Christmas Eve 2016

Sermon Title: CHRISTMAS EVE SERMON 2016
Date: 24th December 2014
Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers
Church Calendar Date: Christmas Eve
Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14

“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright”.  This carol, Silent night, is one of my favourites…I think I love all the carols!

When we gather on this night, hopefully we do look up at the sky. If it’s a clear night we see stars and the moon, and it takes us off to another realm if you like, of realising how small we are and how big our world, our universe is!

I love the night sky.  It does give me a sense of deep connectedness with all of creation and with the creator.

When people talk of God they often look up or point up to the sky or heaven!  There is a sense of something ‘other’ than what we see, hear, touch and smell here on earth and in our particular corner of our world. God is ‘above’ and yet very much part of our lives and I think it’s in acknowledging God in heaven that helps us connects our experience to the spiritual. What we often forget which Teilhard de Chardin is often quoted to say is that: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Keep looking up at the sky! The heavens!

“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright”.

On the night that Jesus was born, I am sure it was not all calm or silent. Having had to travel distances to go to Bethlehem, feeling tired and stressed trying to find somewhere to stay for the night and with a very pregnant Mary about to give birth!

We understand to some extent, what those in other countries are going through as we gather here tonight.  Those who are trying to leave their home countries in bus convoys so they and their families are safe, and no doubt women giving birth in the most appalling conditions.  My heart weeps for them.  I feel most grateful to live in such a safe country here in Australia. This is the reality of our world.  Some of us are safe and loved and some of us are not.

“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.”

This special night is for everyone.

It is a time to remember the gift his coming among is all about.  What was the reason he came? To bring good news for all people!  To show that we can bring peace and healing to people’s lives, that we can show radical love by not excluding anyone but to live in such a way to be Christlike.

This of course is easier said than done. We have our prejudices, our experiences that may have made us fearful of some cultures and religions. Most of the time it is probably due to ignorance on our part!  Many of our hearts are open to people of other faiths like those in Aleppo because of their horrendous situation and we pray for them and give through organisations who are there to help them in their immediate need.

I believe, Jesus is saying to us to look inside yourself. Be more accepting of your own foibles and love yourself and then your hearts will expand and we will have a more generous spirit.

“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.”

Look up! Look up to the top of the Christmas tree! What do you see? Yes a star!

We only see stars if we look up!

When we look up we see more than what’s just in front of us at the moment. I tend to automatically take a deep breath when I look up to the sky…there is something holy and calm about a starry night. And we certainly know about stars when we leave cities of bright lights!

It was a star that guided the wise men to Bethlehem and on “entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother; they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11.

The verses of Silent Night talk about the shepherd’s quaking at the sight of the heavenly hosts singing Alleluia! Christ the Saviour is born.  And about the wondrous star, lending its light and with the angels we sing Alleluia! Christ our saviour is born!

The shepherds, by looking up, saw and heard the heavenly hosts, the band of angels singing!  Angels, these heavenly beings that are around us and yet are part of that other realm, they are here to point us in the direction of love.

The most common, first words the angels say are: ‘Do not be afraid; …this was said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. For see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people’; to Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.”

Do angels exist?  I believe so.  Though I can’t explain or tell you for sure, because so much of life is mystery and there is so much more to learn about those things unseen.  Although if you were at the Kindergarten Christmas service or the Christingle service earlier, you would have seen ‘angel Susanne’ fluffing around!

I believe in Christmas.  I believe in the Christ child born for all people to help us live differently. To live fully, joyfully, compassionately.  To live lives that are open to wonder and delight! To weep with those who weep.

Angels, stars in the night, are part of the symbols of Christmas. We need them at Christmas and every day of our lives.

On this night, I invite you to keep looking up, every now and then. We have to look down here at what’s in front of us…our work, our homes, our relationships, our world of joy and deep heartache. But also to look up to the heavens, to know that there is more than what we know. That there is mystery and wonder as there is in the birth of every baby… in each of our lives!

We can make a difference by the way we live our lives with peace and with love.

I’m so glad we celebrate Christmas, acknowledging the birth of Jesus who came among us to teach us new ways of being human together.

 

The Lord be with you.