Luke 2: 1-20
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the guest room.
Now in that same region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.
Today is a Sunday like no other in the Church year. Not just because we are gathered in the sanctuary in pajamas, but because we are celebrating God’s being with us. All of history has been the story of God getting closer to the people of Earth. From the moment we left Eden, Heaven has sought a reunion with Earth. Cain and Abel knew God well, but Cain’s violence separated them. The world continued to learn violence until a flood seemed the only way to cleanse the world of its blood-guilt. This did nothing to stop human evil. God shifted the plan, stopped the work of eradication and began the work of rehabilitation. Through Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, and beyond – God was determined to reform humanity and bring Heaven to Earth.
The ultimate show of commitment to this goal was achieved on a day we do not know the anniversary of, but that changed creation forever. God, eternal and unchanging, sent out part of Godself – the eternal trinity was added to for the first time. Human flesh coated the Word of God, and a small child carried the Spirit through which all things were made. In a manger, stinking of animals and unfit for something as delicate and dangerous as childbirth, the God of Heaven entered a human existence that would never be taken away. Now Heaven and Earth were fused for all time, God and humanity, linked in God’s very own skin.
Today we celebrate the unity of Heaven and Earth. Today we sing songs testifying to the glory of God. Today we testify that God is with us. Though we do not see Christ face to face today, we see him in the love we share here together. We see Christ in those who we serve in this holiday season. We see Christ in the lights that surround us, and the table which is set before us. Today, we testify that Christ is here, that God is with us, and that the love of God is such that we are never alone. We testify to God’s love this way with every blessing we offer today. – Amen.