Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning Sermon

For Christmas morning, we gathered in our fellowship hall for a light breakfast, followed by a service of alternating readings from Luke and traditional carols.  Bits and pieces of the short message from the pastor went something like this:

As I put today’s bulletin together, I found myself thinking about my girlhood ~
Growing up in a household that was neither religious nor musical ~
But we did have a piano and a book of carols ~
And I used to play through them, every single verse, in an order of my own liking, making up a Christmas pageant in my head

What I didn’t realize was that ~ 
In learning those songs ~
I was learning Scripture ~

A week or so ago, several of us were engaged in a couple of discussions on the internet ~
About our favorite Christmas songs ~
And about seldom heard verses ~  
Which often contain the densest Scriptural and theological allusions ~

Look at some of this morning’s lines:
Not just O little town of Bethlehem ~
But God imparts to human hearts the blessings of God’s heaven ~
God delivers straight into the core of our beings the gift of God’s kingdom
Not just While shepherds watched their flocks ~
But Good will henceforth from heaven to us begin and never cease ~
History has been interrupted and has begun anew; God’s kingdom will never end

And my favorite from childhood:
Not just It came upon the midnight clear ~
But The new heaven and earth shall own the Prince of Peace their King ~
I didn’t know it when I was ten, but those words are from the Book of Revelation and from the prophet Isaiah

These songs?
We sing them every year.  We hear bits and pieces of them on the radio and in the malls and stores. If we’re really lucky, we participate in choir concerts and get to rehearse them for weeks ~

But even then, do we know that in listening to them, and singing them,

               We are learning the story in the first words in which it was told.
               We are learning the Scriptural version of Jesus’ birth.
               And we are learning, perhaps without any awareness at all, of the great hope those words express.

I personally happen to think that music is the best part of worship. 
               In music we find our Scriptural texts
                              We find our sermons
                                             And we find our hearts and minds raised and filled
                                                            With the hope of a new heaven and a new earth

And most especially at Christmas, when that hope comes in the form of the baby whose birth became The First Noel. Which we are about to sing ~
And which, by the way, tells us that the star shone both day and night.  Imagine a star – other than the sun around which we orbit -- that you can see in broad daylight!

               That would be the other Son, the Son of God.  Amen!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! And so apt ... to see (hear) something so "common" and to find out that it is so incredibly special, so precious.