Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20
Good evening! Merry Christmas! I am overjoyed to see all of you here tonight for this wonderful celebration of God’s gift to all of us, the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I hope you are all filled with joy tonight, too! More than that, I hope that you are fed here tonight—I hope that you are fed in body, mind, and spirit; I hope you leave this place stuffed with hope, peace, joy, and love!
On Christmas Eve, that’s an easy sell. You’re probably feeling happy already. You’ll feel even better after singing some of your favorite Christmas hymns. Even if I preach a dreadful sermon tonight, you’ll find something else in the service that gives you joy and you’ll remember that, instead of my sermon.
What’s more, we hear this same story from the Gospel of Luke every year. It begs the question, why bother? What more could I say about Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus? What can I say that hasn’t been said already?
It’s the same old story, right?
We’re living in the time between the birth of our Savior and the time of his return. Just like every Christmas since the resurrection.
It’s the same old story. Caesar Augustus has called for a census. Joseph and Mary must journey to Bethlehem to be counted. There was no room at the inn. An angel came to the shepherds in the fields to tell them of the birth of the Messiah. And the shepherds sought out the Baby Jesus and praised him. We know this story.
But it’s NOT the same old story!
Think about our hymns tonight. They tell the story in the present tense. The hymn doesn’t go, “Hark! The herald angels sang.” NO. It’s “Hark! The Herald Angels SING!” The angels sing to us; they announce that God has entered the world. They announce that there is a newborn king. The angels shout that we are reconciled to God through this new baby!
Our first hymn, “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” beckons us to come to Bethlehem and worship the Christ child. In the present tense. Come. Come and behold him. Come and adore him!
This isn’t the same old story, it’s the same NEW story! It’s new every year because we need to hear it every year. We need to know that we still matter to God so much that God does something new and amazing for us: God enters the world in the person of Jesus Christ.
God loves us that much!
God LOVES us! Present tense. And we need to know this. We need this reminder. This year and every year.
We need this reminder because our lives are filled with busyness and craziness. Our lives are filled with anxiety and uncertainty, fear and grief.
Many of us live in a state of constant anxiety over our jobs or relationships. During the holidays, we hear the commercials that scream at us to buy more stuff. We hear the fake news that buying more things will ease our worries and make everyone happy—at least until we see our credit card bills f