Summary: A homily for a community banquet at the Yonge Street Mission
Christmas Banquet Homily for Bridges - Down He Came From Up
Down he came from up,
and in from out,
and here from there.
A long leap, an incandescent fall
from magnificent to naked, frail, small,
through space, between stars,
into our chill night air,
shrunk, in infant grace,
to our damp, cramped earthy place
among all the shivering sheep.
And now, after all,
there he lies, fast asleep.
- Luci Shaw
That’s a poem that talks about the Incarnation, the reason we celebrate Christmas.
Here’s a passage from the Bible that talks about the same thing:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-4; 14)
We live in a secular culture that is not much interested in the actual meaning and value of Christmas.
Most of us are over-familiar with Santa and with being pressured to buy, buy, buy...stuff at Christmas, as if giving and receiving stuff was the point of Christmas. But it’s not.
The actual point of celebrating Christmas is to remember; to remember something incredibly important and something incredibly beautiful.
What matters is that something wonderful happened that changed the course of human history.
In small ways and big ways, the world has been impacted by the incarnation of Jesus, by the birth of God-in-the-flesh.
First of all, think of the year of your birth. What’s the year you were born. Mine is 1962.
Do you know why your birth year is the number that it is? It’s because they count years based on when Jesus was born.
I was born 1962 years after Jesus’ birth.
You have your own number of years - but what that number of years really represents is the number of years since the Saviour of humankind was born into this world.
Jesus literally divided history between what we call BC and AD. No one else in human history has done anything like that. That’s impressive.
The Bible says: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”.
That means, to cut out a lot of detail, that God, the maker of Everything in the universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, put on flesh and pitched his tent among us.
Christmas is all about the entry into the world of the person who is the key to transformation.
We celebrate Advent leading up to Christmas, and we celebrate Christmas in the Christian faith tradition, because we know how important it is that God became a human being in the person of Jesus.
We know how important it is that God showed us how to live through the teachings of Jesus. We also understand that through following Jesus, through the choice to make him a real part of our own life story, that we give ourselves the best possible opportunity to succeed in our lives, to succeed in our goals.
Bridges is about positive change. It is about transformation. It is about improving our lives. It is about experiencing real change in how we think, how we understand ourselves, how we feel about ourselves;
how much energy and courage we have to face new challenges.
The gift of God’s Son, who laid down His perfect life in order to rescue us from a life without God - which is ultimately, if you really, really think about it, a life without purpose and meaning.
On the front of the Toronto Star today is news about the funeral of billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman, who it appears were murdered in their home last week.
Barry wrote in his diary from 1991 that he believed that life was purposeless and meaningless without God. He wasn’t wrong.
That’s what I realized at one point when I was a lot younger as well. I didn’t believe in anything, and that led me to despair, to wanting to and then trying and nearly succeeding ending my life.
Life without God is empty. But I’m so glad that there is actually no such thing as life without God.
When I was convinced there was no God, that didn’t make God go away. He still loved me. When I believed that nothing mattered and that life was meaningless...that didn’t make it true.
It just made it seem real to me. God still loved me, and He knew me inside out and He drew me to Him, in part through a community not unlike this one.