Christmas Sermon 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

Christ is Born! ~ Glorify Him!

On Christmas Eve 1914 German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in Belgium for Christmas. They began by placing candles on trees, and then continued the celebration by singing Christmas Carols most notably Stille Nacht (Silent Night). The British troops in the trenches on the other side responded by singing in English.

The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon there were calls for visits across “no man’s land” where small gifts were exchanged. The artillery fell silent, and the truce allowed a breathing spell where the dead could be recovered and given a proper burial. The truce lasted through the night and then the war began again but the soldiers were forever changed. Some commanders on both sides complained that the truce made the war harder because it is difficult to shoot someone you know.

On this night the King of peace was born into the world. He came into the world just as all of us came into the world. This little child would change the world in ways that we sitting here tonight may never know. This little child came to bring a message of peace. Peace to all, peace that we saw in the illustration I used at the start, the Christmas truce of 1914. On that Christmas the guns fell silent and for a brief moment peace had been restored to the world.

Much has been said about the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is a time for giving and a time of forgiving. Christmas is the time for families and friend to gather round and celebrate just being together. Yes these are all the meaning of Christmas. But for us Orthodox Christians the meaning of this night is all of the above but more importantly the true meaning of Christmas is that the Son of God became man in order to accomplish our salvation. Yes the real meaning of Christmas is Salvation. Not many Christmas carols about that!He was born in a stable… to teach us to be poor in spirit. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God. We need to be humble, humble before God and let God in our lives and through us to help bring salvation to the world. “No one can celebrate Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need of God – there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God” (Oscar Romero, December 24, 1978)

His coming was announced to Shepherds… to teach us the value of this humility. Shepherds were the low ones in society. They spend all day alone in the fields with their sheep. The announcement was not made on Fox News or CNN it was announced to the humble, the low, so we could imitate that humility of heart on our Christian journey.

He was adored by the Magi… to teach us that He is the King of the Universe. It was a star that guided then to Bethlehem, not a Hollywood star, but a star from heaven and He, this little child born this night some years latter was to be nailed to the cross of Calvary to redeem us and to save us, because the love He has for you knows no bounds.

On this night the Son of God assumed out human nature. Because of this God allows us through His sanctifying grace to share in this Divine Nature. Here is the very essence of Christmas. The very core of what we celebrate this night. The simple message that this simple child brought to this world, God took our human nature, so that we might share in His divine nature. God became man that we might become godlike!

We are, all of us, created in the image and likeness of God. Our lives do not consist in the amount of our possessions or the power that we may or may not have. We human beings are human because our fundamental and essential property is being the most perfect created expressions of God’s being and life. We are made to be imitators of God and partakers of the divine nature.

We affirm that Jesus Christ has come into the world this night to restore this image and likeness. This night He enables us to be what we are created to be in the beginning. He does this not only because he is the only-begotten Son and Word, but because he is the very image of the invisible God. Those who see Jesus see God. St. Symeon tells us, “Through His coming in the body, God came to earth to refashion humanity and renew it, and in addition to bless all of creation.”

On this night Mary and Joseph searched the village for a place to bring the Son of God into the world. Door after door they knocked and there was no room for them, there was no room in the Inn. Tonight Jesus is knocking on the door of your hearts. Jesus, the Son of God is searching for a place to lay his head. On this night that we celebrate the light coming into the world will you make room for Him in the Inn of your heart or will the door be locked and the windows shuttered?

There is an ancient Celtic Christmas Carol that sums up this night is a wonderful way:

This night is the eve of the great Nativity,
Born is the Son of Mary the Virgin,
The soles of His feet have reached the earth,
The Son of glory down from on high,
Heaven and earth glowed to Him
All hail, let there be joy!

The peace of earth to Him, the joy of heaven to Him,
Behold his feet have reached the world;
The homage of a King be His, the welcome of a Lamb be His,
King of all victorious, Lamb all glorious,
Earth and ocean illumed Him,
All hail, let there be joy!

The mountain glowed to Him; the plains glowed to Him,
The voice of the waves with the song of the strand,
Announcing to us that Christ is born,
Son of the King of kings for the land of salvation;
Shone the sun on the mountains high to Him,
All hail, let there be joy!

Shone to Him the earth and sphere together,
God the Lord has opened a door;
Son of Mary Virgin, hasten thou to help me,
Thou Christ of hope, Thou door of joy,
Golden sun of hill and mountain,
All hail, let there be joy!

Christ is Born! ~ Glorify Him!

error: Content is protected !!