Luke 2:15-20
The Rev. Adele K. Langworthy, preaching
December 24, 2023 (7:00 p.m.)

This night each year, we Christians visit the same moment in history, the same manger, the same accounts of Jesus’ birth in a lowly stable.  We are reminded that there were shepherds in the fields tending their flock, angels appearing in the sky, while Mary & Joseph were by the side of their newborn, doing all they could to provide what their baby comfort and care in the less than ideal circumstances.

Now, we may return to this night because we just want to hear the familiar story that warms our heart; we may return because we didn’t know where else to go as we search for meaning and peace; we may return because we have come to know the gift of Jesus as our Savior and know it is this night that put that gift into motion on earth for all eternity.

For whatever the reason …

  • each person that has chosen to step aside from the commercialism of this season to center themselves on the perfect gift given on this night over 2,000 years ago
  • each person that has chosen to pause from the world’s demands on their time to give God a chance at catching their attention
  • each person that is desperately seeking peace and comfort in the midst of struggle and danger
  • or for reasons not mentioned here,

all who have chosen to show up, this holy night across the lands, in God’s holy presence, are in a position to reflect, to be vulnerable, and to fall on bended knee before the Lord.

[O Holy Night (sung and interpreted through dance)]

Holy was that first Christmas night, holy is this night.  The message from the angel to the shepherds in a field is a message for us thousands of years later — the fulfillment of promise, the fulfillment of prophecy.

Do not be afraid!  What brings fear into your soul?  — physical needs not being met, some threatening personal danger, spiders, elevators, heights, failure?   Most of us can name at least one fear we harbor.  The words of the Prophet Isaiah:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

are not just for the people of Isaiah’s day, but for the shepherds on that dark night when the angel and multitude of heavenly hosts appeared and for you and me as we embrace the gift of God’s Son as we live out our days.

There is good news to be told, good news of great joy.  God’s Son is on-site, the anointed one has arrived — the long awaited Messiah for all people, for all time!  The prophecy delivered by Isaiah has been fulfilled:

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders, and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Great will be his authority, and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom. 
He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.

This message is just too good to keep to ourselves.  Just as the shepherds went and saw the Christ child and knew that they could not keep the news to themselves, we can do likewise.  The shepherds made known what had been told them and what they saw.  They could not contain their joy as they glorified and praised God for God’s wonderous work and gift of love, nor should we.  The good news is not just for ourselves and for those in our circle of acquaintances and friends — it is good news for the world.   The words delivered by the Prophet Isaiah from God are for times past, but are also relevant, real, and true for these days as they are realized in Jesus, the Christ:

I will give you as a light to the nations,  that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Friends, the Light has come, Jesus the light of the world illumines our lives,  and with believing hearts we can help share the good news of love and light.

I might want to share news of a good sale with others that they might take advantage of the deals, someone else might want to share about a new book they just read and encourage people to read it, and still others might want to share their favorite new food that others might try it.  Now if each of us are willing to share these little joys with others and bless them, how much greater impact we can have if we share the news of the greatest source of joy?

In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan tells this story:  “A family of five, with three kids under the age of ten, chooses to celebrate the birth of Christ in a unique way.  On Christmas mornings, instead of focusing on the presents under the tree, they make pancakes, brew an urn of coffee, and head downtown.  Once there, they load the coffee and food into the back of a red wagon.  Then, with the eager help of their three-year-old, they pull the wagon around the mostly empty streets in search of homeless folks to offer a warm and filling breakfast on Christmas morning.

“All three of the Robynson kids look forward to this time of giving a little bit of tangible love to people who otherwise would have been cold and probably without breakfast.”

You don’t need to go big scale to share the light of Jesus with the world — one act of kindness, one gesture of agape love, one smile, one sentence of hope, one look from your eyes that says my heart believes in a Savior and he invites you to believe too — can put the ball into motion — for a heart to become a believing heart.

When lights come close together, they increase the overall brightness many times over.  When we join together in the light of Jesus, we can have greater the impact in the world for the kingdom of God.

If you are worshipping with us in-person, you are invited to light your candles now as we sing Silent Night and if at home, perhaps you have a candle to light or a light near you that you can turn on.  And as we remain seated to sing, may we raise our candles in honor of the greatest gift too good to keep to ourselves.

May we have eyes to see and hearts to believe to share the light of Jesus everywhere.

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