God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Approximate Notes for Christmas Eve’2013 Message
24 December 2013Posted by on
Christmas is a day on the calendar and it is a Holy Day in the life of the church.
Christmas is a holiday; schools are out, workers take time off to make sure that they do not lose their accrued vacation time.
Christmas is a word and a feeling!
Christmas is an emotion…
Christmas is the taste and the smell of those “special” cookies that are made once a year and warm egg-nog.
Christmas Eve is a night that is full of personal memories and meaning for all of us. It is also a night that is full of traditions, expectations and nostalgia. There is magic and wonder in the air, there is magic and wonder in the air even for those of us who are well past magic and wonder.
Because of all that, many people who never ever set foot inside a church feel compelled to come to church on Christmas Eve and to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Knowing all that makes it very tempting for me to pack today’s message chock full of meaning and attempt to explain to our visitors what we, the church fellowship, are all about. On the other hand, I realize that I cannot pack 20 centuries of meaning into 10-15 minutes, because I will either completely lose your interest or put you all to sleep.
That is why today I want to talk about something much smaller. Today I want to talk about what Christmas means to me personally. Today I want to talk about what it means to me that God made a decision to come into this world and to be born (just like every one of us), to grow through phases of life (just like every one of us), to live among us and to teach anyone who was willing to listen, and then by his death and resurrection to redeem our proclivity to do what we know we should not do. Even Paul, a giant of faith if I ever knew one, even Paul struggled with his proclivity to sin (Romans 7:14-20).
There is a difference between the facts of life and the truth of life. The truths of life do not have to be factual. Pablo Picasso said once that “Art is a lie that tells us something about the truth.” On the other hand, the facts of life, the way we understand life, are based on (and interpreted through the lens of) what we believe to be the Truth of Life.
The human history is the story of displacement. The world as we know it today is shaped by the wars and battles of the past. I am talking about the battles for natural resources, for lands that produce better crops, for access to major highways, by greed and by desire to dominate other groups of people in order to tax them. We saw it in the two World Wars fought in the last century, we saw it in the Arab Spring in the last couple of years, we see it in Syria today, we see it in the Ukraine as the population wants to join the European Union but the Russian Federation is trying to assert its dominance over the region. Throughout the history of humanity there has always been at least one group of people displacing another group somewhere in in the world. Because the Earth is round, and because there is only so much arable and inhabitable land available on our planet, at some point of time people who were displaced would come face to face with the people who displaced them. I think that first happened sometime around 1870 because that is around the time when humanity had a means of crisscrossing the globe in a matter of weeks; that is also the time when the intensity of military conflicts increased exponentially.
Our loving and caring God took human form 2000 years ago, lived among us, taught us in person (these teachings are preserved in the pages of the Bible), was crucified, came back to life and was resurrected, and continues to interact with us through the Holy Spirit. That is the Truth and that does not change.
Facts of life, on the other hand, change. It means something different to travel to Washington, DC in 2013 that it meant in 1870, or even in 1950. Styles of clothes change with time, even our language changes over time.
The point that I am trying to make is that the facts of life change; the truth of life does not.
What Christmas means to me is that God came to show us that there is a better way to coexist and interact with our neighbors in this world. God came to live among us to show us that there is a different way to live our lives and to give us a preview of what the “kingdom of God” could be not only in Heaven but also here on earth.
Jesus, the Savior and Redeemer of God’s Creation, was born one silent night in ancient Judea so that God could demonstrate to us the difference between the Truth and the Facts of life.
I am talking about Jesus, a Jew who lived in the land of Judea under Roman rule 2000 years ago, who taught the “Kingdom of God” as the will of God done on earth as it is done in heaven.
I am talking about Jesus who ate with sinners, did not tolerate hypocrisy and challenged sinners to “go forth and sin no more”; or to put it a different way, “rethink your life, figure out what separates you from God and stop doing that…”
I am talking about Jesus who consistently broke down the barriers of class, privilege, and gender.
I am talking about Jesus who taught love of God and love of neighbor as the heart of the relationship with God. I am talking about Jesus who taught all who would listen to “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.”
I am talking about Jesus whose life was about letting “everyone know that there is hope for all to find peace…” and that there is a better way of life than constantly trying to outsmart our neighbors. I am talking about Jesus who challenged us to celebrate what unites us and respect our uniqueness and individuality instead of drawing lines of separation at our lack of mutual understanding and respect. We are all God’s children.
Loving, Gracious, Healing and Eternal God!
By the birth of Jesus Christ
you gave yourself to the world.
Grant that, being born in our hearts,
Jesus may save us from ourselves and all our sins,
and restore within us the image and likeness
of our Creator,
to whom we give glory, honor and praise,
without ceasing. AMEN
May this Christmas fill your soul with the wonder of Mary, the obedience and trust of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the Wise Men, the hope and faith of Simeon and Anna, and the peace and stillness of the Silent night on which Jesus was born.