Meditation for Christmas Eve 2017

December 24, 2017

The world went on.

After the shepherds returned to the hills, the world went on.

After the star dipped below the horizon, never to inspire star-gazers again, the world went on.

After the echoes of the angels’ shouts of glory faded, the world went on.

The world went on. Sheep needed protecting from wolves, and lambs were being born, so the shepherds returned to their daily work.

The world went on. The wise men, back with their books, had petitioners asking what was right and wrong and was there a message in the stars for them, so they returned to their daily work.

The world went on. The angels returned to… whatever angels do when they’re not visiting people. Since we don’t get those visits very often, we must assume that they angels have plenty to do, and so they returned to their daily work.

The world went on.

Mary and Joseph shared with every other first-time pair of parents their desperate quest for the new pattern of their lives. The world went on for them anew: a third person in the family, one with incessant, regular demands, and despite the beauty of “Away in a Manger,” I don’t believe for a moment that Jesus never cried. The hopes and fears of all the years may have been met in Bethlehem that night, but they were wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger, well hidden from eyes looking for something big, and powerful, and bright.

In Christmas we find the wisdom of Christianity, literally embodied in the fragile infant Messiah. Though we sing with angels and admire with shepherds and bring gifts like people praised for their wisdom, the truth is that the world goes on. Jesus’ birth did not bring Creation to its end, even if we believe that it brought Creation to its fulfillment. Jesus’ message did not end the questions and challenges of human life, even if we believe that all God’s love was embodied in him. Jesus’ death for our sins did not end our sins, and Jesus’ resurrection for our life has not prevented us from dying, even though we proclaim God’s victory over sin and death alike.

Because the world went on. The world goes on. The world will go on.

Christmas shows us that the love and grace and peace of God emerge again and again and again in the oddest places – an inn in Bethlehem, a mountaintop in Galilee, a tomb outside Jerusalem – and then the world goes on.

The world goes on and once more God’s love and grace and peace emerge, startling us into thinking, “This is it! What more can there be?” and once more, the world goes on.

The world goes on so that babies can grow and thrive, and young people can learn and share, and adults can care for their children and the children of others, and so that grandparents can say, “I have seen love in my life.” The world goes on, and it goes on with God’s love and grace and peace at its very core, suddenly blossoming like a flower among us and then hiding once more like seeds nestling in the earth.

In just a few moments, we will once again light those candles of Christmas, and we will raise the sweet melody that fills our hearts nearly as full as those of Mary and Joseph that first night. Tomorrow the gift wrap will fly off, and the houses shriek with laughter, and we’ll share those Christmas dinners.

And on Tuesday, the world goes on, so don’t forget: It goes on because the love and grace and peace of God are at its very core, and they will emerge to surprise us again. And again. And again.

As the world goes on.


Listen to the Recorded Mediation:

Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas! May the peace and joy of Christ be yours!

Categories Sermons | Tags: | Posted on December 24, 2017

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