Dec25MonPastor Carey's Christmas Morning Sermon December 25, 2017
From our bell tower the church announces good news to the community. The organ can be heard by those walking on the nearby streets peppered with footsteps. From the rafters song burst forth, and like the shepherds we come to be in the presence of the Christ child born for us. From the readings this Christmas we gather much about the enduring meaning of this God with Us Story.
A message of hope is found in Second Isaiah.
From the watch tower the sentinel gazes over the land. Approaching far off on the horizon is a messenger. A dawning hope awakens a hurting people. No longer will they be captive. Life will be restored. The sentinels gives hope to the people long exiled. The hope is to be: Reunited. Rooted. Placed. At home. With God. With each other.
I think of the St. Matthews bell tower. If we were to climb up and peer down Benton street to city centre. Look we see the good news coming. A gift most grand.
They watch as the messenger comes across the mountain. In plain sight. Look! You can see. Your God reigns. Good news of peace and comfort for all people is almost here. It is coming toward us. You ruins of Jerusalem, Break forth into singing. You have faced hardship, but someone is coming who will who will calm the weary soul and ushering in a peaceful way. It is no wonder Isaiah describes the feet of the messenger to be beautiful.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to the people, your God reigns. We take comfort in these words of a good news messenger coming near. Who doesn’t want to be in the presence of a messenger who brings peace.
This verse has been a simple refrain on a few occasions in my life. As I cradled my new born babes in arm, this verse was a simple refrain. Yes indeed, even the tiniest of feet bring good news. Washing the faithfully worn Maundy Thursday feet, worn and tired feet carry beauty too. Even as I have been deeply encouraged by these messengers with beautiful feet. This passage likely has less to do with the messenger, and more to do with the message.
The message of the nativity continues to provide a powerful witness to how and where God is born into the world today. We know it by heart. Even so, the paradox is that something we know so well - (like our spouse family) can still surprise us and leave us in complete awe at the simple complexities of God with us here on earth.
At Christmas, it’s on the margins of life that the God With Us story meets us. Greeting first those on the fringe of power and privilege with the promise of God’s love for all creation. You are important to God. So much so, that God would entrust Jesus to people on the margins of life.The shepherds tending their flocks - the first to hear. Mary, without riches and status of a pregnant unwed teenager. Engaged to a gentle carpenter Both equally confused and yet willing to follow the God of their hearts. The two receive celestial comfort to continue on their way.
Back to their birthplace they go to be counted, numbered and taxed. Even as high as 90 percent. In Bethlehem - there no room to be found in the inn. The baby in womb does not wait to take residence in the world. The animal stable with companions of fur beside will show us thousands of years later, that God chose to birth life in a stable. A place unfit for a king - and yet perfectly suited for Jesus a different type of king. Who turns upside down the order of the world as we know it.
What has become for us the picture perfect Christmas card, was not so on that first night.But even on the margins real life and relationship begins to take root. God, in and through Jesus, goes right to the least of these . Loving the people and places where life isn’t so polished, and the way forward is a little more ambiguous. …
It is here that new life makes its first cry. When you’ve stepped out into unknown territory. Taken risk. When the path forward isn’t entirely clear. From what we hear in the God with us narrative… that’s exactly where the first cry of new life is heard. The first cry is a struggle but you want to hear it, you need to hear it.
And this tiny baby named Jesus grows up into a man who restores wholeness, binding up that which is broken, welcoming the sinner and stranger, ushering a way of peace upon the earth.
John's God of Relationship
Finally, from John’s Gospel what we hear is this:
In the beginning was the word…
And the Word was and is all about relationship.
And the relationship continues to be all about God’s love for us, and our love for each other. Through God’s creative work life continues to be born into the world. Life is born in our hearts and communities… A life that is a light to all people. That shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.
At Christmas time, this is the good news that rings from our bell tower. Each time we gather. And although it is the same each year, it impacts us a new, because with each moment we are being made anew. God’s beloved and cherished creation.
In the hushed and exuberant moments of Christmas, a glimpse is caught of God’s love poured out for all of creation. God cradles the newborn life in us, uniting our own life with that of God’s. The two become inseparable.
In God we find ourselves:
Nurtured. Loved. Created. Of great worth.
Dearest people of St. Matthews, and you who join us listening on the radio ……