This story will never get old.
It never loses it’s power. It’s beauty.
No matter how many times we hear this tale it will never fail to shimmer, to glow with radiant light.
The truth is the story doesn’t change. Each year, the same angels make the same announcements. The same shepherds journey down from the hillsides into the same sleepy town, to meet the same child in the same manger.
The same kings see the same star, and follow the same road, to the same place, where Jesus lay with is mother.
And as for our part, we remember this Holy Night with a service that doesn’t change much year to year, same candles, same Carols…
But we are not here because we forgot the story.
Nor do we gather for the easy comfort of a familiar service.
We gather on Christmas each year to tell the story, the same way because Christmas is not just a faint memory of something that happened long ago.
It is a story about what God is doing now. Even this very night.
Christmas is not the anniversary of a great historical event.
It is a yearly witness to God’s ongoing presence in the world.
This night is our reminder, that God’s love for us is so great, so powerful, so edgeless, that nothing, nothing not even the glory of immortality, was too much to give up in order to come into this world and live as one of us.
That is true now. Even tonight.
This night is our witness that when God steps into the world, it happens in surprising places. Unexpected places. Through the lives of the poor and the outcast. The over-looked and cast aside.
And that is happening now. Even tonight.
This night proclaims that the presence of God in the world comes to kings and peasants alike.
This night humbles us with a reminder that barn animals are the very first witnesses to God’s redemption of the world.
This night is our reminder that God’s activity in the world makes the most powerful tyrants tremble in their throne, because the simple power of love will prevail against their might no matter how many times it must.
So with all that going on. With God doing all that. Tonight. And every moment of our lives.
The call of this story is not to reminisce about Holy Night long ago.
It is to find your place in God’s story which is unfolding this Holy Night.
Has a star arrived on the horizon of your life, beaconing you in a direction you never dreamed you would travel? Could you join the journey of the magi and learn that true wisdom sometimes means doing something as foolish as following a star across the wilderness?
And what if at the end of your journey you met something as unexpected as a holy king in the body of poor infant.
Could you kneel and witness the work of God?
Has a voice whispered that you, yes you, have a part to play in the healing of world? Can you summon the courage of Mary to say “here am I, the servant of the Lord?”
Have you been as disappointed as Joseph, wondering what people will ever think of you if they find out your family secrets? Can you find the peace to rest in the mess and trust God’s unfolding work usually makes us pretty uncomfortable?
That is the call of Christmas.
To walk out into the world, and see it as the very world that God is coming to make anew. To expect angel songs. To welcome the gifts that come to us from people who are nothing like us.
To know in your bones that God is here. Here with us. In the midst of it all.
The call of Christmas is to lift the small light of our candles into the darkest night, illuminating the world with the joining of our light. To sing, not of a Holy night long ago, but to sing of this Holy night.
The presence of God in this world. In this moment.
And to know. To remember. To feel. That that light is love. That light is peace.
That light will not leave the world unchanged.
That light will breaks forth for us and for all people.
Across the ages. And throughout the world.
Not just long ago but now.
Not just for kings and shepherds, but for you and me.
A light, for all people.