Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014 Sermon

Rev. George Miller
Dec 24, 2014

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

That’s the question we explored on Sunday; it is a question we return to this evening.

We are blessed to be gathered here tonight, to anticipate the birth of Jesus. It’s a joy to be away from the darkness of the world and to be bathed in the light of Christ.

We just heard a series of readings from the Gospel of Luke. How the angel appears to Mary and tells her she will bear a son.

How Mary travels to visit her cousin. How Elizabeth’s child jumps within her womb.

How Mary and Joseph journey into Bethlehem and she gives birth in a manger.

Angels appear to shepherds and sing their praises before returning to heaven. With haste the shepherds go visit this new family and make known what they know.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

If you pay attention, you’ll notice that each of these stories feature a journey. Mary, the angels, the shepherds, Joseph-they all make a journey. Even Elizabeth’s unborn child moves when he leaps within her.

But perhaps you’ve noticed something else: we’ve only heard from Luke’s account; we have not heard from Matthew’s Gospel. It is in Matthew’s telling that we feature the story of King Herod and the wise men.

As Matthew 2 states, wise men came to King Herod claiming they had observed a star and came to pay homage to the King of the Jews.

King Herod is scared, so he gathers his best leaders around him to get more info. Then in secret he tells the wise men to go and search diligently for the child.

Which is what they do, entering the holy city and seeing the child with his mother. They pay him their respects and offer their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Then they leave, going a different route.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

It is interesting to note that in every one of these stories everyone makes a journey of some kind…except King Herod.

Did you notice that? He does not move.

Herod hears the news and first he is afraid, then he gathers his leaders around him and then he sends the wise men to go and search.

What’s up with that?

King Herod, leader of Judea, most powerful man in all the land. He’s unwilling to move, unwilling to journey, unwilling to accept the fact that there may be some one, some thing grander than he.

While the rest of the Christmas characters go from here to there, he stays put; unmoving and unmovable.


What’s up with this King? What could he be so frightened of?

Here Herod is, most likely wrapped in the finest of garments with gold and rubies, sitting on a throne. And this is what he’s afraid of- a baby? A child, an infant, in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger?

Unlike everyone else, he refuses to take that journey to Bethlehem. Unlike everyone else he refuses to have anyone ask “Where have you come from and where are you going?”

So on his throne he sits, and he waits…alone.

While the skies light up with angels singing, while shepherds share what they’ve heard and the wise men follow a star, overwhelmed with joy, he stays put.

I wonder how many here tonight may feel like they can relate a bit to the King. I wonder how many here are afraid of what the news of Jesus’ birth actually means.

I wonder how many here value more the ways of the worldly kingdom than the ways of the Kingdom of God.

I wonder how many are ready for the journey- to let go of all the struggle and strife of the past year, to be willing to see and experience things in a new way.

To stop believing in lies or living in fear and to take that step of faith and cross over into the promises of our God who creates, our God who saves and our God who blesses.

Because what a wonderful journey it can be, with angels serenading us and a star leading the way!

To get off the thrones of comfort and the thrones of fear and to follow.

To step off those thrones made of prejudices and preconceived notions, abusive situations and dysfunctions.

To lose the robes of anger and jealousy, fears and falsehoods and to make that journey to be bathed in the light of a new kind of King.

To follow the star, to follow the wise men, to follow the shepherds, to follow Joseph, and to follow Mary knowing that Jesus is there in a manger and that amazing things are waiting for us.

Tonight a baby is born to free us all; tonight a baby is born to love us all.

Tonight we do not have to walk in darkness or in shadows, but we can walk in great light.

We are invited to rejoice with joy and to know that the Lord who creates, who saves and who blesses also wants to make us happy, and wants to make us whole.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

We have been invited to participate in a journey that will lead us to a child who has come in the name of peace and justice, grace and eternal love.

We can be like Herod and be scared and angry and remain where we are. Or we can be like the others and embrace the chance to make that move. We can take that chance and be transformed.

Where we are now is not where we were last year. And where we are now is not where we will be the year next.

This journey into Bethlehem, our Christmas journey, is one which we can travel with courage and conviction, with trust and faith, with dignity and the knowledge that in Jesus Christ the Lord is waiting to meet us.

Waiting to bless us with radiant light, with unending love and with sheltering shalom.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

We are ready to see the beautiful baby born in the manger; we are ready to see the face of God.

Amen and amen.

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