These notes are intended for distribution to members and friends of the Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian Church family. While effort is made to give credit for work done by others, the notes may use material for which appropriate credit is not given. Also, the notes may differ from the actual sermon as it was delivered. Remember, sermons are meant to be preached and are therefore prepared with the emphasis on verbal presentation; the written accounts occasionally stray from proper grammar and punctuation.
This recording is intended for distribution to members and friends of the Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian Church family. While effort is made to give credit for work done by others, the notes may use material for which appropriate credit is not given.
Before the Reading:
Tonight I’m about to read about the song of the angels. The word Angel simply means messenger. Luke doesn’t mention wings or robes or haloes. We all made that up. Think of Angels as windows in the wall between heaven and earth… through which God’s truth finds a way in. They break into our space… they come bearing the truth and beauty of God. So as I read the scripture tonight. I invite you to listen closely to the message of the angels as a word of God for us.
Well, I want to offer very Merry Christmas wishes and blessings to everybody who is here. I love tonight… when we gather as a church family with friends and family from all over the place. This gathering is one of the things that makes the evening special. So thank you for being here.
I want to share with you tonight a poem I discovered just a few days ago– written by a Catholic priest, Father Breighner. It goes like this:
There was a time when there was no time,
When darkness reigned as king,
When a formless void was all that there was
in the nothingness of eternity,
When it was night.
But over the void and over the night Love watched…
There was a time of waiting in the darkness.
A time when (men and women) waited in the shadows,
And all creation groaned in sadness.
There was waiting for Love to speak again–for Love to breathe again.
And kings and nations and empires rose and faded in the shadows.
And Love waited and watched.
Finally, there came a time when Love spoke again.
A Word from eternity–a Word
Tonight, is the night we remember the time when love spoke again… through a word… a word made flesh… Luke tells us how the word was first spoken by angels to some shepherds… Shepherds!- the first people, after Mary and Joseph to receive the word according to Luke. Shepherds?! An odd choice if you ask me…
For example, let’s be honest… no one would in that time and place-not you or me-would have expected God to show up and speak to those shepherds… not the shepherds. While we have dressed up kids to be cute shepherds and romanticized them… in the time of Luke, they were usually ranked with donkey drivers, sailors, butchers, camel drivers and other despised occupations. Hardly middle class and respectable. More like dirty and despised. By some they were considered thieves because they grazed their flocks on other people’s property… Because of their jobs, they could not keep up with the religious rules and regulations required of good religious people… they were not welcome in the church… they weren’t good enough for God, people told them… so the orthodox and righteous looked down on them… and surely, many thought, God must have looked down on them… and people like them.
Not the case, says Luke. It was to them… to ordinary people… hard working people… people just trying to make ends meet and feed their families…To Shepherds just going about their business… living in the fields… keeping watch over their flocks… it is to them God speaks a word of peace and goodwill… sending an angel full of the glory and the presence of the Lord to offer them this good news from heaven:
“Do not be afraid; for see-I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people, to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
And so, there came a time when love spoke again…
breathed new life and hope for the world…
And a new day was dawning for the world…
A day when light returned to darkness, when life returned to dispel death… And so a day came when Love became a human being-a mother bore a child.
Tonight Luke wants us to remember that moment… that moment in time… All the songs we’ve been singing through Advent… all the songs Luke has been singing- Mary’s Song, Elizabeth’s Song, Zechariah’s song, John’s song-all those songs have been but a prelude to the song of tonight: the angels song… a song of celebration over this great news… news so great… so exciting… not one, but a whole army of angels break forth into singing a song of joy:
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors”
Tonight, the song is a song of joy because the news is so good, that a joyful song seems like the only way to celebrate.
Luke wants us to remember that there is something so full of excitement and love happening tonight… something so full of peace and goodwill… that you just have to sing. This news is THAT good. Luke wants us to know that if you are looking for God or whether or not you are looking for God… God has come… and God will show up in your life… maybe not where you expect or to who you expect, but God will show up.
My question for you tonight is this. Where have you seen God show up in your life?
Luke would suggest where to look. Look in the shadows… look in the places long forgotten… look among the people long forgotten… look in the places in your own life where you feel most vulnerable…and likely you will find God there.
I think of a story a story told by Diane Komp, a pediatric oncologist. She remembered the last words of a seven-year-old girl named Anna-who was dying of cancer. As she was about to die, Anna raised herself up on her pillow and said:
“The angels-they’re so beautiful! Mommy, can you see them? Do you hear their singing? I’ve never heard such beautiful singing!”
Where have you seen God in all of his love and glory show up in your life with a message of peace and goodwill-maybe when you needed it most?
Perhaps you will find that love and glory coming your way this Christmas when you decide to offer a little goodwill and peace of your own… you gather the courage to tell your son how much you love him when he’s home for a few days… Or when you share a word of forgiveness for your daughter you’ve been angry with when she cracks the door that leads home… God’s love and glory will be there. Or when you accept forgiveness and you receive the gift of reconciliation… and you experience for yourself peace and goodwill… If that happens, sing, “Glory to God in highest heaven!”
Where have you seen God in all of God’s glory show up? For me, I have noticed God showing up in places of vulnerability… moments when we open ourselves to God and others…
In the past weeks, I’ve seen God show up among you– … caring for each other as someone hurts… in the hospital… caring for people you have never met-some forgotten…
– In the past year, you know that your prayers and thoughts and cards and visits and love have made a tremendous difference in the lives of the Welkers as we have faced cancer… God’s love and glory has shown all around us…
– a member of the Kirk tells me the a story of a hard life… years ago, a young son dies after losing a fight to cancer… today she has lost health for the rest of her life… and yet she speaks to me of faith… in a living and loving God… pulling her through some of the worst life can bring… I have seen God’s glory and love show up there… (Glory to God in Highest heaven)
In a few minutes I’m expecting to see God show up around the table… where for a few moments we’ll gather to share a Christmas eve meal, as it were, with our Lord and Savior. He’s preparing a feast for us you know. Oh, it doesn’t look like much… just a little bread and a little grape juice. But open yourself up to that meal… to Christ’s love… and you’ll find a little bread and juice will fill you up with the very glory of God. You will discover a peace that no one else can offer in this world… the peace of love… and forgiveness… that can only come from God.
So tonight, we listen to the angels sing and we gather to remember when God came down in Christ… and filled us with his glory… offering hope to a people who had lost all hope… offering peace, to a people whose lives were in chaos… offering love to those who felt all alone in this world… and yes, to bringing joy… to those who could not remember the last time they had anything to be joyful about.
But tonight, they do… for a choir of angels is singing a song… and pointing and preparing the way for Christmas… the way to the place where God came to live with us…
So tonight, let us join the Shepherds and go see this thing God has done… let’s return to the stable where it all began… and let us remember that…
“… there came a time when Love breathed again
When love breathed new life into Mary’s yes.
And a new day dawned for the world.
A day when light returned to darkness, when life returned to dispel death… a day came when Love became human- a mother bore a child…
There came a time to celebrate what the world waited for.
And as we celebrate what was done that night, we become a part of that time…
A time when a new dawn and a new dream and a new creation began for all the world… which was good news… very good news for all God’s people.
Tonight is that night to celebrate and to join the angels in expressing our joyful praise to God… singing…”Glory to God in highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
Merry Christmas and thanks be to God! Amen.