a Sermon for Christmas
Merry Christmas! We have joyously arrived at the eve of Christmas, that day in which we celebrate, not just the birthday of a special child, but the very incarnation of GOD: GOD’s incredible presence with us and in our world.
It is one of our favorite feasts and holidays. One that brings great joy and fellowship throughout our world. And hopefully most of us feel so joyous after a particularly rough season of Advent this year.
Tonight, we celebrate the kickoff to a great season characterized as much by our family experiences of divine fellowship as by A Charlie Brown Christmas. A time in which our experience of the power of GOD’s work in our lives is found where it always is, in the love and generosity of our friends, our neighbors, and even strangers.
The name we use for the holiday is Christmas, which is not a description of the holiday itself, but the traditional Latin celebration of the holiday in the Christ Mass: three masses at night, dawn, and day, to celebrate three aspects of the Incarnation. A more fitting name for the holiday may be the Feast of the Incarnation, the day in which we celebrate in worship the coming of GOD’s holy Word in human form, that Jesus would be born as a human, live as a human, and would die as a human.
We are also reminded in the Incarnation that Jesus didn’t come once, 2,000 years ago, only to stay away. That Jesus comes to us and will return to reconcile the world. This understanding of this feast day means that our focus isn’t only on that little baby, but on the promise of change and transformation that comes with him. The promise that we will be changed inside and out. As individuals and as a society. And that our work is found in bringing that change to the world and in Christ’s name.
And this is the rub; the part that continues to challenge us. The Incarnation, then, isn’t just about GOD coming among us and Jesus being born or even the promise of Jesus’s return. The Incarnation means that as Jesus came as the Word among us, we are to become incarnational. That we are part of GOD’s revolution. We are compelled by Paul to be the hands and feet of the Body of Christ, the living embodiment of GOD. We are compelled by Jesus not to act certain ways but to be certain people. We are to live intentional, Spirit-filled lives of devotion to GOD, the holy trinity.
Tonight, as we sing, eat, and drink, may we see Jesus in one another. That little bit of magic we foolishly call “the Chrismas spirit” is not really magic. It is not the result of a seasonal incantation. It is truly the Incarnate Spirit, the very work of GOD in us. Bringing GOD’s priorities of love and joy and service out of us.
May we share that spirit gracefully.