Posted on Thu, Dec 25, 2014
Gospel Text: Luke 2:1-20
December 24, 2014
Christmas Eve Worship
Gospel Text: Luke 2:1-20 “Now in flesh appearing....”
The Birth of Jesus
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ 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.
On every Sunday morning, I get dressed in the dark, eat my breakfast in the dark, and re-write parts of my sermon by kitchen light… outside it is still very dark. When I get on the road, the sun is just starting to come up over the mountains and when I arrive at the church the sky is that perfect color for photographers when everything has a golden hue. As I continue to prepare for worship and it gets closer to 7:30, the darkness of the morning is totally swept away with the brightness of the morning sunshine. During all of this time, my mind is on the meaning of the season, the relationship of the text and the struggles and joys of our church members, I wonder if my message will reach someone this morning. But it isn’t until you all arrive and bring this building to life. The Pu sounds, the organ centers us, the prayers, hymns and fellowship suddenly proclaim that the Word of God has indeed become flesh is living amongst us and in us as the Body of Christ.
Christmas is a time we celebrate the truth that in the birth of Christ, the Truth and Light of God has broken into our world, and the Hope of God is now alive and living amongst us. With the Birth of Christ, we go from a people living in darkness to a people living in the Light of God, the light that leads us on a path of faith, a light of comfort and hope that we can reflect as a people of God.
Our world is filled with people living in darkness, searching or at least longing for light and hope.
Every month, hundreds of people gather in front of our church many who are filled with darkness. They may be hungry, with no job, not enough income to pay their bills, suddenly homeless or just alone. When you look into some of their faces, you can see that they are living in the darkness of hopelessness, stress and worry. But here they receive food, maybe some clothing, a warm welcome… their dignity is upheld, and the witness the Light of God and I pray that light and hope finds its way into their difficult lives.
Everyday, I receive a phone call from a person looking for work, an apartment, affordable health care… they are living in darkness. But just allowing them to speak, vent, or just acknowledging their humanity, even if we don’t find an apartment, job or affordable health care, they know that they are loved and valued. For a short while, light shines into their darkness.
A person troubled with the worry that insurance may not cover an MRI that is necessary for surgery that will determine whether she will be able to work or not comes to our campus just to be around positive and caring people. Clothes are washed, hugs shared, a few bags of food received and for a short while, light shines into her world…
On Tuesday morning we have two Prayer Circles. One of them takes place at the Hawaii Kai Retirement Community. In our little circle we all share what our prayer concerns are; there are prayers for such and such, they may have fallen and broken a hip, another was taken to the hospital and everyone is concerned for them, another has a son or daughter in trouble and is on the streets and no one knows where they are, and then there is Paul. Paul always prays for two things; First, that the homeless find the help they need and that the military families are okay and reunited asap. Through their prayers, the hope of God that can only be expressed through the light of Christ given through baby Jesus and faith.
I receive a phone call from a very troubled young woman who is being beaten. She is pregnant far from home, and she can’t speak English. The only thing she has is my card and the church phone number. We are able to communicate, and she is desperate; thanks to the help of a member of our church and a few the Domestic Violence Action Center and Helping Hands Hawaii, I am thankful to say she is in a safe secret location and she and even her spouse will get the help they need. Through determination and sacrifice, she witnesses the mercy and hospitality of a stranger. A ray of light has broken through her cell of loneliness and hopelessness.
These are just some events that come to this place that is alive with people filled with the Light of Christ in the past 48 hours. This place is a place where the Light of Christ shines through the faith, love and grace that flows from the people here.
The Christmas story tells us of a star leading the Magi to Jesus. Out of the dark night, Angels came to the shepherds, not to royalty or the educated, but to the lowest of those on the social ladder to announce to them that their Savior has been born, and they can even go and behold this child with their very own eyes.
The Word, the Promise of Hope has appeared in the Christ Child. Our Savior is Truly the Light of the World from whom all people can find Blessing, Mercy and Hope.
Through love and forgiveness, mercy and justice, welcoming and hospitality, the people of the world, like those poor shepherds, can witness Jesus personally. Through your faith, the Light of God, can bring some people hope from the darkness.
You, People of God, in your blessed faith and humanness, let your light so shine. Amen.
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