To read this sermon from The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr. click on “Continue reading” below.
Message based upon Luke 2:1-20
Since I was old enough to serve as a diener as a young teenager at Little Church on the Lane, in Charlotte, NC I have always spent a great deal of my Christmas Eve with my other family, my church family. Whether it is our immediate family or our church family, I think that one of the great blessings of each Christmas is having that opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones. Desmond Tutu the South African apartheid activist and Bishop in the Anglican Church once said the following about family:
You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
As we think of Jesus’ family we know that he was born in one of the least inviting places for a family to celebrate such a joyous occasion as a birth of a child. We remember how, on that holy night, Mary and Joseph could find no place to stay, so they found a manger and made their bed with the animals of the stable. That first Christmas involved a family that had Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus. Soon, this little family became larger as people of all walks of life were brought together around Jesus. First there were angels, shepherds and the wise men. As Jesus became older, others were brought into his family. We remember how this child grew up, growing in wisdom and in years, expressing God’s goodness through his words and deeds as he healed and comforted people. Jesus chose to love the stranger from all walks of life like tax collectors, fisherman, those suffering from leprosy, Jews and Gentiles to name just a few. In every generation more people became a part of this family. As speak about family, we are fully aware that many families at Christmas continue to struggle. We have those among us who have been without employment for quite some time. We know those who are separated from loved ones because of geography. Others this Christmas are perhaps separated from loved ones serving in the armed forces. Still others among us will be celebrating Christmas without a special someone in their life who has passed away. Overflow homeless shelters will be filled tonight with those who find it difficult to find joy in their lives amidst their dark circumstances.
Certainly it is true that there are things going on in our lives that possibly make our Christmas celebrations a little less merry and bright. Whatever our struggles might be, Christmas comes to remind us that we are all connected, that God’s desire for us is that there be peace and good will among us. Amidst our struggles and those of the world, Christmas is a time for connection with God. Our connection with God and our potential to have peace and good will is made possible through a tiny child born in a manger. God calls us to be people of peace. We can let peace live in our hearts as we share our love for God with others. In doing this we can begin to act out of compassion and not fear, we can more effectively listen to others; we can become prayerful remembering the needs of our community and our world. The late Howard Thurman, a theologian, educator, and civil rights leader once composed the following entitled, “Now the Work of Christmas Begins” and it says:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the people,
To make music in the heart.
Amidst our family celebrations let us not forget this work of Christmas we are called to do and let us not forget this great gift God has given us through Jesus. Our family at Christ Moravian Church hopes that the Lord will richly bless you this day and always.
The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.
December 24, 2016