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Based on the Scripture readings:
Luke 2:1-20

2009 December 24
Christmas Eve
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth F. Baily, Senior Pastor

Pushing Christmas

I don't know just what happened to you this past weekend, but in churches along the Eastern Seaboard we had serious scheduling challenges. We had nearly a foot of snow arriving right at worship time on Sunday.

So one church I know delayed their Christmas Pageant until well into the New Year. Another one re-scheduled a big meal. We held a small worship service here but (sadly) suspended singing the Messiah.

All over, many Advent and Christmas activities got pushed into the New Year.

Now that it is Christmas Eve, I'd like to ponder New Years, for a moment. And frankly not just any New Year at first but the one that took place a decade ago, when we turned over the calendar from 1999 to a fresh millennium in 2000. I'd like to ponder what was happening ten years ago to see what we discern about our current Christmas experience and the time ahead.

Do you remember New Year's Eve 1999? Do you remember where you were? I was in Maine. It was cold. And it was also bitter, because for months prior to that night, you and I had been subjected to predictions that on a rolling, global scale there was a decent chance that lights would go out, computers would shut down, aircraft would be unguided, and food sources would suffer injury. The Millennium Bug was feared to wreak havoc on our globe, and many, many otherwise circumspect and civil people were hoarding water, batteries, and Dinty Moore dinners in their basements. Folks went off to the hills in Montana and probably even Wellesley Hills, concerned for their condition. Apocalyptic -- usually a Biblical word -- became a lifestyle around Christmas 1999.

And then, as you'll remember, nothing happened.

And then, as we know, something did.

Instead of an instantaneous event, there was a rolling Millennial Bug. For between the years Back to top 1999 and 2009 many predictions came to pass, not in a minute but across a decade.

Has anyone here not lost a computer since 1999? Did everyone here remember to back up your hard drive regularly, or like me have you lost family pictures and tax records at least once? Does anyone here drink tap water, always? Have we forgotten all the armed conflicts of the decade or overlooked those who hoard weapons and use them, even domestically? I was stuck in traffic during the Canadian/ American Blackout of 2003. It was big -- 55 million affected. At different times I've avoided spinach, hamburger, tomatoes, SARS, swine flu, and more due to reported dangers. It seems that the Millennium Bug came to pass, little by little.

Christmas is like that, too.

Many of us think it will happen in a flash, and we gather our material ornaments around us, and we focus all of our joy or as the hymn says, the hopes and fears of all the years, in one hour, one night, one event. Which is not entirely wrong. But it's not entire, either. Christmas begins here, but if it doesn't spread out, if it doesn't slide into the New Year to all the needs of all the globe, it isn't God's Christmas but something else.

  • Isaiah said that the child to be born was Prince of Peace. 
  • At His birth, Luke said Jesus would guide our feet in the way of peace. 
  • Micah said that David's successor would be a Bethlehemite. 
  • Luke says Jesus was there briefly but moved elsewhere to grow up and to minister. 
  • The shepherds saw a light in the heavens, and filled with both fear and awe they thought that was their God. 
  • But the angels said the heavens were not the place to find the true sign, indeed they literally said that the sign was on the earth: a babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, in a feeding trough, as if the symbol could be any more obvious to those who tended sheep.

This birth takes time. This birth takes movement. This birth is in our midst and our future.

I bet you've heard the story of Jesus' birth a score of times or more. But notice again this one simple fact: it takes one half of one verse to proclaim that Jesus is born. The other nineteen and a half verses of this same story are all about how we react, what we do next, and what it takes for His birth to push into our history.

Christmas is New Years for Christians. It is the fresh start of hope. It is delivery on a promise. It is the sort of peace that means wholeness, so everyone must be invited. And it is not contained in the Back to top heavens, because heaven itself looks to earth this night to see God alive.

In church this past week, something bigger than us, more powerful than us made us change our plans. So we moved pageant, meal, and Messiah from where we thought they should be. Something bigger than us, more powerful than us pushed them into our future. Which is, frankly, where God said they would be all along.

So delight in this evening, this day, this gift. Rejoice that it is finally here. Surround yourself with holy light, as an angel chorus. But don't leave Christmas here tonight. It is just beginning. And all its promises will come to pass. Amen.

Copyright © 2009 Kenneth F. Baily.  Used by permission.

Parent page ] Sermon "Sacred Vessels" ] Sermon "No System to Save" ] Sermon "Entitled to be Thankful" ] Sermon "Welcome Food" ] Sermon "Waking Devotion" ] Sermon "Sitting at the Welcome Table" ] Sermon "Table Manners" ] Sermon "Speaking of God" ] Sermon "Singing New Songs" ] Sermon "Prepare the Way" ] Sermon "Here-ing God" ] Sermon "The Possibility of Possibility" ] Sermon "Sweet Creations" ] Sermon "Not at All Dead" ] Sermon "Planning, Praising and Pondering Palms" ] Sermon "March for Life" ] Sermon "Imagination, Dreams, and Vision" ] Sermon "Following the Magi" ] [ Sermon "Pushing Christmas" ] Sermon "Forecasts" ] Sermon "Ready for Christmas" ] Sermon "God in the Middle" ] Sermon "The Days to Come, the One to Come" ] Sermon "Earthly Healing" ] Sermon "Digesting Communion" ] Sermon "The Change of Prayer" ] Sermon "Unbreakable Body" ] Sermon "Seeing Clearly" ] Sermon "Right for Present" ] Sermon "A Change Agent" ] Sermon "What is Sabbath" ] Sermon "In Memory of Hope" ] Sermon "These Baptisms are Killing Us" ] Sermon "Wanting Prayer" ] Sermon "Last Minute Gifts" ] Sermon "Praying Well = Praying Much" ] Sermon "Peace Repent, Peace Remember" ] Sermon "Choosing Church" ] Sermon "A Model Church" ] Sermon "The Empire Struck Back" ] Sermon "Love is Patient and Primary" ] Sermon "Manifestations" ] Sermon "The Green Grace of God" ] Sermon "Signs of Sacred Things" ] Sermon "A Deal with the Future" ] Sermon "Free from Fear" ] Sermon "To Carry Each Other" ] Sermon " With God in Death; with Each Other in Dying" ] Sermon "Healing Prayers" ] Sermon "Facing God's Miracle" ] Sermon "Finding All Three" ] Sermon "Controlling Christmas" ] Sermon "Finding Jesus" ] Sermon "God as a Baby" ] Sermon "What Does It Mean" ] Sermon "Katrina's New Covenant Call" ] Sermon "Elevate your Expectations" ] Sermon "See: the Healing" ] Sermon "Lifeless Chaos and Living Creation" ] Sermon "Rapt Gifts" ] Sermon "Welcome to Reality" ] Sermon "Offering Up Thanks" ] Sermon "Blue State Blues" ] Sermon "Are we not entitled to thanks?" ] Sermon "Ancient Pieces of Peace" ] Sermon "Noticing Neighbors" ] Sermon "A Summer Day of Renewal" ] Sermon "A New Thing" ] Sermon "Breath of New Life" ] Sermon "Easter" ] Sermon "Sin: Currently Tense" ] Sermon "Why Are You Angry?" ] Sermon "Anxiety over Sin" ] Sermon "A Marriage Grade in Heaven?" ] Sermon "Isn't Marriage Gay?" ] Sermon "Expanding the Body of Christ" ] Sermon "Miracles:  Seeing More in our Midst" ] Sermon "Turning to God" ] Sermon "Why are You in Churchl" ] Sermon "Remember your Baptism" ] Sermon "Every Day Spirituality" ] Sermon "The Cross and Joy of Love" ] Sermon "Welcome Back" ] Sermon "Living Together" ] Sermon "Transforming Destruction" ] Sermon "The Work of Healing" ] Sermon "Peace" ]Back to top