Friday, December 26, 2008
Christmas Eve Service
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galiliee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:1-7

She carries with her, peace. Not as a calming word or soothing touch, but as an infant. The hope of the world, knit in her womb and birthed in a manger. He is Lord and Savior, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel. But for Mary, in this moment there is only a mother’s joy.

Smooth skinned and warm in her arms, she marvels at his delicate features, counts his fingers and toes. She holds in her palms the feet that she has felt wriggling within her these past months. They are wrinkled with newborn skin and small enough to fit in her little hand.
These are the feet that will bring peace.

For this child, wise men will travel far only to bend their knee, to lay down gold and frankincense and myrrh. Angels with a multitude of the heavenly host will praise God, saying “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Through him, the blind will see, the lame will walk and the dead will rise. The world will change.

But for Mary, in this moment, there is only this: Her son is born.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign for you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And then suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2:8-14

The light of the world has arrived. The Messiah has come - not enrobed in heavenly garment, but wrapped in swaddling cloths. He has come without the glory of a triumphant fanfare, but arrived in the still of the night. The Savior of man has come to us, not before royal courts or thrones, but before the weary, the dirt smudged, the watchmen of the flocks.

The glory of the Lord shone not around kings, but around these men, simple as shepherds. Shepherds wise enough to fear, and wise enough to follow.

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger.

Now, when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told to them.

Luke 2:15-20

This babe in Mary’s arms will grow. And these tiny hands that curl around her fingers, will one day be opened wide, giving freely that which no other man is able. As the shepherds gather in amazement and the word of this miracle spreads, as the wise men come and kneel before her son – Mary knows that this child is not hers alone.

She carries with her, the hope of man. Not as a king or a ruler, but as an infant, knit in her womb and born in a manger.

And for us tonight, in the stillness of our hearts and in the quiet of this room, there is only this:

Unto us born this day in the city of David, a savior, and He is Christ the Lord.

Our savior is born.


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