Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Sermon - "Good tidings of great joy!" - The Rev. Peter M. Carey



Christmas Day Sermon
The Rev. Peter M. Carey
25 December 2011
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, VA

Advent reminds us that much of our life is lived in expectation and preparation.  We learn in school, we practice our musical instruments, we don our running gear and hit the roads, we read parenting books, we go to the gym, we make home improvements.  Advent reminds us that much of our life is lived in expectation and preparation.  But, Advent reminds us that we are awaiting Jesus bursting forth in our lives.  We await Jesus, and hope for the “peace which passes all understanding,” in our own lives, and in the life of the world. 

Our life is lived in expectation and preparation.   As a child, my brother and I would wait with great expectation for my grandparents to arrive on Christmas Eve.  Usually looking out the large window in our family room, seeing when their red car would come around the corner, carrying 20 varieties of cookies, wrapped presents, and all the makings for a Swedish Smorgasbord Christmas … Swedish meatballs, rice pudding (not my favorite).  We would wait, until finally, they would arrive, and this would kick off the celebration of Christmas, with all its joy and magic. 

Today, we recognize the arrival of God in our midst!  God has become incarnate in the baby Jesus! We rejoice!  We celebrate the glory that is God’s presence with us.  Today, and always! We recognize that the gift has been given.  We have received what we hoped for, and so much more.  The gift of God’s presence is the great present for us.  Jesus was born, but is born anew in us always. 

The familiar words of Luke’s gospel ring true for us this year and this day, and so it came to passall went to their own towns to be registered…He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child….she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn… “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy which shall be to all people, for to you is born in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

The story is familiar, but we still need to hear it, year after year.  On this day, we celebrate Jesus ‘s birth; the Gift of God’s presence in our lives. 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace, good will to all!”

Much of our lives is lived in expectation and preparation.  Much of our lives is lived in a half-awake existence, perhaps not even fully recognizing the gifts that are all around us.  Much like Ebenezer Scrooge, we don’t always recognize the gift of God’s presence in our very lives, in our very ordinary lives.  On this day, we celebrate the coming of God into our lives, we celebrate the unpacking of the presents from the overstuffed grandparents’ car, we celebrate the coming of dawn after the three ghosts of Christmas have visited.  On this day, we celebrate the wondrous gift that has been given, once, and always.  So, go to the tree and open the gift of Christmas present.  It is for you, and for me, and for the world.

“I am bringing you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people!”

Rejoice!

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