Christmas Eve Service 2020
December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve Service 2020

Preacher:
Passage: Luke 1:1-2:20; Matthew 1:18-2:23

Christmas Eve 2020
December 24, 2020
Rev. Fritz Nelson

Text: Luke 1:1-2:20; Matthew 1:18-2:23

All during Advent we sing a fun little song by gospel and soul music superstar Andrae Crouch called Soon and Very Soon.  You’ll recognize it.  It goes like this:

Soon and very soon we’re going to see the King
Soon and very soon we’re going to see the King
Soo and very soon we’re going to see the King
Alleluia, Alleluia, we’re going to see the King

Recently I came across a video of Andrae Crouch performing Soon and Very Soon live and was astounded to learn about a whole other section to the song – a bridge, almost as long as the song itself, between the third and fourth verse.  It goes something like this:

Should there be any rivers we must cross
Should there be any mountains we must climb
God will supply all the strength that we need
Give us grace ‘till we reach the other side

 Suddenly a song I’d long thought of as a “Jesus pops into our world and changes everything” song became a song about a journey.  A hard journey.  A long journey.

The song goes on:

We have come from every nation
God knows each of us by name
Jesus took his blood and he washed our sins
And he washed them away

 A collective journey.  A deeply personal journey.  The same river can be easy to cross for some but drown others.  The same mountain may appear as a pleasant hike to one and Everest to another.  Together we take our different paths, praying for the strength we need to get through each day, supported by a God who knows each of us by name.

After nine months of COVID we find ourselves in the stable.  Mary is cradling her newborn.  Joseph is outside, talking with the shepherd about what they’ve seen and heard.  The angels hoover overhead.  We’re exhausted.  Its been a long journey – and not all of us have made it.  There’s been loss every step of the way.  Grief, fear, anxiety have been constant companions.  We’ve made it to the stable but we’re still not where we want to be.  The journey isn’t over.  But we pause here.  A stop along the way.  A place of hope.  A spark of joy.

Mary cradles her newborn.  Nine months ago the angel brought frightening news.  “You, Mary,” he said, “will become pregnant with a baby whose father will not by your fiancé.”  Hard news in any age.  News causing her to journey to exile with a distant relative to escape the wrath of a family, a community.  But the baby leaped in her womb.  The Spirit gave her a song of joy.  The angel explained everything to her husband, reconciling him to raise a child not his own.

The angels show up in the fields with the shepherds offering them testimony, good news they relay to the exhausted mother.  The angel warns them of danger from a threatened vengeful government.  The angel goes with them, clearing the way as their journey continues to refuge in Egypt, and then finally guiding them back to Nazareth.  A journey of years.  Weary years.  Disruptive years.  Sometimes scary years.  Known to God by name.  Receiving strength never before experienced. Crossing rivers.  Climbing mountains.  The stable one stop among many, a way station during a long difficult journey.

After nine months we find ourselves in the stable.  Here, in this stable, shepherds, wise men knelt, finding rest in the mere presence of this special child.  They left differently than they arrived.  Even then he invited those around him to replace their burdens with divine strength.  Take my yoke upon you, he would say later, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.  From the stable we journey on.  Joy wonder, hope, peace displacing fear and anxiety.

So this Christmas let the stable be your way station.  Let rest be Christ’s gift to you.  Light a candle on your table to cut through the darkness.  Lift up prayers for those you love and those you’ve lost.  Watch for the angels who are coming to guide you upon the journey.  For God knows each of us by name.  The child in the manger will take his blood and wash our sins away.  We will each make it – experience life again – to the other side.

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the king
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the king
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the king
Halleluiah, halleluiah, we’re going to see the king

Amen

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