Christmas Eve 2020
When I was a kid... Christmas was always an amazing, wonderful time. I remember so clearly... vividly... the bottle-washer Christmas tree with multi-colored lights... and tinsel. A ton of tinsel. I also remember going to church on Christmas Eve... and singing Christmas carols and lighting candles.
I imagine many of you share the same memories and feelings. Hopefully we’re helping our children and grandchildren form those same kinda’ memories.
Of course, as I’ve grown older, the truth is... the memories remain... but the tinsel has tarnished a little, the amazement and wonder has faded some, too.
But... the truth is... I’ve learned, that if I look in the right place, I can find that amazement & wonder again.
And I’m not just talking about the wide eyed wonder of a child seeing bright lights. Or the anticipation of ripping off bows and ribbon and wrapping paper to get at the hidden treasures inside.
I’m talking about the true wonder, and actual “glory” behind all that amazement.
Christmas has always been glorious. The problem is, we haven’t always known where to look. People looked in palaces and temples and fortresses. They looked to rulers, and sages, and armies for deliverance, for salvation. And not much has changed, to tell you the truth.
People then, and now... from time-to-time catch brief glimpses or reflections of what they’re looking for... but struggle with the glory itself... because the true glory of Christmas can’t be found in the usual seats of power and privilege and might.
In fact... while some were looking for the Messiah, and anticipating his coming... others, not so much. They were just minding their own business... out doing what they were supposed to do, what they were expected to do... and paid to do.
The Bible says as much, “And there were shepherds abiding the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night.” Not a very glorious place, or job. Darkness and animals and shepherds out all night watching for wolves and wandering sheep. Nothing grand and glorious about it. It was all too ordinary, and common.
But then an angel of the Lord stood among them and the glory of the Lord “shone” all around them... outshining the stars in the night sky. In fact, it was so bright that it terrified them.
So the angel said, “Don’t fear... I bring you good news of great joy... for today, the Savior has been born, the Messiah, Christ the Lord. You will find him wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
A baby blanket and a feeding trough. Nothing extraordinary... just the common, and all too ordinary.
Then... suddenly... a multitude of the heavenly host appeared along-side the angel, singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men.”
And THAT’s when the glory of Christmas dawned...
You see... the glory of Christmas is right where it has always been. Not in the halls of Congress... or the Oval Office... or on Wall Street. And all the tinsel and the ribbons and the lights are just reflection of that glory. The Glory itself, was wrapped in the ordinary... in swaddling cloths... and lying in a simple manger.
That is basically what John said.
The Gospel according to John begins "In the beginning was the Word and Word was God and the Word was with God." The Word! What’s more common and ordinary than words?
But then... John tells us that this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Again, the Glory of God wrapped in the ordinary.
Of course, this Word’s more than the spoken word. It is the power behind the words that spoke the very universe into existence out of nothing! The Word that said, “Let there be light... and there was light!” This Word... is the very nature and essence of God himself.
And John says that this Word became human. And we have seen (we’ve witnessed, we’ve experienced) his Glory. The glory of the Heavenly Father's only begotten Son!
But even today... most people don't see it. Christ came to his own and his own people did not accept him. The glory of God is shining - it’s a bright as ever! And still, many grope in darkness... choosing darkness rather than light.
But... then, we’re not most people, are we? Those of us gathered here, tonight... we’re the Children of God! We’ve seen and acknowledged and accepted the glory of Christmas (or at least I hope that’s true)!
It’s now our job to share that Good News with others! Christ has come! Emmanuel, God is with us. He is right here! Wherever we are... Christ is there, too!
His glory was revealed first by angles and then in a babe lying in a manger... the Word became flesh... and now, the Glory of God is in you - and me.
We have no need to fear! For we have Good News of great joy for all people! Christ has come! Glory to God in the highest! Amen!