Sermons 2008

What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Christmas Eve 2008                            Luke 2:1-20

             Did you ever wonder what we would have heard and seen if we had been there that night on the very first Christmas?  Would we have heard and seen the choirs of angels singing or only the sight and sounds of barnyard animals shifting around?  Would we have seen the stars dancing in the sky that night or simply two poor, tired, and very frightened people about to become parents in a stable?  Would we have understood the hushed silence of the earth standing still in the divine presence of God come down to earth as and in a little child.  Would we have missed completely the meaning of this cosmic earth changing soul saving, life giving event?

            It is probable that very few people in Bethlehem and all of Palestine for that matter saw and heard and understood what took place that night.  The choirs of angels singing were drowned out by the haggling and trading going on in the Bethlehem town square.  There was a bright star in the sky but no one in Palestine paid it any attention. If anyone did see Mary and Joseph shivering in that stable and needing help as the Christ child was born, they didn’t offer any assistance.

            In one of his All in the Family episodes Edith and Archie Bunker are at Edith's high school class reunion.  Edith runs into an old classmate named Buck who, once thin, was now really fat.  Edith and Buck have a wonderful conversation about the old days and the things they did together.  Edith doesn't seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck is now. Later, when Edith and Archie are talking, she says, "Archie, ain't Buck a beautiful person." Archie looks at her -- disgusted expression -- and says: "You’re a pip, Edith. You know that.  You and I look at the same guy and you see a beautiful person and I see a blimp.”   Edith looks puzzled and then says, "Yeah, ain't it too bad."

            What we see and what we hear depends not upon the events but rather who we are as people. It’s not what is in front of our eyes but what is inside of us.

            In Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol,” the Ghost of Christmas Past has just paid a very discomforting visit to Ebenezer Scrooge.  The old miser is shaken at the time by the entire ordeal. But when he wakes up , he simply dismisses the lesson of the visitation, saying: “Bah, humbug! It wasn’t real. Just a bit of last night’s undigested beef.”

What if we had actually been there in the stable when he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in the manger.  What would we have felt if we had reached out with our finger and his tiny hand had wrapped around our finger.  Would we have felt the tug of God’s hand reaching out to us, reaching deeply into our hearts and minds and souls and leaving us changed, marked as his own, forever. 

            If we had been there at Bethlehem that night what would we have seen?   What would we have understood? This is one way to find out about yourself:   Ask yourself if when you last turned on the news did you see chaos and strife, or did you see the joy and peace of Christmas? When you went out to do your shopping did you see only passing glimpses of the people in the stores or did you notice the worried expressions on some of their faces? Worried because they are facing this Christmas because they don't know how they are going to make ends meet.  Worried because their life’s savings are gone.  Frightened because winter is upon them and the future is uncertain for even their basic survival needs.  What did you see?  What did you understand?

            And ask what you heard this Christmas? Did you hear only music and carols, or did you hear the silent sighs of the hungry, the homeless, the lonely, and the bereaved who may be dreading Christmas because it makes even starker their lot in life?  Or did you hear the sound of laughter coming from children whom you fed, clothed, and to whom you gave toys for Christmas?

            Often what we see and what we hear depends not on the event but on ourselves. If you did in fact hear the cry from the lonely, the laughter of poor children, then you might just have seen what really took place in Bethlehem that night. 

  And you would have felt God’s hand wrapped around yours, the tug of God’s hand reaching out to us, reaching deeply into our hearts and minds and souls and leaving us changed, marked as his own, forever. 




Adapted in part from “What was Seen at Bethlehem”, by Brett Blair and staff,