The following is among the scribbled notes I'll carry into this morning's Christmas service.
It is outline in nature with a few key phrases to trigger some extended thought.
The order of the day, however, is brevity. Otherwise, my kids will revolt!
There are some texts on some occasions that are not to be "preached." They are the sermon - the homiletical task is to avoid getting in the way.
A "Word" If You Please
Christmas Day 2005
In the beginning was the "word," the Logos.
The Feast of the Nativity cannot come apart from the realities of the world into which the Christ is born.
Even as angels sang and shepherds kept watch there were principalities and powers at work to divide, conquer, destroy. The very census that demanded Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem in the first place was a means for Rome to keep control of it's territory.
Neither can we ignore the realities of our day even as we proclaim "Joy to the World." For such a word breaks into the principalities and powers that perpetuate hatred, division, war and puts them on notice "the Lord is come, let earth receive her King." To do so is to pervert the radical news of Christmas and reduce it to sentimentality thereby robbing it of the scandal that it is.
But the Nativity reminds us that God does not shirk from the redemption of the world in the face the turmoil we can bring upon ourselves. To the contrary, despite our capacity to make a mockery of all things Sacred, and maybe because of it, God comes and breaks out camp right in the middle of it all and dares us not to notice.
Even more than that Christmas is that "outward and visible sign" of what has always been true that we have never been apart from God's presence, we never will be and that
3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life,* and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1.3-5
When we turned away and our loved failed, your love remained steadfast. The Eucharistic Prayer
While invitations are freely given to be people of the light, to live the good news, I'm wondering now if Christmas is that last best kept secret to turn our lives into something different than they've been.
As the angels told the shepherds, so to, are we told, to come and see this thing that has taken place.
And so, today, sisters and brothers, a "word" if you please.
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 -->who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 -->And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. John 1-12-14
Epilogue to "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!