Christmas Eve — The Rev. Karen C. Barefield

Isaiah 9:2-7
Luke 2:1-14

In the name of the one, holy and living God:

in whom we live and move and have our being. Amen.

In those days when Barak Obama was President and Donald Trump was President-Elect, and while Pat McCrory served as Governor, some immigrant farmers were working in the fields, and an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is born this day a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord….

Do not be afraid.

It is a message we all need to hear in these days.

It is so easy to feel small, insignificant and powerless amongst such monumental and horrific tragedies which are taking place around the world, with constant news about which government leader has enacted which atrocities: some global, some local.

“What is next?” we may often wonder.

Even in this holiday season, it is not always so joyous for all.

Family gatherings can be challenging…bringing up painful memories or even creating new ones. Even amongst joyful celebrations, there may be a tinge of sorrow.

And yet the angel says, “Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”

In Isaiah we hear a text from thousands of years ago:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”

For those of us who feel like we walk in a land of deep darkness, to us has been born a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord.

Preaching professor David Lose points out: “When God surveyed humanity and realized how dark and difficult our days could be, how confused we get about our identity and place, how many painful things we do to each other out of that confusion and insecurity, God decided to do something about it.

“And so after giving the law and sending the prophets, God got involved.

“Personally, intimately involved….

“But note: when God decided to get personally involved, God didn’t come to punish, or frighten, or scold, or threaten, or any of the other things that are often attributed to God….

“Instead, God came to tell us that we are loved: deeply, truly, and forever.”

(http://www.davidlose.net/2015/12/christmas-eveday-c-keep-it-simple/)

God became human,

God lived among us,

God suffered among us,

God bore pain, fear, and humiliation,

and God overcame death and rose to new life.

And it is that new life that God offers us…a life of healing and wholeness on the other side – and perhaps even in the midst of – fear and pain and confusion.

David Lose again notes: “Luke witnesses to the irony, even the absurdity of the event we celebrate this night: that God, creator, ruler, and sustainer of the cosmos would not only notice us – our ups and downs, dreams and disappointments, triumphs and tragedies – but would also care about us enough take them on, becoming one of us and one with us.” (http://www.davidlose.net/2016/12/christmas-eveday-a-christmas-beginnings/)

God chooses to show up first in the lives of ordinary and unexpected folks…an unwed mother and blue-collar carpenter, shepherds who sleep in the fields with the stars for a roof, to practitioners of foreign religions.

And God continues to show up in the lives of the broken, the feeble, the poor, the insecure and uncertain, those who feel unworthy of such abundant Grace.

It is the offer of such Grace and unbounded Love which we celebrate this night.

To us, this day, yesterday and tomorrow, has been born a Healer, who came to live among us that we might be restored to Life.

So, this evening I invite you to lay aside your burdens: your fears, your insecurities, past hurts either done by you or to you, any sense of unworthiness you may harbor.

Lay these burdens down before Jesus, the babe, and Christ, the King.

And gaze upon a God who loves us so much that she chose to become one of us so that we might be reconciled to God and one another.

Do not be afraid;

For see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:

To you is born this day…a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

Thanks be to God!