Christmas Eve 2007
Isaiah 9: 2-7, Luke 1:26-35, 38, Luke 2: 1-20
So, here we are, at the end of Advent. The candles have been lit, the songs sung, the Scriptures read, and the promise of the Peaceable Kingdom pictured.
We’ve listened to Isaiah’s prophecies of what is coming for God’s people—in the midst of their fear of invasion, of war, of the loss of their connection to God, there is Isaiah, speaking the word of hope to the people.
That in God, there will be grace, when people shall be able to live together and cherish each other, and all shall approach God for judgment upon his holy mountain;
That in God, there will be peace, when guns and bombs will no longer be necessary, and children will be able to play near the den of poisonous snakes;
That, in God, there will be Joy, when weaknesses of body and mind will be lifted and all shall be strong and can dance in the presence of God;
That, in God, there will be Hope, when we can live and love on God’s schedule, and not always be trusting only in our own abilities.
A good friend wrote a poem about what Isaiah was prophesying for us, and it is the poem we’ve been using to light the Advent candles for the past four weeks;
Speak a word to us, Isaiah, as you spoke long ago.
Tell the news that comes from Zion; bring the hope we long to know.
Swords and spears are found in gardens tilling soil and pruning trees.
Schools of war are closed and shuttered; from that madness all are freed.
Speak a word to us, Isaiah, of the one from Jesse’s tree.
Tell us of his thirst for justice and his zeal for equity.
In his realm the wolf is harmless; calves with lions rest secure;
Nursing children feel no danger, peace and amity now endure.
Speak a word to us, Isaiah, how the desert will rejoice
As all the exiles struggle homeward and the ransomed find their voice.
Tell how God will heal the sightless, loose the mute, and heal the lame;
How, when they return to Zion, all will praise God’s Holy Name.
Now we come, o blest Isaiah, to the dawning of the morn
When the God of every nation will appear in human form.
What you saw and spoke so boldly in your great prophetic dream
We now see with jubilation in the simple Nazarene.
The simple Nazarene. The boy who was born in Bethlehem, whose parents were compelled to escape to Egypt, who returned and lived and grew in Nazareth. The God of every nation has now appeared in human form, as a baby in a feedbox in a stable to a poor, young, as-yet-unwed mother.
This, this, is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Come quickly, Come quickly to bring him praise, the baby of Mary.
This is our Christ, the one sent by God to teach us about God’s own love for us. This is Our Christ, the one who grew into a man and a teacher. This is our Christ, who grew into the man who chose to teach us the greatest lesson of love. His death showed us the fullness of the love of God, and his resurrection taught us that God is more powerful even than death. All of this, from birth to death, was all for the love of us, the descendants of the two he originally created to be companions.
Christmas calls us to pay attention to one thing—that God is with us; that God came and was among us for a while. Oh, sure; he wasn’t wearing jeans or a suit, he wore a robe; he didn’t drive a car or fly a plane, he walked or rode a donkey; He didn’t listen to an iPod or play Nintendo, but he did dance to music and laughed at weddings. He wasn’t born into the 21st century, but he did all of the important, eternal things that make us human. He had parents, he went through puberty, he was rebellious a time or two.
Because he was born the way we are, because he grew the way we grow, because he felt pain the way we do, we now know that he knows us. And he started as a baby that we celebrate the birth of, tonight.
All through Advent, something’s been coming—Grace, Peace, Joy and Hope. Well, now, Something’s Here! Immanuel, God with us. We can claim that our God knows us because our Lord became human. And that is worth all the Glory, Praise and Honor we can gather up!
Amen and Alleluia!