Merry Christmas Eve!
Most years this one of my biggest work days with multiple worship services to co-preside and a sermon to offer. This year, due to the pandemic, we recorded our indoor Christmas Eve service a couple days ago and we are only gathering outside for a brief time of reading scripture and praying around a campfire and underneath the Christmas lights that adorn our building. It will be quick, it will be quite cold but, I believe, it will also be meaningful. But I will miss offering a word.
As it happens however, I never posted my Christmas Eve sermon from last year. I think it is pretty well done. At the very least I know I enjoyed writing and delivering it. Perhaps it can bring you some joy this Christmas Eve as well.
Christmas — Incarnation — Naming Jesus as Immanuel, God with us — means all those times someone has told you that you are alone, or made you feel you are all alone — you were not alone. God is with you.
If the church, whether this congregation specifically or the church in a more general sense nationally or globally, if the church has made you feel you were alone — then the church was wrong. You are not alone. God is with you.
Whatever it was that someone tried to use to make you think you were alone — they were wrong. For in the birth of Jesus, Immanuel, God says definitively: you are not alone. I am with you.
If you’ve seen any of my sermon posts from this year, you’ll see right away why we had to change how we filmed our services. I think you’ll be able to see the photo I reference, but definitely not the short video we show at the end of the sermon, so that is below too. After ten months of sermons and services without a congregation present, it is its own kind of joy to revisit The Time Before and remember what that was like here. The audio-only option is here also (though this time I think the visuals really add value and meaning).
Now it seems to me, that once we know deep in the center of our being that we are not alone, that God is with us, then we are free to find joy in the world and free to hear God calling us to bring joy to others — especially to those most in need of some joy. Incarnation tells us we can do this.