Christmas A 2016

The night shepherds, quietly watching their flocks are disturbed by a miraculous sight:  an angel of the Lord shining in the glory of God.  What the angel has to say is as unimaginable as its appearance.  ““Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”  These outcasts, the lowly among the lowly, are given the news Israel had waited its whole existence to hear.  They trust their eyes and ears and leave their flocks behind that they might, in the words of our theme this year, “Come and See” this child who fulfills the long awaited promise:  ““Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

[Walk to crèche.]  What they are looking for is remarkable as in the Savior come to earth and as unremarkable as the purported sign of a baby dressed like a baby.  When they come upon the mother and the father and see the child, they stumble into the most humble of scenes, a stable where the child lays in a manger, a feeding trough for the animals.  We must “Come and See” as well.  How did the savior come to us?  As a poor one, as one for whom no room could be found, as a literal outsider.  The king is born just miles from Jerusalem, yet forever away from a palace.  Jesus appears in such a way that every poor person might recognize his coming. 

You know I am always surprised how often I hear people say that they don’t believe in Jesus as God but see him as a great philosopher and model of the way to live.  If he was not the Son of God, where did he get the creative words and moral vision that shapes our world today?  This is not the birth of a noble; in his town few people were likely educated at all.  He does not grow up in Aristotle’s school.  Yet, his ideas hit us as true, hopeful and blessed.  It is as if his DNA were written up on us before our own.  Come and see the fount of all wisdom, the foundation of all love.

[Walk back to ambo]  But it is not enough that we come and see, we must also “Come and Hear.”  Hear and study the words of Holy Scripture that come with such a force that entire meanings of words are changed like “Samaritan” and “talent.”  Hear these stories which echo with such resonance that they still speak to every situation of today.  Listen as truths are told that have stood the test of time.   Hear what God has to say about love and how its salvation is never outdated.   Be amazed at what our God believes we are capable of – “Love one another as I have loved you.”  See yourself through the lens of these words and understand the love with which God sees you.

[Walk to the altar]  But we are invited not just to “Come and See” and “Come and hear,” we gather primarily to “Come and taste.”  Yet, still our God finds us and feeds us in every place as he did for the crowds that followed him when he took a meager amount of bread and fish and satisfied thousands.  He still wants to feed us.  He still wants to feed us through his death and resurrection.  He still wants to be among us with his body.  He still wants to be intimate with us – held in our hands as his mother held him as a child.  When the shepherds came to meet him on that first Christmas night, they searched for a child lying in a manger, where the animals fed.  This child was meant to be food for the world.  And we will not go hungry.

[Walk in the middle of the Assembly]  Before we can “Come and see,” “Come and hear,” and “Come and taste,” we must first “Come and gather” as you have tonight.  Take a look at each other.  Aren’t we beautiful?   There is something special in this night, whether it is sacred to you or you simply hold it as precious because it seems to hold the hope of peace within it.   Whenever we are blessed and together, we are strong.  This parish is where I find my strength.  From our study, our thirst for justice, our feeding the poor to our celebration of these great mysteries, I am ennobled by you.  On Friday, I took three college freshmen to visit nursing homes and homebound people including a 102 year old man.  They simply delighted and marveled at each other’s company.  There are political boundaries and stifling walls – distinctions and barriers throughout our society.  Yet, here they seem to melt when we “Come and gather.”   

[Walk to the doors of the Church]  Yet the facts that we “Come and see,” “Come and hear,” “Come and taste” and “Come and Gather” would mean nothing if we did not “Go and share.”   For what a waste and tragedy it would be if this good news never escaped the walls of this church.  How greedy it would be if we did not want others to rejoice in the blessings we have been given freely!       

Go to Union Street and Rosa Road and every place you live and every place you live and every classroom you occupy and let them know what you have seen, heard and tasted.  Let them gently know where you receive this peace.  Welcome them to the place where Christ welcomes us in word and sacrament.  Where we feel the full vigor of his power in us reflected in the beauty we share with one another. 

Angels allowed shepherds a wonderful sight of a new born king.  Listen to the angels among you and they offer the same light shining right here.  Come and See, Hear and Taste the goodness of the Lord.   Merry Christmas.