8:30 Christmas Eve Sermon
For so many of us, Christmas movies are as much a part of the season as Advent wreaths and baking cookies. We turn on old favorites and tentatively try out new ones with family and friends, looking for ways to retell the Christmas story. This season, we have been watching some common favorites and finding God’s themes for Advent and Christmas alongside the Hollywood razzle and dazzle. Tonight, let’s take a look at the Muppets Christmas Carol. Kermit and Miss Piggy’s take on the classic Charles Dicken novel. This clip picks up right as Scrooge is being escorted by the Spirit of Christmas present to see the life of his employee, Bob Cratchet.
Our lives always change when we look at the lives of others. We expand our compassion and empathy; we embody God’s way. All of our Christmas movies we featured as favorites were redemption stories – The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Home Alone (which is probably the biggest stretch), Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the Muppets Christmas Carol that we just saw a bit of. At the core of Christmas, we are waiting for the Christ child to come and change us. We are waiting for the Messiah to come so that Earth might be as it is in heaven – we pray that every time we mutter the Lord’s prayer. We are looking in the waiting of Advent and the celebration of Christmas, not for the offering of gifts or even the gathering of family as blessed as both are – we are looking for God to redeem us too!
We watch Scrooge in the window of Bob Cratchet as if we have caught our own reflection and realize that we need redemption. But not just as individuals do we need redemption – it is the whole world in need of this birth. It is the whole wide world who needs God Bless Us Every One and Jesus Christ was born for this!
A world in which the headlines we read and the difficulties we live have too much sway in our worry. It could be the sorrow and despair of not knowing how to react since Ferguson and Staten Island. It could be the fear of unrest around the world from the Middle East to the Ukraine. Or maybe is the number of deaths caused from Ebola and the fear that disease strikes into the hearts of folks so many thousands of miles away. Or maybe it’s the bullying threats of the North Korean government hackers. Or maybe….
The promise of God bless everyone and redemption – change of and for the world is far away. The angel’s cry of “peace on earth” seems like more of a wish than a blessing and we who gather to sing carols, light our candles, and hear the Christmas story seem so very small against the backdrop of this troubled world. And yet, we wait for the Messiah, for Christ’s coming specifically because it will all fade again against the backdrop of this story we’ve been telling now for nearly 2000 years. God loves this world! And God will not give up on it…or us. Moreover, God continues to come to love and bless this very world and invites us to do the same.
We do not hear the prophet Isaiah, the gospel writer, or even the wise Tiny Tim claim that the birth of Christ was only for those whose children are well behaved (thanks be to God) or who always treat others as they want to be treated. We do not hear that the birth of the Savior was only for those who look a certain way, act a certain way, come with a certain religious pedigree or understanding.
It’s an incredible claim – God Bless Us Everyone that reminds us that God comes to redeem each and every one of us. When you think about it: the birth of a baby to an unwed teen amid the squalor of a backwater town could possible matter. And yet there, in a nutshell, is the promise of the Gospel: that God regularly shows up where we least expect God to be and always for us.
It was shepherds on the edge of the town who heard the news first. They were not well dressed or properly educated. They were a motley crew with undoubtedly desirable and undesirable habits among them. It was outsiders whom God called to live differently. The unwed teen mother to open her whole self to God and her older fiancé to eschew common sense and legal wisdom to believe an unbelievable tale.
God Bless Us Everyone – those among us who struggle publicly and those who struggle privately. Those among us who believe with the clarity of a child and those among us who are not sure how to believe at all. The good news of Christmas is that Christ came to redeem each and every one of us. Christ came to change our lives – turn them right side up, so that we might live God’s perfect vision of heaven, here on earth.
God Bless Us, Everyone. The poor and the rich. The straight and the gay. The male and female. The homeless and multiple-homed. The perfectly polite and the bitterly grumpy. The young and the old. The doubter and the believer. The healthy and those seeking health. God Bless Us, Everyone!
The Good News of the angels is for us AND for them. The Good news of Christ birth cannot be contained. We like the shepherds must return home glorifying and praising God for all we have heard and seen.
This is the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, thanks be to God, Amen.