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.


the church of holy magnification

We are on the verge of Christmas. In just three days we gather to celebrate on the eve of the holy birth. If we are not careful we may get ahead of ourselves. But the text will not allow us to get to Christmas yet. It sets us in Mary’s first trimester. Luke picks up the story at the moment angel Gabriel announces that Mary will conceive and bear a child. Then Luke writes: “In those days.” In those days immediately after the conception of the Messiah. It is early - very early - in her pregnancy when Mary visits her elderly cousin Elizabeth in the Judean hill country. The first evidence that the angel’s announcement is not in error comes when Elizabeth - now in her six month - senses unborn John leaping in her womb when Mary, not showing yet, arrives. Elizabeth, overflowing with the Holy Spirit, shouts out blessings, amazed at her impossibly good fortune. Our nativity scene needs a second building. In addition to a stable we need a Judean peasant’s home, where Mary spends three months with cousin Elizabeth, pondering what is happening to her, preparing for the birth of the Messiah. That is what we do here this morning. We ponder what is happening to us as we prepare for the arrival of the Messiah. There is not much time. But there is enough time.