|Easter Sunday, Year A||April 12, 2020||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, 2020||April 10, 2020||Meditation on the Cross, Good Friday, 2020||John 18:1-19:42|
|Palm Sunday, Year A||April 5, 2020||Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday||Matthew 26:18|
|Lent 5, Year A||March 29, 2020||Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A 2020||John 11:1-45|
|Lent 4, Year A||March 22, 2020||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Psalm 23|
|Lent 3, Year A at the Cathedral||March 15, 2020||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2, Year A – March 8, 2020 – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||March 8, 2020||Lent 2, Year A||John 3:1-17|
|Lent 1, Year A||March 1, 2020||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11|
|Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020||February 25, 2020||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Joel 2:1-2, 12-17|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 23, 2020||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 16, 2020||Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Sirach 15:15-20; I Corinthians 3:1-9, I Corinthians 13: 11-12; Matthew 5:21-37; Psalm 119:1-8|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 9, 2020||Epiphany 5, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-9a, [9b-12];Matthew 5:13-20|
|The Presentation||February 2, 2020||Presentation of Jesus in the Temple||Luke 2:22-40|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 26, 2020||Third Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 4: 12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Congregational Meeting||January 19, 2020||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, Congregational Meeting||Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42|
Christmas Eve, Year A
Sermon Date:December 24, 2019
Scripture: Luke 2:14
Liturgy Calendar: The Eve of the Nativity
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among people of goodwill.”
The other day in Bible Study, Helmut said that what he wished for most was peace on earth.
And he’s not alone. I’ve heard many people say that they want peace on earth.
John F. Kennedy said of this season that “for uncounted millions, Christmas expresses the deepest hopes for a world of peace where love rather than mistrust will flourish between neighbors.”
“On earth, peace”—were words that came from the angels the night that Jesus was born.
And although complete and total peace will not be realized on earth until God comes to reign, more peace on earth than we have right now IS possible, made possible by the birth of God’s son on that holy night so long ago and our current response to that birth.
More peace on earth is possible.
Say that with me. More peace on earth is possible.
And here’s why.
That one statement of the angels—“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among people of goodwill”– is cross shaped—a cross shaped message shining through time.
The first part of the message, “Glory to God in the highest” is the vertical part of the message.
When we look to God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, the part of God that we know as almighty and transcendent, when we feel the awe and wonder of knowing God and being in relationship with God, we can’t help but give glory to God, because God has made a passageway that we think of as vertical, between heaven and earth.
Christina Rossetti’s Christmas poem starts out this way, “Love came down at Christmas.” Jesus’ birth reopens in our hearts the highway of God’s love so that God’s love flows smoothly once more from God to each one of us. So we can’t help but to look up and to give glory to God in the highest when we remember Jesus’ birth.
The horizontal part of the angels’ message is this—“and on earth, peace among people of goodwill.”
When we open our hearts to God’s love flowing into us, then we can’t help but open our arms to the world. God’s love for us transforms us into people of goodwill who want to spread the love that God has given to us out into the world.
And when we have goodwill toward others, that goodwill is frequently returned, and peace springs up among those who share God’s love with one another like bright green winter wheat rising out of a barren winter field.
Amanda Ripley wrote an interesting article that appeared in last Sunday’s Washington Post. The article is entitled, “A novel way to make peace: Ask for it.”
In the article, Ripley talks about something called high conflict. High conflict is conflict that takes on a life of its own and feels irresolvable and has its own momentum, when in fact, specific problems creating the conflict can be solved.
There’s a lot of high conflict in the world right now—those conflicts that feel as if they will last forever because they seemingly have no solution. Some of us have personal high conflicts with people in our lives. Our country is experiencing a sort of high conflict in seemingly unsolvable political divisions. High conflict is responsible for creating ongoing chaos all over the world.
Once we are drawn into high conflict, the conflict takes control, and we feel enraged, entrapped, frustrated, and the conflict saps our energy and resources and seems to be permanent, no matter what we do.
Anger, fear and hatred take over.
How’s this for a disturbing statistic from a study that Ripley references—“In a 2017 survey of 1,000 Americans, 40 percent of both Republicans and Democrats said that the other party was “downright evil, and 5 to 15 percent said that they would support some level of violence against their political opponents.” These people who would condone violence were in the minority, but as Ripley points out, high conflict is almost always stoked by a small number of people. It doesn’t take many to incite fear and hatred and, ultimately, more violence.”
No wonder a whole multitude of the heavenly host came to proclaim peace on the night that Jesus was born—it took that whole multitude proclaiming a message of peace to even begin to pierce through the hearts of those who are drawn into anger, fear, and hatred through conflict.
So Ripley suggests that if we want peace on earth, we can simply ask one another for peace. (There’s that horizontal piece of the angels’ message about being people of goodwill.)
Ripley points out that when people are exposed to messages calling for peace, their support for political violence goes down.
When leaders on either side of the political aisle call for peace, the support for political violence goes down. And people actually become less hateful when they hear messages that tell them that it’s not cool to be hateful.
People are even pacified by tweets calling for peace from random strangers.
The birth of Jesus on this earth is God’s way of calling us out of conflict back into the peace that God intended for this earth from the beginning.
So to celebrate this birth of Jesus, let’s ask one another for peace.
To set aside our fears, our angers, and our hatreds, and to ask one another for peace is the way that we can make the peace of God’s love visible and workable on this earth and give glory to God in the highest.
The sky hasn’t been filled with angels now for over two thousand years, but the message of the angels to the shepherds still resounds through time, still burns bright as fireworks in the sky, and still encourages us to hope that our longing for peace on earth is not in vain.
In fact, God no longer needs a sky full of angels proclaiming peace.
We are the ones who get to carry this heavenly message out into the world now.
My job, your job, our job, and our joy is to be God’s messengers in this world—first of all, to give God the glory, and then to be bold about accepting God’s peace, asking one another for peace, and working for the justice that results in peace—for it is in our active openness to peace and our constant seeking of God’s peace that forms us into the cross shaped people of good will who can together with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and with the angels, proclaim to the world,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to all of goodwill.”
Resources: Contrera, Jessica. “As Cold War escalated, JFK assured a child that Santa was safe from Russia.” The Washington Post, B1, Sunday, December 22, 2019.
Ripley, Amanda. “A novel way to make peace: Ask for it.” The Washington Post, A27, Sunday, December 22, 2019.