Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Sunday, December 24, 2023

2023 YEAR B christmas eve

Christmas Eve, 2023
Isaiah 9:2-7
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-20
Psalm 96

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Well, now that the sun has gone down I can finally say it:  Merry Christmas!  Now, to be honest, I am guessing you did not come here tonight to hear me preach a sermon.  And if you did come here tonight to hear me preach a sermon, I think you need to  reevaluate the priorities in your life.

I’m going to be brief, because we all know already why we are here.  Even the most skeptical among us believe that on some level—in the birth of Jesus—God walked among us in the flesh.  And what does that mean for us?  What difference does that make?  Well, all the difference in the world!  But tonight I want to focus on one word.  And that word is peace.

In addition to smaller skirmishes all over the planet, we’re all quite aware of the two horrific wars being fought in distant lands tonight.  Some of us have friends and relatives who are stationed very close to those wars.  And, here, on our own shores, we watch the increasingly bitter politicization of everything from textbooks to beer.  The most extreme among us are openly talking of a new civil war if things don’t go their way.

I’m reminded of that line from the Wadsworth poem that got turned into a Christmas song: And in despair I bowed my head.  “There is no peace on earth I said.  For hate is strong and mocks the song of ‘Peace on earth goodwill to men’.”

And yet, what did the angels announce to the shepherds tonight?  "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”  Peace among those whom God favors.  Which makes us immediately ask, well, whom does God favor?  Our tendency is to say, US, right?  God favors me, my side, my team, my country.  But we know that can’t be true.  God’s peace is not so stingy a thing.  

Because the angel also said, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.  For ALL the people.  So whom does God favor?  All the people.  On Christmas Eve, no one ever mentions the reading from Titus that we heard tonight.  But it’s right there at the opening: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.  Bringing salvation to ALL.  Not just me, or my side, or my team, or my country.  ALL the people.  Whom does God favor?  People.  All people.  Every single person.

Is there anyone God does not favor?  Is there anyone that is beyond the reach of God’s grace and peace?  No there is not.  And Jesus coming to us as a helpless infant is a reminder of exactly that.  The God who created everything that is comes to us a tiny vulnerable baby to show that God is for everyone.  To quote the Genie from Aladdin, “Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty bitty living space.”  

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors!  Every.  Single.  Person.  Merry Christmas.


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