Christmas Sermon Preached on December 24, 2019
At the Presbyterian Church in Geneva, New York
By Rev. Dr. Deborah Lind
Footprints…a Lantern…a Door
The Christmas message in lessons and carols is so familiar and so comforting. It brings memories of past Christmas Eve gatherings with all the people we love and some that we are missing tonight. It gives us hope for today and faith for the future.
Do not let this moment pass to quickly. Take it in.
Look at the fullness of the sanctuary that does not happen each Sunday during ordinary time. Notice the beauty of this church which has gathered believers for more 221 years. See your neighbors and friends, new faces and young children.
Relish the gifts of faith in the lessons you have heard and the carols you have sung.
Give yourself the gifts of a quiet moment of reflection on your life in light of those scriptures. See with eyes of your heart, your past, present and future.
Where you have been? Where are you now? What do you hope for the future? Those answers will take more time than this sermon.
However, in light of the Christmas lessons and carols, let’s consider the Good News for our lives today and the future. Do you hear what I hear? First, Isaiah’s hopeful vision of justice and peace is always relevant. How we long for a wonderful Counselor and Prince of peace to uphold justice and righteousness.
Second, Mary and Joseph’s encounters with God’s messengers. This poor girl’s life is turned upside down and her future is questionable. The door seems to be closed to a happy marriage. Yet, she receives the angel’s news with thanks and praise because her son is blessed and will be a blessing to the world. How did quiet Joseph handle the news? He changed his attitude and went against societies expectations and became quintessential gracious stepfather.
Third, I marvel at the courage and faith of shepherds and wise men who changed their course. The good news motivated these wise men to risk their lives to find the Christ child.
Someone reminded me of the profound carol “Mary did you know?” Mary reflects on the life and ministry of her son, Jesus. Looking back, she can see how God had a plan for that tiny infant. Looking backwards we can see the hand of God, guiding and caring for us during difficult times. We journey forward by faith, trusting in God’s light to guide our path. The Prophet Isaiah promise of a light to all who dwell darkness and he is not referring to the winter solstice. It is a vision of God’s light in the long expected, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, prince of peace. In the Gospel of John, Christ is that light for all people.
I came across a Christmas quote by G. K. Chesterton poem about Christmas the book “Door Set Open”. You may know him from the TV series “Father Brown” or his many publications.
He wrote this about the Good news of Christmas.
Good News: but if you ask me what it is, I know not:
It is a track of feet in the snow,
It is a lantern showing a path,
It is a door set open.
A track of feet in the snow…our own past visible only for a while. However, we can look back to see where we have been. And, it shows us where to go forward. Trust God and carry on.
Next, the Good news is “a lantern showing a path”.
God has given us a Light to guide our way in Jesus Christ, God’s word made flesh. Even in the darkness of the soul we have God to guide us. As the Gospel of John proclaims: “No darkness will overcome the Light in Christ”.
Lastly, The Good news is a “door set open”. Trust that as you go into the future, God provides an open door. Look for it. Trust in God’s provision.
Remember that Mary and Joseph were potentially homeless until the Innkeeper out of kindness opened the door to his stable. The open door image also reminds us to be hospitable and welcoming. Consider how Mary and Joseph welcomed the shepherds, angels and finally the wise men visits.
Share the Good News that you have received.
Reflect on God Light and be ready to hold up a lantern for someone else’s path. Encourage each other in the faith
Set the door open in your heart and home to God’s love. Keep your door open to God’s possibilities and newness of life.
Remember the Greatest gift we can give at Christmas is the Gift that God has given us in Jesus, the Christ. The Word made flesh, the light of the world, the Prince of Peace.
May Christ be the light that that guides us on our journey through life into eternal life.
Glory to God in the Highest! Amen
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