Saturday, December 24, 2016

Gospel Text for Christmas Eve 24 December 2016

Luke 2.1-20       In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "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. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Reflection        Peace and glory, glory and peace, these two are handmaids that tend the birth of peasants as well as nobility.  Peace and glory, glory and peace, this holy couple is the right response of humanity to the birth of a child because peace and glory acknowledge the arrival of light in the depths of darkness, they declare the entrance of hope on the stage of suffering and despair.

And that is the reason ‘this day’ more than two billion Christians around the world are telling the humdrum tale of an impoverished couple and their newborn “child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” We never tire of retelling this story because it is full of peace and full of glory. We replay this saga because it is a story for all people and for all time. We recall this drama because we hunger to be fully alive, which is to say, we long to be full of peace and glory, right here, right now... this day. 

Many of us are exhausted. We have been living life as if we are people in exile; lost, wandering and wondering when we are going to get to some happily ever after state. Here is the thing. Life is not about what is missing. Life is not about waiting for some utopian ideal. Life is about ‘this day,” full of peace and full of glory. 

Of course you may reply, “Really? Have you not heard the news? According to the Global Peace Index of 2016 only ten countries in the entire world are not currently at war and are completely free from conflict.  Have you not heard, currently nearly 1 in 3 children, 1 in 5 Arizonans, and 1 in 7 seniors in Arizona live in poverty? Have you not heard that 40% of the people who receive emergency food assistance are working?*  Have you not heard, some of us have lost our jobs, our health, our loved ones? Where is the peace? Where is the glory?”

This is when the rest of the angel’s message is essential, “Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people.” The light that pierces the heart of darkness is here, this day. We do not have to wait until we find the perfect job or place to live. We do not have to wait until our student loans are paid, our tax debt is clear and our retirement plans secure. 

This is the day that the Lord has made;   let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118.24)  Let us be glad and grateful purveyors of God's peace and glory for all of humanity, this day. After all, God IS with us and with God nothing is impossible. 

Merry Christmas!

 St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance accessed 22 December 2016.

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