Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let Us Go and See this Thing that has Come to Pass -- A Sermon for Christmas

Homily for Christmas Eve, Year B, 2008
Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Thornhill, ON
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: Luke 2:1-21

Let Us Go and See this Thing that Has Come to Pass

I bring you Good News of great joy, which shall be for all people. A Word has gone out to all the nations, a Word that echoes across the ages into our hearts and souls this very night. A Word has gone out, more enduring, more powerful than any word or decree uttered by any emperor, king, or ruler of any age. A Word has gone out not only into the darkest corners of the world but into the darkest corners of our hearts. It is a Word that came to shepherds abiding in the field; it is a Word that reached distant wise men who pondered the stars; it is a Word that was birthed in the willing hearts of a young and frightened couple in a stable in Bethlehem – the Word made flesh, Jesus our Lord and King.

I bring you Good News of great joy that what was cast down is now being raised up, what was old is being made new, what is broken is being restored. Let us go then and see this thing that God has made known unto us. Let us see what God has done. Yes, my friends what has been made known and what has been done. We speak not about the past or only about the future but about the present. We speak about today.

We live in a world full of crisis, and we may look longingly back at an idyllic golden age (that never really was), or we may hope against hope for a better day to come. At times its seems like our only hope is rooted in the hope of tomorrow. In a world of terrorism and wars on terrorism, in a world in which gun violence grips our cities, in a world in which poverty and epidemic run rampant, in a world in which our environment seems irreversibly destroyed, we feebly hope that tomorrow will be a better day. But the hope of tomorrow is a feeble one indeed. If we have not fared well in the past, and if we have not acted well in the present, what hope have we for tomorrow?

But the Christmas message is not a message for tomorrow. It is not a pipe dream for the future. It is the breaking through of a reality that God has acted and is acting now. Hope is not long past or future-flung, it is now, in Christ. Will any of us dare to believe it is so? In the midst of economic crisis, ecological crisis, socio-political crisis, can we, will we, dare we believe that a Word has gone forth and that God has acted?

Can you believe it?

Consider for a moment that in the muck and mire of first century Palestine, under foreign domination and oppression, in the midst of political uncertainty, terrorist uprising, economic disparity, God came into the world. To a people without hope, to a people with a broken spirit, to a people who longed for a better tomorrow but feared it would never come, God entered in. He did not tarry, he came and the word uttered to the people, to shepherds abiding in the field was not “wait,” but “come hither and see what God has done.” To these ancients God became human and lived amongst them.

And to you, whose heart is broken this night, he comes.

And to you, who have lost your job and fear what the future holds, he comes.

And to you, whose retirement savings have disappeared these past few months, he comes.

And to you, as your family life is in turmoil, he comes.

And to you, who have lost your beloved this past year, he comes.

And to you, who fear for the anxiety of tomorrow, he comes.

Unto each one of us, in our personal brokenness, into the muck and mire of our lives, into the complicated business we call “life”, into the confusion of our lives, he comes with healing in his wings. You may not hear angels singing or trumpets heralding his coming, but he has come.
To any who were once alone but comforted by another, he has come.

To any who have made a terrible mistake and felt the forgiveness of another, he has come.

To any who have lost something or someone dear and felt the outpouring of love and support by family and friends, he has come.

And even in the silence of the moment when all seems lost, even in that silence, he is there.

These are the angelic choruses that herald his living and abiding presence among us. These are the heavenly songs here on earth that remind us we are not alone, and what is more, that we have been saved from every evil that the world can throw at us. This is the Glory of God illumined all around.

Angels appeared to trembling shepherds. The Glory of the Lord shone round about them enveloping them and calming their fear with joyous tidings that the Lord had come. A Word of hope came to them and they turned their faces toward Bethlehem, and they were not afraid. In the love and care of others in Christ, we are enfolded in that same glory and in that same love. And in our comfort and care of others we enfold them in that same love. Thus we have no cause to fear for Christ is born and the world is changed. We are surrounded by the glory of God. And we turn.

Seek the signs of the Word made flesh. God is disclosing them moment-by-moment in spite of, and in the midst of a broken world. Seek the signs not in the courts of kings, or the halls of parliaments, or in the offices of Bay Street. Seek them not at the end of a rifle or in the commands of generals or in the movements of armies, for God discloses himself in gentleness, in deep humility, in the arms of an unwed teenaged mother, in the dampness of a lowly stable.

In acts of gentleness, in kindness and humility he is made known to us. In acts of forgiveness, contrition, and compassion he comes. God is found in brokenness. God is found in our poverty, both spiritual and material. Yet make no mistake, his humility is his power and his poverty is his strength, for it is in his humiliation that our broken hearts are mended and in his poverty that we are richly filled. Let us go then unto Bethlehem seeing and believing this thing that the Lord has done.

Text copyright 2008 by the Rev. Daniel F. Graves. This homily may not be reproduced or redistributed, either in whole or part, by any means, without the express, written permission of the author.

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