Now the excitement and expectation for Christmas can run pretty high on Christmas Eve right? I was reminded of these expectations while watching one of my all time favorite Christmas movies, the 1989 classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Has anyone seen this movie? In one classic scene, Clark and his wife Ellen are talking shortly before their families arrive for the holiday. Ellen expresses some concerns that it will be stressful to have everyone in the house together. She suggests maybe they could change their plans and stay somewhere else. But Clark says no that he wants to have an old fashioned family Christmas at their home. Ellen then says “You set standards that no family activity can live up to.” Clark responds; “When have I ever done that?” And of course we all know that he always does that. And many of us do this too, I know that I certainly do.
So it can be hard to remember what we celebrate at Christmas in the midst of all these expectations. What are we celebrating tonight besides the vacation time, delicious food and gifts? Tonight we celebrate that God came to earth as a baby. This is the most amazing gift of all. It is such an amazing that is hard to understand. How could God be a tiny baby?
Another question you might have tonight is what did we do to deserve having God come to earth to be with us as a tiny baby? Then angel praises God and tells us that Jesus brings peace on earth to those whom He favors. What did we do to deserve the peace that Jesus brings?
The best way to find the answers to these two questions is to enter into the story and imagine that we are a part of the story. If we are wondering How God be a tiny baby? And we did to deserve the peace this baby brings? Then we have to dive in and see where we fit into the story. Are we Mary? Joseph? A shepherd? Or an angel? Whose role in this story do you relate to? They each have an important part to play in the story of Christmas. Mary says yes to God and welcomes a child into her life, knowing that it will change everything forever. Joseph trusts in God’s plan and takes care of Mary and Jesus. The shepherds were the first to witness to the good news of Christ’s birth. The angels were chosen to tell the shepherds and everyone else the Christmas story. Depending on where you are in life right now, you might identify with a different role in the story.
I know that this year I identify with Mary because I welcomed my own first-born son just a few months ago. Becoming a mother has totally changed my perspective on Christmas. It has helped me understand the first big question of Christmas - How could God come to earth as a baby? Having this little baby in my life helps me understand how God could come to earth as a baby because I see so much of God’s perfect creation in this sweet child. He has helped me learn that God is in every child and every person. Becoming a mother has also helped me understand the second big question of Christmas – what did we do to deserve the Christ child? I can tell you that we have done nothing to deserve this gift. This gift was freely given of God’s graciousness just as I did nothing to deserve the privilege of having my own sweet child.
I first connected the birth of my own son to the birth of Christ while reading James the book “On the Night You Were Born.” Have any of you read this book or had it read to you? In this book, the author describes how the world stood still to note the birth of a baby one night. And it sounds a lot the Christmas story but it is also the story of every baby. This is how we should celebrate the birth of Jesus and of every person.
Now I would like to share this story with you. Listen closely for your role in the story. The wind and the rain are like the angels in the Christmas story. The polar bears, geese and ladybugs are just like the shepherds. The person reading the story might be like Mary or Joseph. And I know that everyone listening to the story is just like Jesus. So listen close…
On the night you were born,
The moon smiled with such wonder
That the stars peeked in to see you
And the night wind whispered,
“Life will never be the same.”
Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world.
So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain
That they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.
It sailed through the farmland
High on the breeze…
Over the ocean…
And through the trees…
Until everyone heard it
And everyone knew
Of the one and only ever you.
Not once had there been such eyes,
Such a nose,
Such silly, wiggly, wonderful toes.
When the polar bears heard,
They danced until dawn.
From faraway places,
The geese flew home.
The moon stayed up until
Morning next day.
And none of the ladybugs flew away.
So whenever you doubt just how special you are
And you wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
Listen for geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)
Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)
Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely…it’s whispering your name again!)
If the moon stays up until morning one day,
Or a ladybug lands and decides to stay,
Or a little bird sits at your window awhile,
It’s because they’re all hoping to see you smile…
For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
Has the world ever known a you, my friend,
And it never will, not ever again…
Heaven blew every trumpet
And played every horn
On the wonderful, marvelous
Night you were born.
We are the ones who hear this good news of great joy. We are the ones who receive the gift of the Christ child. So let us blow every trumpet and play every horn to celebrate this night when Jesus was born. Amen.