The Christmas Story

December 30, 2013

Christmas for many of us is a very traditional time. We have the same cookies that often only come out in December. We dig out ornaments made many years ago. And there are stories and movies that often make up part of our celebration. Some of these are so familiar to us that we only need the first line to evoke a special feeling for us. “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…”, perhaps its “Every Who Down in Who-ville Liked Christmas a lot… But the Grinch, Who lived just North of Who-ville, Did NOT!” Perhaps for some of us, Christmas wouldn’t be complete with movies like the claymation Rudolph or the Charlie Brown Christmas, or Miracle on 34th Street. We all have our own traditions to make this time special and make it holy for us.
And there are other kinds of stories, ones that are more personal: family stories, stories of Christmas’s past. And sometimes we set out to create new stories and new traditions. When we remember these, we see how we are all connected to each other.

Of course, at this Christmas Eve service, we retell the key story; the birth of Jesus Christ, and it always begins the same way, “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus…” This is a beautiful and even exciting passage: The challenges and hardships faced by Mary and Joseph; the celebration of the Angels; and the curiosity of the shepherds. But this is not a story like the Grinch or It’s a Wonderful Life. This is the second kind: it’s a family story. In fact, it’s part of our family story; it is the story of a real person, Jesus our brother who was born in a stable and laid in a manger. So tonight we celebrate the mystery that God came to live among us, and this truth has changed us forever.

If we think about our own stories, we can see how they change over time. Let me give you one example. When each of my children were born, my own story changed and their stories began. Not only did my day to day life change, but I began to understand the whole of my life differently. I gained much more appreciation for my parents and the decisions they made. I gained appreciation for parents of my friends. And I found that the choices I made as a younger person were given new meaning. So when this new person came into my life, my whole story changed. At the same time, my children have their own stories as well of which I am a part. So as a family, our stories were woven together.
That’s true of all of us as well. Not all of us have children or brothers or sisters, but we all have parents, friends and neighbors. We are all part of each other’s stories; we are all children in God’s family, and we are part of this incredible fabric. This is what is so important about Christmas.

When Jesus this little boy was born all those years ago, his birth changed everything forever. Just like us, Jesus had parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, cousins, and friends. He was part of each of their lives. And just as we are part of each other’s lives, Jesus’ life changed the meaning of everything that came before him and everything that comes after. Tonight we remember that the love of God was woven directly into the tapestry of all of creation.
As Christians, we are blessed to be given the task to look for those threads of love and mercy that are part of our own stories, so that we can bring them out and share them with the world. Tonight we remember and give thanks that God himself has come among us, to stand with us in our troubles and to share in our joys. We give thanks that God humbled himself to share every aspect of our lives, and by sharing our life, God has blessed each and every one of us here in this church. Tonight we give thanks that God became part of each of our stories, bringing redemption and salvation to all creation.

– Michael Tuck+

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