Year B — Christmas Eve/Christmas Day (Nativity of the Lord, Proper 1)

Commentary for December 24/25, 2011
Click here for today’s readings

Isaiah 9:2-7
I always wanted my family to hear from Ed McMahon when I was growing up. You know, the annual Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes? Ed and his crew would show up at your front door with a giant, over-sized check made out to “The Fairless Family” for One Million and no/100Dollars!

That’s what I imagine when I read the line in Isaiah day about “as people exult when dividing plunder.” How thrilled would I have been to divide the “plunder” of an unexpected bonus with my family members? Is that how I feel about the coming of the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace?

Psalm 96
I’m interested in the repeated admonition to “ascribe to the Lord” the glory due God’s name. Ascribing something generally means to give credit where credit is due. I like that.

But, of course the original meaning goes even deeper; scribere is “to write,” or even more literally, “to make a mark.” When it comes to praising God for the wonder of creation, of Christ — we need to write it down — “book it,” if you will. Mark this day — this holy day — as the day we give God all the glory for Christmas!

Titus 2:11-14
Paul reminds us, in his words to Titus, that we have been waiting for a blessed hope, a manifestation (an outward demonstration, a materialization of something that has previously only been imagined) of the glory of God. And now, that for which we have been waiting has appeared.  


Salvation is actually here, right in front of us — all around us, actually. Open your eyes, see it, feel it, hear it. Know it to be true to the depths of your soul. Jesus Christ is God, with us!

Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)Cue Linus.

The Christmas speech from Charlie Brown’s best bud is indelibly burned in the consciousness of the Peanuts generation; happily, through the magic of DVD’s and Blu-Ray, the immortal moment lives on for new generations, as well.

Have you stopped to consider what a joy it is to continue to tell this story, year after year? We don’t want to let it ever become blase, just another story that we read.

Whether it’s the “terror” of the shepherds at the first sighting of the angels, or the deep pondering of the Holy Mother at all that was happening around her…may we recover some of the mystery and awe of the events described in the gospel in our own hearing and telling.

Sermon
by the Rev. Dr. Delmer L. Chilton
 

A few years ago I went down to a retirement center to hear the Choir sing. It was a good show.

They did a very hilarious version of “I ain’t getting nuttin’ for Christmas.”

Do you know the song? A little boy sings about all the mischief he’s been in, and then the chorus goes:

“I ain’t getting nuttin’ for Christmas, ‘cuz I ain’t been nuttin’ but bad”

After I finished laughing, I started thinking and realized that while that line sums up a lot of our thinking about how God works, it’s just not true.


Indeed, it is the exact opposite of the Gospel truth of this night; it is because we “ain’t been nuttin’ but bad” that we have received the one gift we needed, which is Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Not just or primarily us as individuals, but us as the human race, us as humanity.

As the Bible says, God so loved the World, the Cosmos, that he sent his only beloved Son.

No, it’s not that we are individually evil; it’s that the world is in a mess, and can find no way out.


The Christ was born at a time of political and social unrest.

Israel was once again a conquered country, living under the domination of the Romans,
ruled by King Herod, a cruel, cruel man.

When Christ came, there was hunger and social injustice and war raged upon innocents, all in the name of such things as Truth and Justice and National Security.


Then as now, the old values had become skewed and obscured and unrecognizable, and no one knew whom they could trust.

And into such a world God sent the Son.

The message then and the message now is that we are not alone in the midst of the world’s evil,


Though we, collectively,” ain’t been nuttin’ but bad, we’re still gettin’ something for Christmas.”

God has come to us in the midst of our distress. In the middle of our loneliness and despair,

God has sent us a sign of his love.

Into a world filled with hopelessness, God comes to us in the hopeful form of new life and new birth.

Christ came to be a beacon of light in a dark world.

Christ came to show us love in the midst of hatred and strife.

Christ came to bring life in the midst of death.
The cross is a reminder to us that Christ did not come to be cute.

Christ came to preach, teach, heal, suffer and die.

Just as the Cross looms over our altars, the cross hovers over the manger of the Christ Child.

Christ did not come so that we can have parties and give gifts.

Christ did not come, to reward us for being good, but to save us from being bad.
Christ came to show us the love and care of God in the midst of a deadly and dangerous world.
Christ came to show us how to live and how to die.
Christ came to die upon the cross for us, to save us from sin, death and the devil.

When we realize that, we are ready to celebrate with somber joy and reverent jubilation.

“I’m getting’ sum-thin’ for Christmas, even though I been nuttin’ but bad.”
“For unto us a child is born, who is Christ the LORD.”

Amen and amen.

2 thoughts on “Year B — Christmas Eve/Christmas Day (Nativity of the Lord, Proper 1)

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