|Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013||March 31, 2013||Easter Day, Year C||Isaiah 65:17-25, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24I Corinthians 15:19-26, Luke 24:1-12|
|Good Friday, March 29, 2013||March 29, 2013||Good Friday, Year C||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, March 28, 2013||March 28, 2013||Maundy Thursday, Year C||Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116:1,10-17, I Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2013||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 10, 2013||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Joshua 5:9-12, Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 3, 2013||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Exodus 3:1-15, Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||February 24, 2013||Philippians 3:17-4:1||Sermon, Second Sunday in Lent, Year C|
|First Sunday in Lent, Year C||February 17, 2013||First Sunday in Lent, Year C||Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Luke 4:1-13|
|Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013||February 13, 2013||Ash Wedneday||Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 103, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 10, 2013||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Luke 9:28-36, II Corinthians 3:12-4:2|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 3, 2013||Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, I Corinthians 13:1-13, Luke 4:21-30|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany||January 27, 2013||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Nehemiah 8:1-10, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:14-21|
|Second Sunday after Epiphany||January 20, 2013||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||1 Corinthians 12:1-11|
|First Sunday after Epiphany||January 13, 2013||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Luke 3:15-17, 21-22|
|The Feast of the Epiphany||January 6, 2013||Epiphany, Year C||Matthew 2:1-12|
Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012
Sermon Date:December 24, 2012
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
Liturgy Calendar: Christmas, Year C
“And there were in that country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”
The Free-Lance Star has been full of stories about shepherds lately.
Chris Troy and his family were like sheep without a shepherd.
After Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island, Chris went back to the family’s small ranch house a few blocks from the ocean, only to find the house completely unlivable.
Although he was a firefighter who was proud of his ability to cope with anything, Chris now found himself in a situation that he couldn’t manage on his own.
Chris and his wife Kerry Ann had no idea where to take their three children, including their twelve year old son with a rare neuromuscular disease. First, they stayed with relatives in Connecticut for a week, and then they found a hotel room in Garden City so that they could get the children back into school.
One afternoon, a school administrator told Kerry Ann about a vacant summer house, fully furnished, and the owners wanted to donate the use of the house to a family displaced by the storm. The Troys would be able to live there as long as necessary while they sorted out their lives.
And then, Sister Diane at St Ignatius Martyr church sent Kerry Ann a text message and told her to please answer her cell phone because she was going to get a call.
The caller was Donald Denihan, who wanted to help the family repair their home. And so they met with Denihan at their flooded out house. Denihan had brought a contractor with him. As they walked through the house, Denihan talked to the children. He was kind and full of purpose.
After going through the house, Denihan told the family that he would rebuild their home, and add needed improvements like a wheelchair accessible shower. He told the family that he would take care of everything and that they would start first thing the next day.
The Troy family now had a shepherd.
In Newtown, Connecticut, Gene Rosen had just fed his cats when he saw six small children sitting at the end of his driveway.
The four little girls and two little boys were like sheep without a shepherd, crying and in distress.
Rosen took the children into his house, gave the children his grandchildren’s stuffed animals, and found out what had happened. He comforted them, as best he could, until their terror stricken parents came one by one to get them.
These children, lost and in danger, had found a shepherd.
And their teacher, Victoria Soto, who had managed to get some of the children in her classroom into a closet before the killer could shoot them, and died protecting them, had also been their shepherd, willing to lay down her life to protect her sheep.
Closer to home, that same Friday afternoon, one of our parishioners, still weakened by recent back surgery, sat at a table and cut up five pounds of chicken for the chicken noodle soup that his wife was making for the community dinner that night.
After the soup was done, he did what he could to help her get everything ready for the community dinner here in Port Royal. By the end of the dinner, he was exhausted, and when he got home, he went straight to bed.
This parishioner, and others who helped with the community dinner that night, were like shepherds who provided food for the flock who gathered to enjoy being together as a community for the Port Royal Christmas tree lighting.
Another parishioner this week came over to the church and prepared all of the costumes for yesterday’s Christmas pageant, making sure that everyone in the play had something to wear. She carefully labeled everything and hung the costumes out.
Those in the play found when they got there that a shepherd had come before them and made their rehearsal time much more efficient because of her work earlier that day.
The Christmas story is full of miracles surrounding the miracle of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, and this appearance filled them with fear.
But their fear turned to joy when they heard the words of the angel.
Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
And then another angel and another, and another, until the whole wide dark sky was filled with light, and voices singing,
“Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to all, whom God favors.”
And after the light faded, and the sky grew dark again, and the angelic voices faded into silence, the shepherds made a decision.
And so they went to Bethlehem, to see this thing which had come to pass. The shepherds found Mary and Joseph hovering over the feeding trough that held their newborn son.
Scripture tells us that when they had seen that the promise of the angel was true, the shepherds told everyone what the Lord had made known to them, and all who heard their story wondered at what they had heard.
As the shepherds returned to the field and to their flock, glorifying and praising God, the darkness was fading, and the the dawn was breaking. A new day had begun.
Even now, the Christmas story is full of miracles.
The fact that we still gather together after all of these centuries to hear the angels sing, and to see for ourselves the baby lying in the manger is a miracle given all of the distractions in our lives.
The miracle of the Christmas story is that we now know, all over again, that the birth, the life, the death and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ means that we sheep have a good shepherd.
Jesus, this little child, grew up to be the shepherd who watches over us, who feeds and cares for us, who walks with us through the dangerous places in our lives, who guides us to safety, and who at last brings us to a peaceful rest and to a perfect end.
And the miracle of Christmas is that we can see the world around us with new eyes—we can see the signs of Jesus’ birth everywhere around us in the deeds of those who have seen for themselves the baby in the manger and whose lives have been forever changed.
In Newtown, Christmas lights shining in the darkness, people from all over the country offering what they can—visits from therapy dogs, cards from school children around the country pouring in, hundreds of people replicating the Sandy Hook classrooms down to the paint colors of the walls, the placement of bookshelves and cubby holes, the configurations of desks in the school that the children from Sandy Hook will be attending—people being shepherds.
But most of all, the miracle of Christmas is that when we return to our dark fields, and see the dawn breaking in the eastern sky, we see in the light of this new day, that not only are we God’s sheep, but that we too can grow up to be God’s shepherds,
the shepherds who, with God’s help, can lead the sheep to food and water.
the shepherds who, with God’s help, can restore souls.
the shepherds, who with God’s help, can lead others to God’s paths of righteousness.
the shepherds, who with God’s help, are willing to face danger and even death on behalf of the sheep.
the shepherds, who with God’s help, prepare the banquet tables that reflect the glory of that heavenly banquet table that God is preparing, even now, for us.
Tonight, we are the shepherds who have seen a great light. The dawn is breaking. A new day has come.
And the greatest miracle of Christmas is that Jesus, our great good shepherd, has come to help us. Amen.