below is the homily I wrote for tonight, but did not deliver. Instead, I shared a moment of 'revelation' holding my three year old son prior to the children's service. He has curly blond hair and a smile which captures human hearts on a regular basis. He has some very special challenges but also has a presence which captivates people. His job was to be a lamb, which he was not too sure about. As I held him to calm him, I looked at him and suddenly in a flash I sensed God's message.
He is your little lamb, your beloved child. You cherish him.
Jesus is my child, my son, my beloved. He is my lamb, offered for you, for your son, and for everyone else's children in the whole world.... I love my baby boy, and the thought of offering him up that way... God's gift: Jesus. That is the meaning of Christmas.
Luke 2:1-20 provides us with a built in interpretation of the what the birth of this baby means. An obscure Jewish couple, under compulsion of an oppressive foreign empire, are made to travel a great distance at a most inopportune time. However, they are part of David's line, the once and future King of Israel. She gives birth in exile, there is no room for her. The baby sleeps in a food trough--subtle allusions to the upper room, the eucharist and the tomb of Jesus are a reminder of the rest of the story.
Shepherds, another allusion to David, are nearby. There low social status and high symbolic meaning are at home in this paradoxical tale of the birth of the Messiah. An angel brings an evangel/ good news message. Angelos is a Greek word, it means messenger and refers to anyone who serves as an emissary for another. These particular messengers are from God so their message is more important and totally trustworthy.
There are two components which I want to emphasize.
The baby is Savior, Messiah and Lord. These three words carry a great deal of baggage, they are 'heavy' words full of deep meaning.
The angels, the heavenly host, give glory to God and declare peace on earth. Peace is understood in its Hebrew sense: tranquility, safety, security and prosperity. Shalom. It is the way of life in God's Kingdom.
Because of Who Jesus is (Savior, Messiah, Lord) we can rest assured in the assurance of rest. We can rest in peace, even in the midst of this present strife. If the night is dark the light of God's glory is still real.
The message of Christmas, the true meaning of Christmas is found in these words. To you is given a savior who is Christ/Messiah and Lord. All will be well, days of peace and prosperity are coming, in the mean time you need to believe.
and be an angel.
a messenger. an emissary. someone sent by God to tell this good news to others, especially people in difficult circumstance who need a reason to hope.