Summary: Christmas Eve 11am 2011

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Luke 2: 1 – 20 / In Those Days

Intro: Christmas is a WASTEFUL time! Think about it! What do you normally do with all the Christmas cards you receive after the holiday? What do you do with the wrapping paper you used to wrap your gifts once it has been torn open? Not to mention the paper plates, paper napkins, glass wine or beer bottles, soda cans and other trappings used to celebrate. CHRISTMAS IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME; IT IS A WASTEFUL TIME!

I. Besides being a “wasteful time” what is the perfect Christmas all about?

A. For most of our culture, Christmas is a nice time of year when we get off from work, out of school, and follow our cultural and family traditions.

B. We hear different phrases for what Christmas is all about: “Giving is what Christmas is all about.” “Helping the unfortunate is what Christmas is all about.” Holidays, Santa Claus, family, is for our culture, what Christmas is all about.

C. If you are more cynical, you may think it is about a good retail season: it is about the frenzied, frazzled shopper. It is about spending more and getting more. It is about getting just the right gift, somehow we’ll have happiness and peace and joy and good will towards all. Then, we will appreciate our lives and each other more.

II. For some people, Christmas means being at home, celebrating with family and friends.

A. Yet, being HOME for Christmas for many just isn’t possible: employers don’t give enough time off to travel the distance required, they don’t have the $ to fly or drive or they serve in the military and are far from home.

B. The nostalgic Christmas song, “I’ll be home for Christmas”. . . You can count on me. . . . I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” For many, it is just that, A DREAM!

C. Research tell us that over half million people over the age of 75 will spend Christmas day home alone.

III. What is Christmas all about?

A. Perhaps this Christmas Eve you face challenges that are bigger than you. You are in a battle that you don’t have the strength to win on your own. We live in an insecure world. Neither certainty nor safety exist, even though we spend our lives trying to find both. We look to the government, or our employer, or our investments, or our relationships --- and none of them can provide us with the security we need. The things we turn to most often simply don’t have the ability to offer true security.

B. We don’t live in a peaceful world. Most people don’t have inner peace, and you only have to glance at the headlines to remind yourself that external peace is a rarity.

C. What we forget at Christmas is that in those days, the days surrounding the birth of Christ Jesus, with each step, Mary and Joseph were moving further and further away from home as they made the journey to register with a foreign government. Are we surprised to remember that Mary and Joseph had to make a home where no home existed.

Conclu: How fitting that we celebrate the Lord’s Supper today! Here at this table, we remember that God became one of us, we remember how Christ Jesus still joins us at this table. We remember how we are fed by him in order that we might live as his body in the world. --- It is this mystery that we celebrate on Christmas Eve, a mystery that reaches beyond even what we read in Luke. The birth of Jesus is an in-breaking of the holy, as is his presence at this Table, and each and every day, it is a mystery for which we can respond only with our thanks and praise.

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