Christmas Meditation - Luke 2:1-20
Christmas Eve Meditation by Alex Evans, Pastor
Second Presbyterian Church, Richmond, VA
Christmas Eve – 2017
t is so very wonderful to read and to hear this story again on this night. In the darkness of this hour, in the stillness of this evening, in the sacredness of this space, THIS STORY wants to convey to our hearts and minds and lives some very important truths about God.
There is Emperor Augustus and Quirinius, the governor, . . . and the decree that all should be registered.
There is the maiden Mary and Joseph who are expecting a child.
There is the birth in the manger.
There are the shepherds in the fields, the angels singing “glory to God,” and saying “do not fear.”
There is the good news – “to you is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
This story – the action, the movement - wants to pour into our hearts and lives the very essence of the good news of God.
Here is the very Good News of this story:
First, God is WITH us.
It is easy sometimes to feel pretty sure that God is NOT with us. Certain things happen that make us think we are absolutely left on our own to find our way, that life just the way it is. We might affirm that God exists, that God made the world, . . . but then the circumstances of life make us feel that God is no where near –
- like when the loved one dies and we have to figure out life anew;
- or, the bills continue to mount and we are not sure how to get through;
- or, the doctor says the cancer is there, and our lives are going to get more complex and probably a lot shorter than we had hoped;
- or, we face perplexing decisions,
- . . . or something else.
In all these moments, and more, it can certainly feel like we are alone, . . . . and on our own.
But this Christmas story, the main message, is that God is WITH us. The Word has become flesh, the God of the Universe is actually in the world, born in a manger, whose birth is announced to shepherds. This story depictsas vividly as possible that GOD IS WITH US – in our midst, among us for real – not some distant God who might be active sometimes. No, God is one WITH us, with US!God cares about you and me and all that we are dealing with – WITH US.
God’s love covers us more than all the other things that we feel cover us up – WITH US.
What is troubling you the most tonight? Some personal worry, some deep loss, some perplexing anxiety. God is WITH you, WITH me, WITH us – and that changes everything. We are never on our own – that is the message of this story.
Second, God is FOR us.
erhaps you are living in these days with some massive guilt that slows you down, that hampers your joy.
erhaps you are dealing with circumstances of frustration and failure, maybe a broken relationship, a difficulty with forgiveness, . . . and you are having a hard time finding your way.
Maybe the Christian faith has been interpreted to you as mostly rules, and condemnation, and you feel alienated.
ere is what the angels said to the shepherds – “FOR TO YOU this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah.”
This intends to bring great joy for all the people. This intends to inject peace into our hearts and world. God is not against us. God is FOR us. The God of the universe is on our side, covering us with compassion and care, urging us to live with faith and hope, and luring us to love and serve God in the world – to make the world a better place.
hen, one more important point in this story – God is AHEAD of us.
n the overwhelming awe of light and love in the fields, the shepherds said to one another – “let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place.”
od is at work AHEAD of all of us. God is out front – and all that awaits us – in our uncertainty, in our fears, in our continuing grief, in our hopes and dreams – God is already there. We can say something similar to the shepherds – “let us go and see this thing that has happened.” Let us go into the future, no matter what awaits us, knowing that God holds the future. Let us go forward knowing that God is already there – to be WITH us and to be FOR us. That changes everything – whether it is a new life in marriage, or a new season without a partner, or a new baby to be born, or a new loss in your life, or a new job or even the loss of a job, or a new tax plan or some other unknown, – God is AHEAD of us.
Whether it is chemo treatments, or a move in an unexpected direction – God is AHEAD of us. There is NO WHERE we can go that does not include God’s love, presence, and care. As the psalmist affirms (Ps. 139), if we go to the ends of the earth, you are there, God. If we go to the highest mountain, or to the deepest parts of the sea, you are there, God. God is always moving out AHEAD of us.
Friends, this is the message of Christmas: we have a WITH US God; we have a FOR US God; and we have an AHEAD of US God.
And so what this means is that we live a certain way.
We live open to God’s presence and care always.
We live shaped by God’s love so that we can love and serve others.
We live with confidence and grace – no matter what happens – toward the hopeful reign of God that promises to cover us and cover the earth.
We live striving always to see God’s presence, to sense God’s care, and to serve God – working for the justice and joy that God intends everywhere.
We live giving our lives away – in loving service, in kindness and delight – for the coming reign of God.
May we be covered with the good news of God’s love this Christmas. And may we live with faith, hope, and love – the greatest of these is love. AMEN
Prayer of Commitment – Move in our midst, O God, with your power and presence. You are WITH us; you are FOR us; you are ahead of us. We seek to serve your great purposes following Jesus – Light of the world.
Alex Evans, Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church, Richmond, VA offered this Meditation at the Christmas Eve Communion Service, December 24, 2017. This is a rough manuscript.