A sermon for Christmas Day
The Rev. Canon Clifford B. Carr
Christmas is a story-telling time, and one of my favorite stories is what you might call “an accidental Christmas story” - - it goes like this:
Once upon a time there was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his backpack with some Twinkies and some cans of Coke and started on his journey. When he’d gone half a mile, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his backpack.
He was about to drink from one of his cans of Coke when he noticed the old woman looked hungry. So he offered her some Twinkies. She gratefully accepted and smiled at him. Her smile was lovely and the little boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a drink of Coke. The smile returned. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling – but they never said a word. As it grew dark the boy realized how tired he was and got up to leave. He hadn’t gone more than a few steps when he quickly turned around and ran back to the old woman and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.
When the boy returned home his mother was surprised at the look of joy on his face. She asked him “What did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I had lunch with God.” And then, before his mother could say a word, he said: “You know what? She has the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.”
Meanwhile, the old woman, radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her
son was surprised by the look of peace on her face and asked: “Mother
what did you do today that made you so happy?” She replied: “I ate
Twinkies in the park with God.” “You know,” she said “He’s much
younger than I expected.”
Two people brought together to experience the love of God. Two people who discovered in each other the mystery of God. And Christmas is the celebration of that mystery. For God loved us so much that “the Word became flesh and lived among us.” God came down at Christmas, so that in the flesh of his Son He might be one with us in every moment and in every experience of our lives. In doing this, God taught us that each of us has the power to bring that same love to each other.
At Christmas the angels proclaim “peace on earth.” Angels announce the gift of peace. But this gift of peace…which we long for so much…only becomes a reality when we make peace with each other and learn to echo the making of peace in all our relationships.
Christmas is many things for many people. For some it is a reminder of the way life used to be. It is filled with memories of family and friends, of sharing and love. And for some this feast is filled with pain. Loss and emptiness must be dealt with. There is a stocking that stays folded in the box – someone missing at the dinner table. There is a hurt that you hope goes away quickly.
But no matter what is going on in our lives, Christ is here with us. He came for us – for you and for me. He sits with us as the little boy sat with the old woman in the park. And in this Christmas Eucharist He shares with us not just food – He shares with us the gift of himself.
In these December days, have you met God anywhere? In the park, or in a store, hospital, or classroom? Is God present in Iraq, Chicago, or the Madoff scandal? Is God present anywhere in this messy world of ours? Our Christmas faith answers with a resounding “YES!” - - The Good News at this winter celebration is that in Jesus Christ God is with, for, of, behind, and among, NOT JUST US, but particularly with and for the weakest and poorest and least sparkly of us. God is born a child to give his wailing cry to those whose wailing is not heard. God is born to give salvation to those whom our world does not care to save. God Is born to walk with our sisters and brothers in Kajo-Keji who have to walk instead of ride. God is born to make rich beyond measure those who have nothing to spend on themselves. God is born as light shining in the darkness, light so powerful that it cannot be eclipsed by any earthly light or even fully dimmed by our own worst horrors of war and violence.
Once again this Christmas the stories have been told - - stories by Luke, Matthew and John, stories by Dickens and Clement Clark Moore – stories lived out with and by people we know - - by ourselves.
The telling and remembering of these stories invites us once again into being made whole, and searching and seeking to find the source of the light of Bethlehem’s star. Our task every year is to hear the story with new ears, and to see the light in the darkness around us, then, with Mary, to tell out the greatness of the Lord to those who wait in darkness. Amen.