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Christmas Eve
January 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

Good Evening, Grace and Peace to you from God our Creator, our Redeemer and our Sustainer. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

There are icon phrases from a number of sources that help us at Christmas. Consider ...

All through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.

The Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through.

“Ghost of the Future, I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart.”

and a little later

 ‘’I don’t know what to do! I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends

Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.

 

What are the themes that are important to you as we welcome the birth of the Christ child?

What are the tidings of great joy that the angels have brought to you or through you?

What are the things that make Christmas for you?

I was born in a northern climate and so long associated snow with Christmas and in fact European and Northern culture and reality have so influenced our vision of Christmas. Every where I go whether in the tropics or in the Southern Hemisphere and even as far south as Australia where it is currently summer or in the northern parts of the northern hemisphere, snow is a part of the Christmas mythology. Santa in all his winter gear and with a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer is definitely a northern reality. Evergreens decorated for Christmas is also a northern thing. Maybe it has to do with the European cultural influence and maybe it continues to have sway because the purity of fresh fallen snow mirrors something we believe about Christmas? Maybe we see the purity of the snow and we think of the purity of our hearts when washed by Jesus? Maybe we see the purity of fresh snow and it reminds us of how we ought to be? And maybe it reminds us of the purity of heart and the purity of joy we see in the little children at Christmas, filled with wonder, joy and love as they are.

And then there is the question of children at Christmas. Having children around seems for many to be a part of the joy of the season. Making sure that children get enough to have the merriment we think appropriate for the season seems to be part and parcel for many of us. There is the counter and that is the sadness I hear from parents who no longer have their children around. Thus we know that children in all their innocence and love help us to know the Christmas spirit.

There is something magical in the gift giving. Yes it is magical to receive gifts during this season but there is something more magical about the giving of gifts and double so if those gifts are given to the children around us. Just consider how many of us that no longer have children at home find some child to whom we can give a gift, even if a small gift.

Speaking of gifts that are received. How magical is it when we receive a gift that shows genuine thought and effort on the part of the giver. How magical when the gift is home made and thus we know that there is a little piece of the giver in that gift. How magical when the gift is something that shows us how it is that the other person sees us and knows us. Consider that last year my child gave me hand sanitizer that smelled like what she remembers me smelling like when she was a young child.

The quotes from movies and books move forward through time and remain because they ring true in our heads. We all know that person who is like scrooge and mostly we seem to wish that they would come to find happiness, and generosity in this season like some many of us already have. In the book about scrooge there is that line that mirrors this when his nephew speaks of how sorry he is for Scrooge that he does not get to participate in the joy and merriment. We seem to genuinely want that joy and merriment for all people in this season.

Then there is the line from the book about Grinches heart growing three sizes, which also mirrors our desire for people to understand what we already understand, as we celebrate the coming of the Christ child into the world.  And then there are the quotes like “no one with friends is a failure” that point to the communal nature of this holiday but also point to the communal nature of Christ.

So, we have love, we have generosity, we have community, we have children, we have joy and then there is the magic. We have Santa Claus, we have lines like “sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.” These express the mystery that comes along with Christmas. How does Santa make it around the world. How did Jesus born as this small infant, dependent on Mom and Dad for everything, become that which would save the world. How come God wants a relationship with me, even when I am not doing well. So many questions and the deeper we get into understanding God the better we come to understand God, the deeper we go into Christmas the more we understand about the meaning of Christmas, and yet the deeper we go the more we find that we must just leave some of it to mystery. There are things that our finite mind can not understand about the infinite God. And what a great way to celebrate that it is ok to leave some things to mystery, especially in this age of science and instant answers to almost any question with the phone in your pocket. That's right, it is OK that there is mystery left in the world, it allows us to have new understandings to pursue, it allows us to continue to experience awe, it allows us to continue to have new journeys.

And yet there are somethings about God that are not a mystery. I got a Christmas card this year that quoted St Therese and said “A God who became so small could only be Mercy and Love.” That God is Mercy and Love is not one of the mysteries, the mystery might be, why God chooses Mercy and Love, but how good is that. I accept that God is Mercy and Love in spite of my not understanding and that is good. I believe this Mercy and Love is what brings us to the generosity and joy we see in this season.

And so I will close with this prayer, that you get to fully experience the love, the generosity, the community, the children, the joy and the mercy of God this Christmas season and that this experience might continue to echo through the rest of your year and that you may show others Love, Generosity, and Mercy, throughout the year, but especially to the Children. Amen.