Weems

When the Holy Child is born into our hearts

    there is a rain of stars

       a rushing of angels

           a blaze of candles

   this God burst into our lives.

Love is running through the streets.

[1] Lk 2:14.

[2] Lk 2:10b-11.

[3] Lk 2:15.

[4] Ann Weems. “Godburst” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poems for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 29.

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