Good News Still, Christmas Eve

Good News Still

Luke 2:1-20

Rev. Catherine E. Schuyler

Catskill, Palenville, Quarryville UMCs; December 24, 2020

 

 

It’s the same story we hear every year.  The same travel-weary couple arriving to find no room at the inn, the same mama giving birth to her first-born baby without friends and family nearby, the same shepherds out in the fields, watching the same sheep and hearing the same good news they heard last year from that herald angel.  The same song of glory to God and peace on earth and then the same reaction from the shepherds to go and greet this gift of God to the world.  We know this story.  But each year as it’s told, especially as it’s told through the work of the youngest among us, it’s new.  We watch the pageant with love, because we love these kids, and the love touches us, encourages us.  Experiencing the story of Christmas each year invites us to imagine ourselves there, on that night, in that time, when the glory of the great God of the universe is made known in the ordinary world of a small family welcoming new life into the world. 

 

 

We know ordinary, humble, routine life.  Even in this irregular year of quarantine and Zoom and church online, we have found routine.  Weekly calls with friends or family, meals at the table, movies on Netflix, and walks with the dog each day.   What I love about this Christmas story we hear each year is that God comes to us among ordinary people, like you and like I as the song says.  Like shepherds at the boring task of keeping watch over flocks at night. 

 

Are we willing to believe this year that God still comes to us?  Are we willing to imagine that in a time of pandemic and sorrow, of difficulty and economic struggle, that God would come?  God came into Mary and Joseph’s world, not with huge pageantry or with a parade of royalty, but as a tiny baby (I’m always amazed at just how tiny babies are), crying when he was hungry, cooing when he was happy.  The shepherds made no plans for that night to be any different from the night before.  The angels couldn’t contain themselves, and the announcement was pretty impressive.  But then the text says, the angels went away, the night was dark again, and it was left to the shepherds to decide what to do with this amazing news.  They believed it.  They let it change their plans.  They then told everyone they saw about what God had done. 

God still does wonderful things.  God still comes into our lives.  It’s up to us to welcome it, to see it, to allow our lives to be changed by God’s presence and call.  God has been made known this year in new ways – in the variety of options for worship on the computer, in the realization of how deeply we need each other, in the opportunities we’ve been given to share – through Blessing Boxes and donations to Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for our neighbors. 

 

Let Christmas in, the joy, the peace, the deep love God offers us in the very presence of the Holy among us, Emmanuel, God with us.  It’s still good news.  It still invites us, as we are, with apples and cardboard mangers and Burger King crowns, to let Christmas, even a minimized Christmas if necessary, with or without trappings and boxes and bags – let Christmas in. 

 

I’ll end as the pageant ended, as the story ends every year:         

 

Like the Magi, we still honor that child today. 

Like the shepherds we celebrate his birth. 

Like the angels we give God glory and praise for such great love given to us in the baby Jesus. 

And like Mary and Joseph, we are offered the option to say ‘yes.’

Yes, Jesus, we want to welcome you into our hearts and let your love shape our lives. Amen.

 

Luke 2:1-7

2In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph 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. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And 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.

Luke 2:8-14

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And 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!”

Luke 2:15-20

15When 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.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

 

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