Christmas Day 2020
Merry Christmas! Christmas is a lovely holiday and my hope for you during this time of challenge and pandemic you have not felt your Christmas joy be too muted by everything swirling around you. I confess it has been harder for me not to allow muted Christmas joy to happen this year than in any in recent memory. One of the things we might guard against, however -and our readings and music for this Christmas morning are helpful in this – is allowing the Christmas message to become so tiny, so small, that it is easily overwhelmed by the secular holiday folks also call Christmas and/or by all of the truly difficult things that press in on us.
In the Spirit of trying to keep my Christmas morning message brief, I will try to get right to the heart of the Jesus matter. Hear the glowing words in the hymn God rest you merry, gentlemen:
God rest you merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay;
remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day
to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray …
Christmas might remind us of something actually: Christ did not simply come to bring light and love and tenderness, peace and goodness into the world. Christ came to overturn the powers of darkness, sin, and death and purify us for God, holy and blessed. God in Christ has done this, and on Christmas we acknowledge the great arc of salvation that bends from God to us and back to God again in Jesus, the Christ. Christmas marks the beginning of the end of Satan’s power, the power of darkness that manifests itself not necessarily in a pandemic, but the way we respond and care for each other in the midst of it. When a situation, illness, or person brings out the worst in us we can rest assured that a darkness we might call evil is afoot. But, the hymn sings on, “…this day is born a Savior of a pure virgin bright, to free all those who trust in him from Satan’s power and might…” We may not like to talk about satan or darkness ever, it may feel alien to us, but on Christmas day it is important to remember that a sweet, helpless baby born to poor parents (Mary and Joseph) will not be simply a teacher, leader, or prophet: Jesus is the very son of God, the Messiah, the Deliverer and Redeemer who will take away not only our sins, but all darkness, in the end. He has, as John tells us this morning, given us “the power of become children of God.” God’s loving power has done this in Christ, so that we who were far off now have been brought very near by the action, the love, and saving power of God. Today, it begins again. Good news? You absolutely can bet your Christmas boots on that, the very sweetest news we could ever hear, know, or embrace.
So, “Good Christian friends rejoice, with heart and soul and voice; give ye heed to what we say: Jesus Christ is born today … Christ was born for this! … Christ was born to save!” God has started something today that will be His grace and mercy to the world. Let us allow Isaiah to have the last word: “The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation [in He who is Messiah and Savior] of our God.” And that, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is the good news for this and every day. Merry Christmas!