Date: Christmas Eve, 2017 – 9:00 pm Service
Title: “Do You See What I See?”
Preaching: The Rev. Donna M.L. Pritchard
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
In the prologue to the Gospel of John there is a Greek word skenoo, which literally means to pitch a tent. So when we read the English translation, which tells us The Word became flesh and lived among us, what that literally means is that God has pitched a tent right here, in the most unlikely of all places… with us!
I think God might want to be a little more careful when it comes to choosing a place to camp. Look around you. Do you see what I see? Turn on the radio, check your newsfeed, pay attention at all and you might wonder about God’s wisdom on tent-pitching. This world is full of rationality and political posturing. We are given to over-consumption and waste. There is hardly a campsite around without some tyrant of privilege or power staking a claim. And don’t forget the violence and the culture clashes, and the urgency of these days which feel more like perpetual endings than hopeful beginnings. Do you see what I see?
And yet, it is Christmas, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us tonight: In the child of Bethlehem, the life of the world that is to come has come into the life of the world that is.
To receive the gift of that child – to celebrate Christmas – is to live in the fullness of joy, even when every other voice calls us to live in despair. To celebrate Christmas means to love this broken world so much we want to see it made whole, and we are hope-filled and crazy enough to believe it might just happen.
Now I know it is easy to romanticize and sentimentalize the story. It is easy enough for us to say that if we had been there that first Christmas Eve, we’d have given up our rooms. We would have found the holy family something better than a cave or a stable, something softer than a manger. We would have made room for them. Really? Are you sure?
It is amazing how much room that little baby takes up. If you really are going to open the door tonight, you may have to give up that room you’ve been keeping for your anger and resentments. You may have to clean out the room where you’ve stockpiled all of your stuff. You may have to totally remodel the rooms where you’re hiding your over-full schedule, or the rooms where you hoard the clutter of your life. If you are going to find room for God tonight, you will be amazed at how much space this little baby takes up, but you will be even more amazed at how much room this Christ creates…as the life of the world that is to come comes into the life of the world that is, tonight.
William Stafford, Oregon’s poet laureate, wrote a poem he entitled “The Way It is”. He did not write this ostensibly about Christmas, or even about God. Yet it is poem which speaks to me on a night like this:
There is a thread you follow.
It goes among things that change.
But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die;
And you suffer and get old.
Nothing you can do stops time’s unfolding
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
Do you see what I see? I see that thread winding around us and within us this night. I see in that thread “Emmanuel” – God-with-us – pitching a tent smack dab in the middle of my life and my heart and my world, smack dab in the middle of yours. Don’t ever let go of that thread. Thanks be to God! Merry Christmas.