Sermon: Meditation for Christmas Eve 2022

December 24, 2022

Luke 2:1-20

by Eric Anderson

Imagine for a moment that you were in the last months of your pregnancy – guys, stretch your imaginations here – and learned that you had to make a journey right about the time of your due date. It’s an imperial command, so there’s nothing you can do about it, but a trip during the uncomfortable last weeks of pregnancy – I’d be irritated.

It’s a trip of about ninety miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and they didn’t have the option of a two-and-a-half-hour car ride. It’s about a four day walk. We can only hope that artists over the centuries were right and there was an animal for Mary to ride – and that can’t have been comfortable.

I’d be irritated after four days on the road while nine months pregnant. Especially if there were no room in the inn when the journey was over. Especially if labor began and the midwife was a stranger and there’s still no room for the mother or the child and the best anyone can do is a feeding trough when the baby has arrived and the squalling newborn has finally fallen asleep.

Just in time for a group of shepherds to turn up.

Irritated is too gentle a word.

Yet… Mary herself had sung of a world turned upside down.

“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
    and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away empty.”

Now she found herself in the city of King David, but without even the modest shelter of an inn. She found herself the mother of a Savior – and laid him in a manger. Once more she heard from angels – but this time in the report of shepherds. Her world had been turned upside down.

And in that topsy-turvy state she treasured the words and pondered them in her heart.

We’ve been in turmoil for nearly three years thanks to a global pandemic. We’ve been in turmoil before that because of volcanic eruptions and hurricanes. We’ve been in political turmoil. We’ve been in racial turmoil. We still live in the turmoil produced by nineteenth century colonialism.

Can we, amidst all that and more, do what Mary did? Can we treasure the words of the Christmas miracle and ponder them in our hearts?

Joy J. Moore writes at Working Preacher, “Roman orators and poets would announce the arrival of peace at the birth of the one who will be the next emperor.  Luke tells us God shows up in the ordinary and the heavens respond in a chorus of awe. Mere shepherds take notice, as if gazing upon a bush that burns without being consumed.  The declaration that is heard glorifies God and promises what God does for us to bring peace.”

The Christ child did not come to the privileged and the powerful. He came to the poor and the ignored. He did not rest in a palace. He slept first in a borrowed manger. His birth was heralded by angels, but they sang to working people on the night shift, not to the religious professionals in the Temple.

If Jesus were born in our day, friends, you’re more likely to hear from the angels than I am.

Let that sit in your heart.

God sent a Savior into a topsy-turvy world, one filled with turmoil and chaos, one in which order is so often imposed by cruelty and violence. God sent the Savior to testify to and demonstrate that there is another way, a path of love and blessing, a life of possibility and fulfillment. God sent the Savior in the strangest way – so that we, with Mary, might treasure these words, might ponder them in our hearts, and might direct our lives toward creating the world of which the angels sang.

May the infant born two thousand years ago,
emerge again into our restless lives,
to overturn the pretense of our egos,
to comfort where we feel the stings of strife.

Awake the wonder of the Christ child,
sleeping in that manger of our memory,
as angels’ songs were echoed by the shepherds,
to summon us from our complacency.

May hope rekindle in our weary hearts
and faith revive within our flagging souls
for Christ is born, and God’s salvation comes
to make the world and all its people whole.


Watch the Recorded Meditation

The image is a mosaic of the Nativity by Mosaik von Pietro Cavallini (ca. 1250 – 1330) – Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rom, Public Domain,

Categories Sermons | Tags: | Posted on December 25, 2022

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