Here is my Christmas Eve homily! I love the last paragraph, “Tonight we put our to-do lists down, we shake off any of the lingering stress we might be feeling over the holidays and we stop trying to create magic; because God has taken care of that for us. God has created magic in this story. And it does not matter how we got here – tonight we are all in Bethlehem. And we are about to witness something amazing.” – I think these words ring true today, as we journey towards the cross and Easter.
Rehoboth Congregational Church
December 24, 2019
Christmas Eve Homily
God Has Things Under Control
On Saturday afternoon, I asked my 18-month-old, Harrison, if he wanted to make cookies for daddy. He excitedly said yes and I sat him on the counter and started pulling stuff out of the pantry and cabinets. I think I had this magical picture in my head of the two of us in the kitchen together, me measuring out all the ingredients and him pouring them into the bowl, together creating a magical Christmas memory.
Because that is what we try to do during this season, right? We create magic; we hang lights, decorate trees, bake festive treats and throw fabulous parties. We make this season – which, in this part of the world is otherwise dark and cold – magical.
Of course, sometimes in life, especially with toddlers, the magical picture we have in our head doesn’t always pan out to reality.
And about 20 minutes into our magical baking experience, after I had asked him about 19 times not to stand up on the counter, he accidentally knocked over a decorative glass bowl that was full of Christmas ornament balls. It hit the ground and glass went everywhere.
And I mean everywhere.
Now, the question of why I had a decorative glass bowl full of Christmas ornament balls on the counter while I was baking with a toddler is irrelevant to the point of the sermon.
As calmly as I could, I picked Harrison up off the counter and brought him in his playroom. Then I picked up the cat and put her in the living room. Then I got the piece of glass out of my foot that I had stepped on in the process. And then I started to clean up all the glass. While I swept and steamed the kitchen floor, Harrison stood at the gate to his playroom, shaking it and sobbing hysterically because he wanted to be in the kitchen. And on the other side of the kitchen, the cat pawed at the gate in the living room, meowing relentlessly because she wanted to be fed.
At that particular moment in time, I had a few choice words for Christmas, none of which I will repeat from the pulpit.
And then my phone buzzed. I received two text messages from a friend and colleague of mine. I had actually seen her earlier in the week; she is recently ordained and was kind of frantic because the white stole she had ordered to wear on Christmas Eve hadn’t come it yet and she needed to borrow one of mine. When she stopped by to pick it up, we were joking about some of the road blocks we had both stumbled over, both as pastors and as moms, to get to Bethlehem this year. I glanced at the texts; the first one was really long and since I had glass all over my floor I skipped to the second one that simply said, “But God has things all under control …”
Now it turns out she had forgotten to pick up her robe at the drycleaners and they were closed, but she managed to track down the owner of the drycleaners at home, who showed kindness and compassion and met her there after hours so she could pick it up and have it for the weekend and Christmas. But I did not know that all the time. All I knew was that I was surrounded by pieces of broken glass, a toddler crying and a cat meowing and the message I saw was, “But God has things all under control.”
As I looked down at the glass that was still all over my kitchen, I realized she was right. It was because of our brokenness and the chaos that we lived in that God came into our world in the first place. God did not enter a world that was perfect, God entered a world that desperately needed to be saved. God came into this world not because we are strong, but because we are weak; not because we have all the answers, but because we still have a lot of questions; not because we are whole, but because we are very much broken.
And that is the real magic of Christmas. It is not about the perfect decorations or gifts or traditions (or cookies). It is about remembering that no matter where we are on our journey through life – if we are healthy or if we are sick, if we are happy or if we are sad, if we are organized or if we are one shattered decorative bowl away from chaos, if we feel whole or if we feel broken, God is with us.
Our cries for Emmanuel have been heard.
You know how I had this magical picture in my head of this Christmas cookie making process? The more I think about it, the really magical part about Christmas is that it does not matter how we get to Bethlehem – whether we skip joyfully from one fun tradition to the next or whether we manage to find every pothole to fall into along the way – we all get there together. And, there waiting for us – in a manger, in the form of a beautiful baby boy – is Emmanuel, God with us.
Tonight we will hear one of the most magical stories that has ever been told. A story of hope, a story of love, a story of hospitality, a story of perseverance and a story of grace. This is a story that invites us into its narrative; a story that is very much still being written in our own lives every time we tell it. This is a story that illuminates the darkness of a cold winter’s night. This is a story that reminds us that no matter what we are going through in life, God is with us.
Tonight we put our to-do lists down, we shake off any of the lingering stress we might be feeling over the holidays and we stop trying to create magic; because God has taken care of that for us. God has created magic in this story. And it does not matter how we got here – tonight we are all in Bethlehem. And we are about to witness something amazing.
Thanks be to God!