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A Life That’s Evergreen

(a sermon for January 5, 2020, the 2nd Sunday after Christmas, based on John 15:1-11)

(a podcast version of this message can be found here)

We put the task off as long as we could, wishing to linger in the quiet afterglow of the season for as long as possible, but last night we finally decided that it was time to at least begin taking down the Lowry Family Christmas Tree (2019 Edition).

As always, this is a bittersweet chore; after all, it’s always kind of sad to “put away” Christmas for another year, and yet, even as we undecorated this year’s tree the precious memories of holidays past and present continued to fill the air even as few far-reaching plans for next year were discussed.  And it was a beautiful tree, one that decorated with all our various and sundry heirlooms, helped to transform our house into a true home for the holidays. It was, in a word, perfect.

As you can imagine, the selection of a suitable tree has always been an important part of our Christmas ritual each year.  Given that as a pastor’s family we’ve lived in a number of homes over the years with different kinds of rooms and ceilings of various heights, these trees have necessarily had a variety of shapes, sizes and forms; though, if anything, we’ve followed a tradition of choosing the biggest, fullest, most beautiful yet inevitably top-heavy Christmas trees we can find; which, at times, has led to difficulties that have bordered on potential disaster!

In fact, I remember one Christmas a few years back when we had a tree so big and so heavy (it was actually more of the Griswold Family Christmas Tree that year!) that early the morning after we put it up it came crashing down to the floor, literally snapping the bolts on the Christmas tree stand in the process!  Luckily, we hadn’t yet hung any ornaments, so nothing on (or off) the tree was broken, but the incident did point up our immediate need of a bigger and better Christmas tree stand!

So, after a quick trip to Wal-Mart, I’m underneath the tree, preparing to transfer its trunk from one holder to another.  I’m loosening the eye bolts that supposedly keep the tree in place, removing the wooden stays that we always put around it just in case – like that did any good (!) – and then, while Lisa and Jake are holding the tree upright, I reach into the well of the stand itself, so I can pick up on the bottom of the trunk and lift the tree out of the holder.  That’s when I notice that, in fact, there’s still water there that I’d poured into the stand the night before–but not water, exactly, but rather a liquid substance that’s probably best described as “goo,” that thick, sticky mixture of water and pitch that even at that moment was permanently adhering itself to my hands and clothing.

Now I have to say, friends, that I hate pitch.  I really hate pitch; I hate getting it on me, and I especially hate how hard it is to wash off!  But I also have to tell you that as I finished securing our Christmas tree to its new stand (where, by the way, it remained strong and upright throughout the holiday season!), I’d found a new respect for the stuff, as well as the many and wondrous ways that nature takes care of itself.  After all, what pitch really is is a healing ointment:  whenever an evergreen is cut or one of its branches is broken, immediately those open “wounds,” if you will, start to secrete this sticky resin called pitch which seals the cut, so to preserve the life-preserving fluid and food that’s inside the tree.  That’s why, properly watered, you can keep a fresh-cut Christmas tree inside for a couple of weeks, and why this tree could survive a tumble on the Lowry’s floor: the pitch helps it stay green and moist and fragrant the whole time.  Without pitch, you see, the tree quickly dries out,  its needles will fall, its bright green turns to a dingy brown, and it becomes less a festive holiday decoration than a serious fire hazard.

And that’s a pretty amazing thing when you think about it.

It’s no coincidence then, that the evergreen is often considered a symbol of the Christian life.  The idea, as the old carol suggests, of “faithful leaves unchanging,” staying “ever” green in summer and winter does seem to evoke the on-going fruitfulness of a spiritual life.  There’s actually an obscure verse of that carol, “O Tannenbaum,” that I’ve always loved and says this very well:

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Your leaves will teach me also.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Your leaves will teach me also.
That hope and love and faithfulness
Are precious things I can possess.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Your leaves will teach me also.”

In other words, like the evergreen tree, in faith our lives are to be rich and full with the same qualities that are of God.  Moreover, we are to maintain a “greenness” about our life and living that is fresh, vital and life-enhancing, times in which we are both saturated with and sustained by joy and love.

There are times, we must admit, that these qualities of life come easy: perhaps during the holidays when we’re surrounded by family and friends; maybe on vacation and out of busy-ness of life living; or in the midst of one of those all-too-rare times when we are profoundly aware of just how blessed we are.  These are the moments, writes the Rev. David Oliver, in which “the sweet aroma of our lives is lavished on everyone.  [when] Joy is not only something we yearn for, but also something we feel… [when] prayers are said with a deeper sense of meaning and thanksgiving [and] God… seems closer and more directly accessible.”   It’s in times such as these that you and I are indeed like the evergreen; full of vitality, beauty and unchanging purpose.

Were that it was always that way, however!  Because let’s face it; we all know how quickly a life can turn from green to brown!  It happens amidst any number of severe difficulties of life that tend to blindside us with its intensity – a death in the family, the end of a relationship, an unexpected job change and on and on – or maybe it’s simply a result of the accumulated and overwhelming amount of stress that builds up in the course of daily life.  Whatever the cause, the end result is the same: we are sapped of our strength and enthusiasm and left feeling not unlike tired, worn-out evergreen boughs that have been cut off from the tree;  branches that are dry, brittle and ready for the fire.  If you’ve ever felt this way – like an old Christmas tree that’s seen better days (!) – then you also know what it’s like to feel within yourself somehow withered and lifeless, in need of deeper nourishment and healing.

But here’s the good news:  Just as the fir tree has that pitch to promote its healing and wholeness so that it can stay evergreen in the face of any and all injury and danger, so you and I are given such a gift. And while we don’t have tree sap oozing from our pores (!), what we’re given is no less healing and life giving.  It is a gift that comes to us from Jesus himself; the one who says to us, “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

What we so often and easily is that it has always been God’s intention for us to bear the fruit of the Spirit.  Each one of us is meant to be full and green, with the sap of the Spirit flowing through us that we might know true life, growing each day a bit closer to becoming all that the Lord intends for us to be, feeling the gift of healing and renewal when we’ve been hurt and wounded by the harshness of the world around us.  But the thing is that this comes about only in that connection to Christ and thus to God: as Jesus himself told his disciples and tells us, “I am the true vine, “and my Father is the vinegrower… abide in me as I abide in you.”   Abide – meaning “to remain in,” “to continue,” or “to dwell” – suggesting that the on-going health and vitality of our lives is contingent on the day to day presence of our caretaker; or, as Jesus goes on to say, “Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”  In other words, just as the fir tree needs its sap to thrive, you and I need to be rooted, grounded and well-established in Christ in order to live fully the life that God intends so to bring us fullness.  It is our faith in Jesus Christ that keeps us evergreen; without that faith to nourish us and strengthen us, one way or the other, be it the wear and tear of the world or the fear that lingers in our hearts we’ll eventually dry up and become brittle to the living of life.

It makes me think back to the tradition we had in a previous church of a yearly “Epiphany Bonfire” that was fueled by discarded Christmas trees.  Not only was it a fun time and a beautiful fire, it served as an object lesson about the danger of trees left to go dry in your home: to wit, one match and whoosh!  Every tree in that pile goes up in flame and is destroyed literally in moments!  And I’m watching this and thinking, well, there’s a parable for life itself.  If everything’s dry and brittle about your life, you will be consumed!

That’s an important truth for us to consider, friends, especially considering that it’s the first Sunday of a new year (not to mention the first Sunday of a new decade!).  Seems to me to be a good time for each one of us to think about what it means to abide in Christ, and to live as persons of faith.   The question we need to ask is, are we doing what we need to do stay evergreen?  Are we in fact staying connected to Christ who is the vine to our branches?  Who is Jesus Christ as regards our own lives: is he Savior and the Lord of all, or is he just another philosopher with a take-it-or-leave-it message?  And how does that play into life as we actually live it? How does “abiding” in Christ inform the kind of decisions we make for ourselves (and not just on the major pathways of life, either, but also on each and every intersection that we routinely cross in the course of a day), and how does that connection affect the way we treat others?  Does it lead us to make good use of the gifts we’ve been given? And does it – really and truly, now – inspire our generosity of both spirit and resources, and will it lead us to place our whole trust in God and in God’s provision for our lives and living?

How we answer such questions says much as to how we truly abide in Christ, and ultimately about the fruitfulness of our Christian faith.  Truly, the ways that faith exists at the heart of our real, live day-to-day existence are the signs of our health, vitality and freshness, yours and mine.  These are the qualities of life that even in the cold and barren days of winter (winter here in New England, yes, but also and most especially winter in the soul) will make us evergreen.

Perhaps you’re starting out the new year feeling a bit like the trees that even now are being thrown to the curb to be picked up by the city this week:  old, dry, used up, needles shedding all over the place (!) and without anything that’s useful left for whatever’s ahead.  Maybe now that all the chaos of the holidays has come to an end for another year, you’re feeling a bit at a loss as to what happens next, especially as regards your heart.  Well, if that’s the case, this is the time you need the care of the vinegrower the most; this is where you most need a connection to the vine. It’s fitting, then, that we come now to the very table where we feel that connection the strongest, in the breaking of bread and the sharing of the fruit of the vine.

It’s a promise sure and certain, and it comes from Jesus himself:  that if we abide in him, he will abide in us…

… and in the process, making our lives purposeful, powerful, joyful… and green.

Thanks be to God!

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2020  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2020 in Christmas, Faith, Jesus, Life, Sermon

 

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On the Way to the Holy Night: And in His Name All Oppression Shall Cease

(a sermon for December 29, 2019, the 1st Sunday after Christmas; last in a series, based on Isaiah 63:7-9 and Matthew 2:13-23)

And so… the baby was born.

Speaking as one who’s been there three times, I can say with some assuredness that when you’re a parent awaiting the birth of a child, especially if it’s your first, you tend to be filled with this hopeful, awe-filled and all-encompassing sense of great expectation!  That is to say, everything in your life – and I do mean everything – suddenly becomes about that coming moment when that child comes into your world.  You’re checking out potential baby names, you’re getting a nursery ready, maybe you’re taking childbirth classes, and you’re daily watching and feeling for telltale kicks from within mother’s womb.  But mostly, you wait, and over those seemingly endless weeks and months of waiting you dream: about what it’s going to be like having a baby around the house, for pete’s sake (!); about who that baby’s going to look like or “take after;” and about what she or he will grow up to become.

So much anticipation (!); and yet it can’t even begin to measure up to that ultimately indescribable moment when at last the baby is born, you’re holding it in your arms and you’re quite literally enveloped with all joy and wonder at the miracle of life.

But then, after the baby is born, something else happens… simply put, you become a parent!

You bring this child home and suddenly, your lives have become all about taking care of this living, breathing little bundle – holding it, feeding it, calming it, changing it, cleaning it – and it’s everything, and nothing like you expected it to be (I remember so well that one of the most terrifying moments of my young life up till that point was the first time I gave my first born son his bath)!  I mean, you’re still filled with wonder over this child but now it’s combined with all the concerns that go along with taking care of a newborn.  Moreover, everything that was considered normal in your life radically shifts: mealtimes, sleep patterns, any semblance of time management, and most especially your own personal list of priorities.  You somehow learn how to configure the straps of a baby car seat, you find that you never go anywhere without extra diapers and a change of clothes, and you discover that the baby’s binky/blanky/luvvy/bear is not only your child’s best friend, it’s yours as well!

Mostly, though, after the baby is born you get serious, don’t you?  You start to worry about a great many things: the sound of a cough, the changing in the rhythm of breathing, or the appearance of a rash that puts you on alert and sends you to the pediatrician in the wee hours of the morning.  You become mindful to the point to the point of obsessive about “baby-proofing” every potential danger in your home and every item that ever comes into contact with your child must first be cleaned and sterilized, often more than once.  But while you’re vigilant about everything you can fix you also become acutely aware of all the real world dangers out there you can’t control, from skinned knees and hurt feelings to childhood disease and an ever-threatening and encroaching world. Yet even then you still do everything in your power to protect your child from anything and everything they inevitably will face in life.   And you do it because it’s not about you anymore, it’s all about the baby; it’s always about the baby!  And when it’s your kid in trouble, short of becoming a raving maniac, you’ll do just about anything it takes to keep them safe from harm.

It’s a lot, to be sure, and more than a little unsettling, moving from this blissful state of expectation to an anxious and ever-heightened state of preparedness; but this is what happens, you see, after the baby is born.

Even – and most especially – when the baby is Jesus.

Actually, I would agree with David Lose who says of our gospel text for this morning that “it’s too soon… it comes too soon… [because] after all, we just celebrated Christmas.”  And truly, it was just five nights ago that we were all there at the manger with Mary and Joseph, gazing with adoration at their newborn child: the Christ child, this one for whom we’d waited and watched and prepared for so long. It was an amazing, beautiful and hope-filled night, and who could blame us for wanting to tarry there at the nativity just a little longer; perchance to stand shoulder to shoulder with shepherds, or to kneel with the magi at his cradle even as the angels’ song lingers in our ears.

But sadly, Matthew will have none of that!  For no sooner do those wise men leave “for their own country by another road” (Matthew 2:12) everything changes.  Suddenly, an evil king – threatened by this child “born king of the Jews” (2:2) – flies off into a jealous, angry, violent rage, innocent children are being slaughtered, women throughout Bethlehem are weeping after the manner of Rachel in ancient prophecy, and the holy family – Mary, Joseph and the Christ child – are forced into the role of refugees, fleeing to Egypt for their very lives.

We’ve said before that Matthew’s version of the nativity story is much more cut and dried than that of Luke, and certainly much more somber in tone. And yet, I dare say that Matthew manages to move us – quite dramatically, in fact – from the anticipation of Advent and the revelry of Christmas to the real world that the Christ Child came to save!   The baby’s been born, that is true, and it is glorious; but the world into which Jesus has been born is one filled with pain and suffering: a world where terrible things happen every day; a world of evil where palaces are often the places of corrupt power; where the righteous cower in fear and the innocents suffer… a world, when you think about it, not all that different from today. Truly, the weeping and wailing so prevalent in this morning’s scripture clashes with the songs of glory love we’ve been singing all throughout this season, but then again, even as we were gathered for our Christmas Eve rituals of worship, song and candlelight we were acutely aware that sadness and suffering was even at that moment in our world rearing its ugly head.  Evil, you see, is a hard and fast reality in a sin-filled, broken world; such was the case at the time of Jesus’ birth, and so it continues now.

For you see, to quote pastor and self-described online “homilist” Bass Mitchell, even though as indicated in this morning’s reading, Herod did die, the fact is, Herod’s spirit lives on, “still haunting every little town of Bethlehem, every city, every nation… for Herod is not just a long dead king, but represents the very real presence of evil in our world, evil that still seeks the destruction of innocents, of goodness, of light…”

“Herod,” Mitchell goes on to say, “is alive and well in the violence and crime that each year does untold harm to children… each time a child is physically and sexually abused… every time hunger and disease claim yet another innocent… Herod lives.”

One thing we need to understand about this horrific story of the slaughter of innocent children in the region around Bethlehem is that it represents a much larger story of evil and of death, and of how the seat of power in the world fights against God’s intention that peace and justice is to rule in the hearts and lives of the people.  It’s a story that’s as old as time; indeed, innocents have been dying since the dawn of history and corrupt power continues to run rampant even unto our own time.

So given that hard core reality of life, friends, how is it, then, that we can be so bold as to sing those words of the carol, “And in His name all oppression shall cease?”

Well, that, dear friends, is where the good news of the gospel enters in; this incredible good news that after the baby was born, the story didn’t end.

For what we find in this passage and throughout the gospel story is that whatever atrocities the Herods of this world might commit, God is ultimately in charge; that whatever discord and evil surrounds us in this life God does provide for our needs.  It’s all there in the story of the Holy Birth and its aftermath: in a dream, God motivated the magi not to return to Herod but depart to their own country by another route.  And it’s an angel of God who not only inspires Joseph to take Mary as his wife and raise the child as his own, but also in that moment of impending danger motivates Joseph to rise up and get them all out of town!  And even after the death of Herod, God continues to lead the family of Jesus to the place where they would be safe, to where Jesus would grow “and become strong, filled with wisdom… and the favor of God,” (Luke 2:40) eventually beginning a public ministry along the Jordan River and the Galilee seaside.  From the very beginning, you see, God had a greater purpose in mind; and not even the evil of this world could vanquish it.  Even many years later, when on a cross, it seemed as though a hurting and hurtful world had finally brought darkness back into the world and defeated all of what was ever good, even then evil could not conquer the Son God, the one whom by dying rose to new life!

God, you see, will not give up; God will not give up on the love he has for his creation, God will not give up on the world as he has envisioned it, and God will not give up on you and me.  In spite of the evil of this world and despite our own burgeoning faithlessness, friends, God is faithful.  It might involve a warning to get up and flee the danger at hand or it might be the clear directive to stand our ground; but God will always seek to guide us to exactly where we need to be, nudging us towards the places of living where we can be of the most use to God’s purpose for us and for the world.  Even as the world and its evil seeks to vanquish our spirit – even in those times when for whatever reason we let it happen – God’s not giving up.  Because with God, it’s always been about us… just like a new parent would do anything to preserve and protect and to love that new baby in her arms… that’s how God embraces us… and that infinite love begins and abides and triumphs… in Jesus.

Our readings for this morning remind us that birth, however joyful, also involves pain; that freedom costs, and that the struggle with that which is evil in our world goes on.  But we are also assured that God has promised to take care of us; that God is a God of love who shows us what love is most about, and does so in the life of Jesus Christ our Lord.  What is it that we read in Isaiah’s prophesy this morning?  “It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”  It’s that same presence that continues to carry us today.

Alas, our time at the manger is nearly at an end for another year and we go back to the world with all its uncertainty and danger.  But the good news of this Christmastide and always is that we are not left to return to “life as usual” alone, but carried and strengthened by God’s own presence in Jesus, who is truly our Emmanuel; that’s important for each of us to remember as we move forward.  In fact, I would suggest to you this morning that maybe the best thing we can do in this new year – and new decade (!) – ahead is to purposefully open our ears and our hearts to hear those heavenly words of warning and leading that might just be offered us, so that we might claim the power of Jesus Christ himself in order to overcome whatever evil and discord may surround us, and speaking both as persons and as a people, we can rejoice in the assurance that “in his name, all oppression shall cease.”

May you have a happy and blessed new year, my dear friends…

…and may our thanks be to God!

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2019  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2019 in Advent, Christmas, Jesus, Life, Sermon Series

 

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By His Cradle We Stand

(A Meditation for Christmas Eve 2019, based on Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 2:1-12)

‘Twas the day before the day before Christmas, and my wife Lisa and I were down at (our local grocery store) Market Basket stocking up on all the food and supplies we were going to need for the holiday; and as you can imagine that place, as one person aptly described it, was “a whole new level of busy!”   So busy, in fact, that at one point I actually found myself mired in an immovable grocery cart traffic jam right there between the dairy section and the deli counter!

For the most part, however, everybody was being pretty good-natured about it: there were a lot of “excuse me’s” and “so sorry’s” going around, and people were laughing about how we should each have been issued  carts with blinkers and “back-up beeps!”  Of course, there were those who were clearly stressed with the whole situation as they struggled to make their way through this morass of shoppers no matter what; and I saw one exhausted young mother who was trying in vain to verbally ride herd on five active children!  Not only that, overhead and all around there’s the unmistakable sounds of “Santa Baby, put a sable under the tree for me…” occasionally interrupted by the store manager announcing a “Christmas Special” at the front of the store!

So unable to move for the moment, I’m standing there and taking it all in, realizing that this is truly the “holiday rush” in all its glory and utter chaos; everyone lost in their own Christmas busy-ness, trying to get to their Yuletide celebrations on time and in one piece!

And that’s when I heard it.

Somewhere in all that noise and confusion, as clear as a Christmas bell, I heard the sound of a very young child… singing.

“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday, dear…”

She’s singing with joy, singing in a way like kids do, like nobody’s listening but that doesn’t matter!  Immediately I wanted to see where that song was coming from, but the moment was fleeting and by the time I even looked up the song had faded away and the child – whoever she was (!) – was gone.  I didn’t even get to hear who the song was being sung for (!) – it was just a tiny little “Happy Birthday” song bursting forth amidst all the noise.

And it occurred to me in that moment that I was in the midst of a parable… and that that crowded grocery store could just as well have been… Bethlehem.

Because on another night long, long ago, in that little backwater town the streets were filled to overflowing with visitors – government mandated visitors, actually – who’d come there to be “registered” for purposes of taxation.  Emperor Augustus had actually decreed that everyone should return to their hometowns for this registration, so every home was filled with relatives coming home and every vacancy at every “inn” in town was filled and then some.  And in keeping with the Jewish tradition of great hospitality, there were lots of family reunions and banquet celebrations going on all over Bethlehem with all the laughter and conversation and the occasional moments of drama that go along with such gatherings!  And this to say nothing of the presence of those Roman “registrars” who’d also come to town… in short, this town that was often considered to be far off the beaten path and “least among the rulers of Judah” had never seen a night as noisy, as busy or as utterly chaotic as this!

It was so busy, in fact, that hardly anyone who was there in the city that night even noticed that out behind one of the inns of Bethlehem – where there’d been “no place” for a young weary couple who had just arrived and she who was expecting a child– out behind this crowded inn, in a dark and damp stable surrounded by the likes of sheep and cows and donkeys (!), the time came for her baby to be born, and Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger,” an infant’s cradle fashioned out of what just a few moments before had been the animals’ feeding trough.

Amazing to think of it: that in amidst all of everything else that was happening that night in this “little town of Bethlehem,” a baby was born!  But not just any baby, mind you:  this baby was “a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord;” a tiny child who represented “good news of great joy for all the people” for this was the long awaited and long-expected Messiah of God’s people Israel.

This is the one whom the prophet Isaiah proclaimed would be named “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” the one on whose shoulders all authority shall rest and grow continually, the one who shall rule over a kingdom of endless peace, upheld with justice and righteousness “from this time onward and forevermore.”  This is the one that the angel Gabriel told Mary would be called the “Son of the Most High;” the child who is, as the angel described him to Joseph, Emmanuel, which means “God Is With Us.”  This is the “Word made flesh [that has] lived among us,” (John 1:14) what Paul described to the Hebrews as “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.” (Hebrews 1:3)  He is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15); He is the light of the world that enlightens all humanity; He is the bright new morning star; He is love Divine and love incarnate; He is the Messiah; the Christ of Christmas, and the Conqueror of death; He is the way and the truth and the life…

and …he’s a baby (!); this tiny helpless infant who’s just been born in a manger, of all places.

Amazing to think of it:  that on that busy night in Bethlehem, a baby – this divine child who would be named Jesus – was born… and yet, despite the fact there was a bright star shining overhead and, not far away from there, a multitude of the heavenly host was praising God and singing songs of peace on earth and good will amongst all people…

…even then (!), hardly anyone even noticed.

Oh, there were a few: the shepherds, for instance, the ones who had experienced something holy and heavenly that night, and were compelled to go and look for the sign of which they’d been told, and to see this newborn Messiah for themselves.  There were the “wise men from the East” who were seeking “the child who has been born king of the Jews” and looked to the stars to guide them to the place of his birth.  And surely there were others: perhaps the innkeeper, or the guests at the inn who had boarded their animals in the stable, or maybe the faithful few in the neighborhood who’d heard of this birth and were moved by some Spirit to check it out.

Maybe… but in truth, there weren’t many… at least at first.

Because we also know that in amidst everything else happening that night, there was something else… something that was silent and holy and divine… something almost like a song piercing through the world’s confusion, its darkness and its sin as clearly as love itself… as God himself…

…God in the guise of a child!

And this is why we’re here tonight, why in the middle of all of our celebrations we’ve come away so to visit this little manger to see what has happened and to behold this wonderful, holy child.  In the words of the hymn from which we’ve been drawing some inspiration in this season, “O Holy Night,” “Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, with glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.”

There’s so much going on all around us right now: in our own homes, with our families coming together for the holiday, among our friends and neighbors, most certainly in the world around us.  In ways personal, professional, political and ever perplexing, the world keeps on spinning and we stay busy in every sense of the word.  But tonight… on this night divine, something wonderful is happening, and we need not only to take notice but also to rejoice…

…because God has come to us and abides with us.  God is WITH us… for he is Jesus, our Emmanuel…

…and tonight, by his cradle we stand in love and adoration.

Glory to God in the highest!

And Merry Christmas, dear friends.

Amen and AMEN!

© 2019  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2019 in Christmas, Jesus, Sermon, Sermon Series

 

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