“A Time to Ponder”
December 24, 2002
Our beautiful sanctuary is aglow tonight, lit by the divine fire that burns within all of our hearts, within all of our souls. We come here tonight, some from far off places, some from far off lands, for we too want to see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears, know within our own hearts and minds, the precious gift we have been given, the gift of the one who has been born to us, born for us, the one who is the incarnate Word of God, the one who is Emmanuel, the one who is God with us. We come to remember again the story of the birth of our Lord Jesus.
We come not out of obligation, but out of necessity, because each one of us here tonight knows that we need to be here. We long to be here, even if just for a little while, even if just for tonight, because we need to be together, together with our true family, with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, because the one who was born as a baby in a manger is the one who taught us that what really matters, what truly matters in life is our interconnectedness, our relationships with each other, our love for each other. And so, we come.
We come because we too have heard the good news of great joy,
“to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior,
who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
We come, because we too want to shout out with the multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
Glory to God in the highest,
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those whom God favors!”
We come excited, excited by what we have heard, excited by God's promises fulfilled, excited by the miracle that has taken place. And we too want to go proclaim to the world the good news we have heard, the good news that has changed our lives forever, the good news that has given us a hope in something much greater than ourselves, a peace we cannot find in anything else, a joy that knows no bounds, and a love so powerful that it cannot ever be broken.
We too want to praise God and celebrate the birth of the one who is the way and the truth and the life, the one who is the true bread from heaven, the one who lived and died and was raised again, the one who is our Lord and Savior. And so, we come.
We come to take time to ponder, to ponder the mystery that has taken place, the mystery we will never fully comprehend, will never fully understand, will never fully grasp, the mystery that the one born in the city of David, born to Mary and Joseph, born in a manger, is the image of the invisible God, the perfect and loving expression of God’s will, true God from true God, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. And so, we come.
We come to encounter, to encounter the power of the eternal one at work in the world, at work around us, at work in us. We come to catch a glimpse of the divine in this baby. We come to see God.
But we know that we cannot stay here forever, here in this place, here where space and time has been suspended, if only for moment. Like the shepherds, we too will move on, we too will return to another time, to another place, to the countryside, to the city, to the world. So what then?
When we walk out of these doors tonight, will this time be just another event, just another experience to check off our list? When the sun rises tomorrow morning, will this time of ponder become only a fleeting memory, forgotten, lost among tomorrow's activities? So what then?
Maybe the story of Jesus birth has become too familiar to us, too common place, just one more scripture passage, one more story among a long list of Biblical stories, one more monument that at one time caught our attention, but now doesn’t even turn our heads, one more piece of history of which we can now say, "I've been there, I've done that"? So what then?
Or will this time be different for us, will this story be different for us after tonight? Will this story of Jesus' birth become our own story? Will we be able to so embody this story in our lives of faith that this story actually becomes our story, the story of our own beginning, the beginning of our own spiritual rebirth, our own spiritual journey of faith? Will we leave here tonight renewed and transformed by this story, by the eternal, by the divine, we have encountered here?
Will our encounter with God be enough to change us, to move us, to empower us to live in a new and radical way, a way governed by the truth of the Gospel, a way directed toward the will of the one who came to us in the incarnate Christ? Will our encounter with God here tonight be enough to leave us to wonder, ponder, and treasure the amazing good news that we have heard, the good news that we know, the good news that the one born to us is the one and true living God?
Will we take time to ponder that the one who came into the world as a baby and brought light to a world of darkness, is the same one who died as a man so that the world might be saved through him, is the same one who was raised from the dead three days later, so that we might have life eternal, is the same one who will come again at the end of time and establish his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, is the same one who is, even now, called Wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Lord, and Prince of Peace?
After all isn't that why we are here, isn’t that why we have come, because we know that an encounter with the living God in Jesus Christ, not only has the power to change lives, but it also has the power to change the world? And so, we come.
We come to worship God, we come to eat at the Lord’s table, we come to celebrate all that God has done for us, all that God has given us, all that God has sacrificed for us. And as we leave here tonight, let us, like Mary, find a time to ponder, a time to wonder, a time to treasure in our own hearts the good news of great joy that we celebrate tonight,
for to us is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is the Messiah, who is Christ the Lord.
Glory to God in the highest…
GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHTEST!
In the powerful name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May all glory and honor be to our God forever and ever. Amen and Amen.