Summary: A Christmas Eve Sermon addressing those who would like to be someplace else.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Three In One who is born this day.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Is there any place that you would rather be on Christmas Eve?
I remember when I was growing up, Christmas Eve was always a night filled with joyous expectation….and a feeling that I needed to get out of there as soon as possible. You see, in the Winters’ household, we had a tradition where we would go home and the kids got to choose one of those presents under the tree to open up. You had to choose wisely. Then afterwards we would stuff our faces at a great feast with the neighbors. Yes, growing up, there were places that I would rather be.
So I understand if you’re feeling that way this Christmas Eve. Maybe there is a Christmas present under the tree calling out to you and you’re just itching to get to it. Maybe there’s a party that you’re about to go to. Maybe there’s something else calling to you, like a Christmas movie marathon on TV.
Maybe you are wishing that you were someplace else entirely. Some of us have guests in town that may make us wish that we could get away and go someplace else. Some of us are missing a few people around the tree this year, maybe for the first time, and we would really like to go to where they are. And some of us are just looking back to the Christmases of our childhoods and wondering if there is any way that we can go back to that time when our Christmases were filled with fantasy and joy.
That first Christmas, Mary and Joseph were probably thinking there were places they would rather be. A census had been decreed and Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary had to trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
That must have seemed just about par for the course that year. It had been a year that would have made many of us wish we could go someplace else. Mary had become a mother with the outrageous claim that the child she bore was the Holy Spirit’s. Joseph had to make decisions about if he could marry this girl and make it look like they had jumped the gun on the marriage bed – or if he would have to divorce…and how would he go about doing that?
And now, having made the decisions that they did, they end up in Bethlehem, Mary going into labor contractions and the only place they can find is a stable connected to a cave. I’m no expert on birth, but I imagine that if you would have asked Mary that evening if there was any place that she would rather be – she probably could have thought of a few places.
Every year it seems, we catch ourselves saying “Christmas snuck up on me this year.” We may have had all the presents wrapped and under the tree for three weeks now. We may have had our Christmas tree up since Thanksgiving Day, but we’re still saying Christmas snuck up on us this year. Something doesn’t feel right. We’re not quite prepared. And we start to think that if we were just someplace else, or we had done something else – we would be prepared for the magic of Christmas.
On Christmas Eve of 1906, off the coast of Massachussets, ships carrying sailors that would have liked to be someplace else than a boat on Christmas Eve received a message from the coast in morse code. “CQ….CQ” it said, indicating that an important message was coming. Radio operators listened closely to their headsets and then must have jerked back in surprise at what they heard, a human voice on the other end reading Luke the second chapter. It was the first broadcast of a human voice.
The shock that befell those sailors that night was probably the same kind of shock that the shepherds felt watching their sheep when the Angel of the Lord said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news….”
It was something completely different. It took what they had in mind for that evening and wiped it away. Suddenly, their lives were different. Suddenly, it didn’t matter where they were.
And probably at the same time, Mary and Joseph were hearing a voice that would become familiar to them for the very first time. They were hearing the cries and coos of their first born son, Jesus.
It is that voice which makes this night. It is that voice that speaks a special message into your life. It is that voice that says, “There is someplace else that I would rather have you. I would rather have you with me in eternity. We have to start it now, in this imperfect place, but because I’m here now – it’s someplace different. Everything has changed.”