a sign. sing!

(a sermon for Christmas Eve)

We gather tonight at the heart of the story. Here the distractions give way. Here the news is still surprising, still wondrous. It is good news in a world of much trouble, heartbreak and sorrow. Strip away all the tinsel and veneer and you will find pain, scars, wounds. The suffering is global. The suffering is local. The story of the birth of the Christ-child is the story of our discovery that the suffering and ache of this troubled world - of our troubled lives - is being healed.

(cue angels)  Angels are holy messengers. They break through the heaven-earth barrier. They speak the language of heaven in a dialect we earthlings can understand. Imagine it is possible. Imagine there are divine messengers who pass between the dimensions of heaven and earth. They arrive with news of a sign that God is on the loose, a sign that God is intent on healing and redeeming broken lives in an aching world. This will be the sign: “You will find a child wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” It is not the neon sign we might have expected from God. It is a subtle, hidden sign. It will take serious searching to spot the signature of God’s entrance into the story. The sign that our story is not, in the end, a tragedy awaits discovery.

(cue shepherds)  The shepherds are on the receiving end of the message. They are witnesses to the angel chorus. You might think that the heavenly host would be sign enough that God is up to something big. But God does not just send word. God commits body and soul to the work of saving and healing the lost and the broken. In Jesus Christ God enters the fray. The shepherds go in search of the King of creation birthed on the margins, in the shadows. They teach those of us who would seek the Saviour to expect our search to take us to the hidden places of the soul and to the forgotten people of the earth.

When the shepherds discover the sign they return glorifying and praising God. They sing! After Christmas Eve we are singers with a song to sing. On this night we are gifted with God’s great sign of hope for one and for all. The sign is an invitation to live a life that resonates with songs and days of determined hope in the face of huge temptation to despair. Imagine your life - our life - as a song of the sign that in Jesus Christ God has not given up - and will never give up - on our trouble, on our neighbour’s trouble, on this world’s trouble. It is the song, it is the life, of a gospel people. Gloria in excelsis Deo. 

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