Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve 2016

“Sometimes The Lord has a Child’s face”

Matthew 1:18-25                                                                                                                                  John 1:1-18

Without overstating the obvious, the Holy God and Creator of all that is seen and unseen revealed Himself in as humble a place and in as innocent a way as we can imagine.  The only ones more humble than the Holy One in this Sacred Moment were those to whom the Message had been entrusted: the shepherds.  Because it may not be a matter of who is more worthy to receive the Message (the entire world had been judged worthy!) – but who is more likely and willing to share it … those who perhaps had nothing to lose or were unafraid to lose what little they may have had.

It is the kind of Message with the capacity not to simply change our way of thinking but to completely transform our whole being - not in a single event or a single profession of faith but in being constantly renewed not only in what we choose to believe but in how we choose to live according to those beliefs.  It is the difference in being an adult convinced there is nothing more to know or to see or to learn – and a child for whom every single day is a new adventure, a new friend, a new joy – the perpetual hope only a child can fully appreciate and express.  Jesus Himself said as much: “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3). 

It stands to reason, then, that the best and purest form of what we can offer to The Lord is not found in our religious practices or our prayers or our tithes, though these things are important as expressions of our gratitude, faith, joy, and hope.  The purest form is in our child-like willingness to trust in spite of risk, to share in spite of risk, to make new friends in spite of risk, to open the joy of our world and our lives and all we have to others in spite of risk.  Faith is not about believing only one thing and calling it “good”; faith is trusting and living in perpetual hope that one thing will always lead to so much more. 

This is the necessary excitement we too often lack as adults.

Think of it in the terms of a child.  We know children must be taught to share, but we also know a child who refuses to share will eventually be found alone.  No child wants to hang out with the kid who closes off his world if there is no hope of being invited to share in those good things and in that joy. 

It is only when the kid finally understands that selfishness and greed bring only loneliness that the child will begin to take a chance and open his world – and his joys - to others … not to give away but to fully share without reservation, to share his joy with others and begin to understand the sacred value of True Joy found only in fellowship and community.

This is why the news of the Birth of Christ could not be restricted to any single individual.  This remarkable News is not meant to be “personalized” or modified in any way to fit only our individual need – thus shutting others out.  Rather, it is in this astonishing Invitation from the Eternal Kingdom that “me” no longer exists but becomes all of Christ in all of us in the purest of forms – that of a Child. 

Renewing ourselves in the Birth of Messiah, breaking away from the mundane, and discovering yet again that necessary child-like faith is as being “born again” in the newness of Life, the purity of innocence, and the renewed hope that tomorrow can and will always be better than today.

We celebrate this Day as the Newness of Life offered to all without reservation and the renewed commitment it is meant to be – in the face of the Holy Child and in the child-like faith of our transformed lives. 

Merry Christmas tonight … and to all a better tomorrow!  Amen.

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