Christmas Eve 2020

A Very Blessed and Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.
I had a dear friend say to me… please don’t just retell the Christmas story…we all know it…tell me something that can give me a sense of hope in this hurting world.
That my friends is an awesome challenge, and precisely my aim for us all tonight!
So I turned to Rev. Google and his faithful companion Wikipedia and asked ‘what is Hope?’
“Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation” 
We all know this story intimately.
And we have heard sermons and homilies on it for years.
Yet my friend was 100% right… I wonder how often we have been able to take it from the cave in Bethlehem to the hearth of our homes?
It doesn’t seem like we are living in a world that is flooded with hope right now.
We are in the midst of a pandemic.
We are more distrustful of systems, political, social, religious, and economic than any of us care to remember.
Yet we gather, and we re-read, and we celebrate an event that happened over 2000 years ago to a merchant carpenter and his betrothed bride in a cave outside some tiny village in the Mediterranean.
Why? What gives?
I believe “what gives” is precisely the gift of the Incarnation of God.
Let me explain…
Other faith traditions share many similar miraculous stories of the birth of the Divine referred to by many different names.
But unique to Christianity is the fact that what we celebrate is not that God showed up as a human, or wore the facade of the human race…but rather that God became one with us… of us… Emmanuel…God with us!
And yet we live in a world dominated by dualistic minds that wants to separate the humanity and the divinity of the very one in whom we proclaim we believe we have been shown that the divide never existed!
Dualistic thinking dominates us, our world, our thinking, and even our faith journey !
We like to categorize things, organize things…black and white, pink and green, tall and short, right and wrong, as if our lives are anything even remotely like that at all! Little to nothing is clearly that defined in our lives. We live in the area of grey, we swim in mystery and we try desperately to categorize and make it work.
If that were not the truth…then Artificial Intelligence would have been mastered years and years ago!
The mystery of God in choosing to reveal God’s self through the Incarnation is that it reminds us of what the ancients told us in the text of Genesis…before the world began there was God…and from God, it was all created! Us too!
We are the stuff of God….
All of us….with our goodness and with our sinfulness We are the holy DNA of the living God in this place and in this time.
That is what we celebrate in the birth of Jesus….the glowing reminder that God is one with us and we are one with God….always have been, always will be, have never not been!
Remember Hope is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large.
I invite you to listen to some of the things Jesus said to us….some of the expected positive outcomes and promises we were reminded of through the teaching of our messiah….
You are the light of the world, a city built on a hill cannot be hidden! Mt. 5:14
Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours! Mark 11:24
(You see….even Jesus knew of the power of Manifesting in our lives!)
I call you friends for that is what you are! Jn 15:15
Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open to you. Matt 7:7
Everything is possible for the one who believes! Mark 9:23
Blessed are you…Matt 5:11
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the most high! Luke 1:76
Go make disciples of all nations! Matthew 28:19
I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them Jn 17:26
I have come that you might have life and have it most abundantly! John 10:10
You see my friends, I cannot give you Hope….that is a gift from God
The only thing any preacher can offer is to open the doors of our soul to allow each of us to see the promises God has made.
From those doors, we can either walk in and dwell for a while…basking in the mystery of our God in quiet contemplation Or shut the door, in the hope of finding another door with a mystery that excites our soul to move us beyond ourselves.
How do we take the story of the Birth of Christ in Bethlehem 2000 years ago and make it come alive today?
We only need to allow ourselves to move from our dualistic thinking to the contemplative mind of mystery and allow in that place, the God of whom we are made to enliven our weary bones.
Maybe that will happen in a simple meal.
Maybe that will happen in a Christmas hymn or song. Maybe it will happen in a broken dream or a tragedy of our lives. Maybe it will happen in a twinkling star or a fine glass of wine.
Maybe it will happen in a gift given or received.
I can’t tell you what will trigger a contemplative moment in our lives yet if we remain open…I am confident those moments will happen.
God has a way of showing up in unexpected ways at unexpected times. If you doubt I would encourage you to just ask Mary and Joseph…one never knows!
Merry Christmas my friends!