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On the Eve of Christmas Eve
January 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

Grace and peace to you from the Triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God this day.

We come to this moment of anticipation. We sit here ready to …. ready to celebrate the birth of Christ, ready to open presents, ready to see the joy on the face of the children, ready to … so many things.

And yet this moment is so very important. We could easily miss this moment as we wait for the next, as we anticipate what is coming, as we are wrapped up in what will happen. And so I want to encourage you to take this day, this eve of the Christmas Eve, to pause, to think about what is happening now.

Consider our text from Jeremiah. We know there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. We know that there are problems in the world. We known that not all is going the way we and others might hope. We look at our Government, who can't seem to understand the word compromise. There is no give and take only the wailing of children who talk about not getting what they want.

And we are far from alone in this problem. Look at Britain and Europe and the whole question of Brexit. We are not alone in the inability to see a way forward. We are not alone in the inability to see the value of a compromise. We are not alone in listening to those complaining like a little child that they are not getting the toy they asked for. No, this is a condition of the world and yet I want to read to you again from Jeremiah, “A voice is hear in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children and refuses to be comforted.” When we look at the world around us there is not hope. When we look to the world to provide the solutions, we don't find them. When we look out there, as we pause, we see much pain and suffering with no answer. And we need to pause and not be so wrapped up in the anticipation that we ignore the suffering in the world around us. We need to be aware of the dysfunction. We need to be aware of all that goes wrong. Because that makes the victory all the sweeter.

I encouraged you to pause in this moment and I am doing that so that you can come to see the world for what it is. Come to see the fallen state of the world. Learn the wailing and gnashing of teeth that is a part of our time. Then know that this has been true since the time of Jeremiah and much before. The wailing and gnashing of teeth is not new, it grows, it shrinks but is does not end, because the world is all wrapped up in itself and not looking to where a real solution might be.

We also read in Jeremiah that the one who “scattered Israel will gather them and will keep them as a shepherd does a flock.” And then they will rejoice and be merry. We know the answer to the problem. We know that the joy of this season is not because all is right with the world but because all this has been redeemed. We know the “Reason for the Season.” We continue to celebrate the Savior of the World, Emmanuel, God with Us, the birth of the Christ Child, the only real way that the problems of the world will be solved.

So, I invited you to pause and consider the problems of this world, the problems of this time, the negatives that are very real, because you know the solution and thus this consideration should only make your celebration all that much sweeter. I am not suggesting that you join in the loud wailing and lamentation of our time only that you come into the celebration with a clear head, because your joy will be all that much more, when you think of the birth of the Savior when you realize how much is being redeemed. Your joy will be that much fuller when it is held in the face of the challenge. Your joy will only get sweeter for understanding what is our reality both worldly and with Christ.

And thus I want to read to you Psalm 23 but a modern translation as I think it expresses why we can look at all of this and still have joy, still celebrate and in fact must celebrate even as others lament and weep.

Jesus is my shepherd;
     I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
     he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
     bringing honor to God's name.
4 Even when I walk
     through the darkest place,
I will not be afraid,
     for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
     protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
     in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
     My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me

                                                                        all the days of my life,
     and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

 

And so we will go forth from here this morning back into the world that has already started into Christmas, because it is a distraction from the problems. But we don't need it as a distraction, we need it because it is about the birth of the Messiah. We read the story of how the birth took place because we see the miracles in that story and it gives us hope, real hope, because we know how the story ends. We can have the worst day and yet still have joy in our hearts, know the answer that comes. We can be like Joseph and when things are not as we think they ought to be, listen to God tell us that the outcome is not going to be what we expect and so we return to our life and keep going. We happily keep on the path that God has laid out for us even when that does not make sense to the world around us and we do it with the joy and happiness rooted in knowing the answer.

Jesus is coming, Emmanuel is nearly here, this moment is pregnant with the possibility and so I want to encourage you to pause and consider the world, not because I want you to join in the wailing or get depressed by the challenges, or be like those who see no solution but instead because you know the solution. I invite you to pause and take stock because it will make this moment all the sweeter. I invite you to pause and take stock because it will make the joy all the more real. I invite you to pause and take stock because we know the answer to the question, we know that our Messiah has come and will return and that is why we celebrate these days.

Take that deep breath the world might miss. It is the eve of Christmas Eve, that liminal moment before it is actually here, take this moment and use it to make your celebration, your joy, and your happiness all the more real and all the more sweet. Amen.