Two Christmas Eve Meditations

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TitleSermon DateLiturgicalScripture
Pentecost 23, Year CNovember 17, 2019Pentecost 23, Year C, Proper 28Luke 21:5-19
Pentecost 22, Year CNovember 10, 2019Pentecost 22, Proper 27, Year CJob 19:23-27a, Luke 20:38
All Saints, Year CNovember 3, 2019All Saints’ Sunday, Year C 2019Luke 6:20-31
Pentecost 20, Year COctober 27, 2019Pentecost 2, Proper 25, Year C2 Timothy 4:6-8
Pentecost 19, Year COctober 20, 2019Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 24Luke 18:1-8
Pentecost 18, Year COctober 13, 2019Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year CPsalm 111, Luke 17:11-19
Pentecost 17, Year C – Rev. Deacon Carey ConnorsOctober 6, 2019Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C2 Timothy 1:1-14,Luke 17:5-10
Season of Creation 5, Year CSeptember 29, 2019Season of Creation 5, Year BProverbs 8:22-31, Ephesians 1:3-10, Luke 24:13-35
Season of Creation 4, Year CSeptember 22, 2019Season of Creation, Year C, Week 4Luke 16:19-31, Amos 8:4-8
Season of Creation 3, Year CSeptember 15, 2019Season of Creation, Week 3, Year CDeuteronomy 11:10-17, Luke 15:1-10
Season of Creation 2, Year CSeptember 8, 2019Season of Creation, Week 2, Year CGenesis 1:26-2:3, I Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 12:22-31
Season of Creation 1, Year CSeptember 1, 2019Season of Creation 1, Year CGenesis 1:1-25, Revelation 22:1-5, John 1:1-5, 14
Pentecost 11, Year CAugust 25, 2019Pentecost 11, Proper 16, Year CHebrews 12:18-29, Luke 13: 10-17
Pentecost 10, Year CAugust 18, 2019Proper 15, Year C 2019Luke 12:49-56
Pentecost 9, Year CAugust 11, 20199th Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 14, Year CLuke 12:35-38

 

Two Christmas Eve Meditations

Sermon Date:December 24, 2014

Scripture: Luke 2:1-20, John 1:1-5, 14, 16

Liturgy Calendar: Christmas Eve, Year B


Gold is used throughout The Saint John’s Bible to indicate the divine. Here a brilliant shaft of light, executed in gold leaf, rises from the child’s crib, making the Christ Child the focal point of this scene, although he is not pictured. His mother, Mary, gazes tenderly on the infant. The shepherds are women and girls, which was probably the case at the time of Christ. Between the viewer and the unseen infant, the animals form a protective barrier. The ox is modeled on one of the Neolithic cave paintings of great aurochs at Lascaux, France. In the well-known imagery of the Nativity, we see the coexistence of earthly, animal energy and spiritual energy, represented by the angels and the powerful light of God.

The upper text is the angels’ song; the central text refers to this child’s role as "light to those who sit in darkness"; and the lower text anchors the entire illumination in a metaphor of divine light.

PDF version- Meditation One 

PDF version- Meditation Two 

Sermon (Meditation 1), Christmas Eve, 2014 – Luke 2:1-20

On a night long ago in the Middle East, in the small town of Bethlehem, an innkeeper who couldn’t say no to a man whose wife was about to give birth offered the only space he had that could shelter them—a stable.  

Scripture tells us that it was there that Mary gave birth to her first born son and laid him in a manger.

As the night wore on, this stable became a gathering place.  Local shepherds, the outcasts of society, gathered round the manger to find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, to see for themselves that what the angels had told them was true. 

Later, astrologers from other lands gathered round this child with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.    

Throughout his life, people gathered around Jesus hoping that he would touch them and heal them.  Some came longing to hear words of hope and deliverance.   Some came to him simply hoping to be fed.

On his last night with the disciples, before his crucifixion and death, Jesus sat down at a table with his friends, and they shared food together—basic and life giving food—bread and wine.

And  Jesus asked the disciples to remember him whenever they sat down to break bread  and eat together–

Because he would always be there with them.

In the centuries that have passed since Jesus walked on this earth, people have continued to gather in His name, and Jesus continues to be with us, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged, especially when we sit down to eat. 

At first in the simple homes of the poor, lit only by sputtering oil lamps, in dark  underground catacombs, later  in splendid palaces blazing with light; in countless churches, some grand cathedrals, and some small and unpretentious; around the campfires  that the homeless hope will ward off the cold and wet winter nights;  in the dining rooms of retirement homes; in restaurants filled with strangers; in silent spaces where some sit only in the company of their memories; in hospital rooms; in jail dining rooms;  around family kitchen tables;  all over the world, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved, the well fed and the hungry, sit down to eat, and some of them still long to find light, and hope, and love, and peace around their tables as they break bread together.  And Jesus is there with them, an unseen guest, hoping to bless them.    

Tonight, we have gathered  here with one another to hear the story of Jesus’ birth once more, to see again for ourselves this thing that has come to pass, even if only for this moment– peace on earth, good will to all people.    

We gather with those we know well, with  those we welcome into our midst for the first time. We gather with those of us filled with joy and those of us who ache with sorrow. We gather with those of us who have the many adventures of life ahead, and those of us who are resting and remembering.  We gather with  those who believe in God, and those who don’t, and we join  with the countless throngs of those who have gone before us, and who are with us still, separated from us only by the thin curtain of death.

We gather as God’s guests at this table, and Jesus has come to be our guest.

 And as we break bread together, he  blesses us once again with God’s light, love, hope and peace on this Holy Night. 

Amen. 


Sermon, Christmas Eve, 2014  Meditation 2John 1:1-5, 14, 16

Light can be so elusive.

Light appeared out of nowhere in the dark sky above the shepherds and God’s glorious light burned away the darkness around them.

And the angel delivered God’s message of hope to them,

And then the light was gone.

 Once again they were left in darkness.

But the light had awakened their imaginations.  What if this vision of peace on earth in the form of a baby lying in a manger turned out to be true?

And so the shepherds chased this mystery and hurried to Bethlehem through the darkness and found a child enfolded in God’s light, lying in a manger. 

God’s light, God’s Word, God’s very being.

Most of us have heard this story over and over,

and even if we have never been caught up in the radiant light of God’s glory,

because of this story we can see,  even if only dimly,

 somewhere deep in the darkest places of our souls,

 in the darkest places of our lives here together here on this earth,

We can see, when  we look, this elusive light shining in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

Joel A. Patterson tells the story in an editorial in today’s Free Lance Star about the darkness he experienced on  Christmas Eve in 1987, when he was a young naval officer serving on the USS Midway in the Persian Gulf.

Bob Hope and his troupe flew onto the ship and entertained the soldiers.  And Joel thought of home, and his family and the Christmas celebrations that they had shared through the years. 

He experienced what he called “crystal pure absolute loneliness,” a loneliness that “stripped away his outer man, leaving only the naked little boy that still lived inside him, exposed and crying.”

But in this dark loneliness, the light that shines in the darkness began to gleam faintly, as Joel thought about the sacrifice that others had made to come to them and to bring the troops a touch of home.

And the light grew stronger and stronger as Joel remembered what his mother had taught him about Christmas…

 “that our God had taken on the frailty and limited form of humanness, that God might share in human joys and pains and loneliness and deaths. ….it is in the wonder and hope and belief in the love of a God who would willingly share in the mortality and limitations of His fleeting creations that is at the heart of Christmas.”

Joel said that his mother’s teaching hit the mark with him that night,

“that Christmas is in the gathering and warmth of family, in the hearts of loved ones and those we care about….drawing  together against the world’s cold darkness” to share the light with one another,

The light that shines in the darkness, the light that even the darkness of death cannot overcome. 

When we lift our candles tonight, may the doors of our hearts swing open to let in the  light of God’s radiant glory, and fill us with God’s hope and  peace and fiery love.

From God’s fullness we have all received, grace upon grace,

So that we can become God’s light and hope and peace for one another, and for the world. 

Amen.

 

Resource:  Patterson, Joel A.  “The importance of family from far away.”  Article in The Free Lance-Star, Page A7, Wednesday, December 24, 2014.

 

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