This evening, I have both the blessing and the challenge of offering the Christmas message for the year 2015.
For me, it is an absolute gift of a blessing to put words to thoughts and feelings as together we proclaim once again the good news of the ‘incarnation’. The ‘incarnation’? The coming of God in human form through a tiny, vulnerable baby named Jesus.
This 2000 and almost 50 year old story-the one where God chooses a young, peasant girl named Mary to mother the Holy Child and a somewhat puzzled carpenter, named Joseph to be his father, and, then together form the Nativity or Holy Family-this one story we never seem to tire of sharing each December!
The challenge for me, this particular night, is this:
We have already proclaimed the arrival of the Holy One numerous times over this evening in our hymns, our prayers, our readings from scripture, and just a few minutes ago, in a different ways as embodied by our children, youth and our choir!
That said, I do want to put some thoughts and feelings into prayerful words here at the midpoint of our celebration this evening. Let us begin with prayer:
Dearest God, in this most holy of celebrations, we come together to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, to join our voices in song as did the original choir of heavenly angels in Luke’s gospel tonight.
We also come this night, mindful that in your choosing the most ordinary, grittiest, and sometimes even those most rough and tumble of people-the shepherds guarding their flocks of sheep by night in the darkness of the fields around Bethlehem, You also choose to do the very same with the last and the least among us!
Holy gracious and amazing God, in our awareness of just such a possibility, we pray that we might be fully present to letting go all our fears and needs we rely on to keep you at arm’s length.
Be it our impatience with ourselves or others; be it our personal worries or our concerns with the state of the Canadian economy, or be it even our collective awareness of the distressing realities pervading the everyday lives of more and more people everywhere, we give all of it over to your care just for this evening.
Help us enter into this very present moment, dear God, so as to wonder and to marvel in the joy of your presence incarnate here within, between, and among us here as we celebrate the good news of Christmas once more.
Your hopeful love, Holy One comes to us in our shared experience of singing and praying, and in our remembrance of the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth.
Just so, this risking to choose to gift us with Your presence in human form is what has shaped and continues to shape our understanding of ourselves, of You, and of each other as participants and co-creators of your unfolding purpose for the healing and wholeness of all of Creation.
This risking kind of love is what we choose to celebrate this night, not a soppy and sentimental love about a baby in cradle, but, rather the very risking kind of hospitable love that shows up in the most unlikely of moments and most surprising of circumstances and situations.
This risking kind of the love that will carry us through when the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the night sky is gone, when the kings, and the shepherds, they eventually find their way back home, and when we return to the normalcy of everyday living.
But first, we are glad to just show up and be present and take our parts in proclaiming the joy of your love for us and for all of humanity born in a lowly stable in the hinterlands of Bethlehem this night.
And for all of that and more, we say: May it be so. Glory to God. And, amen and amen!