Summary: Once each year, Christmas comes around again to remind us that God's Son has come to earth...and now we must do the singing! He came to earth to save us and reconcile us to the God who made us and loves us.
Well, it's all over with. The weeks of preparation, the four weeks of Advent, the pageants and concerts, the shopping, gift-wrapping, delivering, waiting for loved ones to come...it's all over, and the celebrations can begin. There's no better way to celebrate this joyous night than by singing. In fact, there is an ancient legend about the angel chorus that is mentioned in tonight's Gospel reading.
One day, God called the angels of heaven together for a special choir rehearsal. He told them he had a special song he wanted them to learn..a song they would sing at a very special occasion. The angels went to work on it. They rehearsed long and hard...with great focus and intensity. In fact, some of the angels grumbled a bit...but God insisted on a very high standard for his choir.
As time passed, the choir improved in tone, in rhythm, and in quality. Finally God announced that they were ready...but then he shocked them a bit. He told them that they would sing the song only once...and only on one night. There would be just one performance of this great song they had worked on so diligently. Again, some of the angels grumbled. The song was so extraordinarily beautiful and they had it down pat now...surely, they could sing it many, many times. God only smiled and told them that when the time came, they would understand.
Then one night, God called them together. He gathered them above a field just outside of Bethlehem. "It's time," God said to them..and the angels sang their song. O my, did they sing it! "Glory to God in the highest...and on earth peace and good will toward all..." And as the angels sang, they knew there would never be another night like this one.
When the angels returned to heaven, God reminded them that they would not formally sing that song again as an angelic choir, but if they wanted to, they could hum the song occasionally as individuals. One angel was bold enough to step forward and ask God why. Why could they not sing that majestic anthem again? They did it so well. It felt so right. Why couldn't they sing that great song anymore? "Because," God explained, "my son has been born...and now earth must do the singing!"
Once each year, Christmas comes around again to remind us that God's Son has come to earth...and now we must do the singing! He came to earth to save us and reconcile us to the God who made us and loves us. We need to be set right with God and we need to be right with other people.
It is more blessed to give than to receive, but tonight we are blessed with the greatest gift of all-the gift of Christ's arrival as a baby in the manger. Babies are like Christ in that they are both innocent. Christ was sin-free, but he made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. God reached out through Christ to embrace a sinful, hurting world. Luke wants us to ponder the events of this night to find ourselves full of wonder, to consider the possibility that we, too, might glorify and praise God for all we have experienced because of the life of Christ child.
Most of us have attended several parties this season, but Christ has given us the most important invitation of the season-one from God with an RSVP. God made Christmas for us, but we have to make our Christmas. All the salvation of God is finished, but it isn't ours until we claim it. What we see and what we hear depends not on the event but upon ourselves. We have two kingdoms to choose from-God's and the world's. The world's kingdom is full of material wealth and material goods; whereas God's kingdom is represented by the shepherds. They had no time to worry about prestige and power. Their emphasis was on serving and caring. Christ's life is a good example of God's kingdom-an example for all of us tonight. God humbled himself out of love for us. We must humble ourselves out of love for God and our fellow man. This love takes many forms, including serving the poor, the lonely, the oppressed and the less fortunate.
When God humbled himself by becoming human, every human being became someone. Everyone has a name, everyone has value, identity and dignity. Everyone can have a Saviour-all of this because of the baby born in Bethlehem. God has been at work in both ordinary and extraordinary events of life, creating places where we can encounter God in real, powerful, transformational ways. We find God in the worst kind of places on earth-lowly mangers, the poor, the lowly, the oppressed and those who care for them.
Christmas can only be experienced through the eyes of faith. Only then can we look beyond our immediate world and see that God is here, and He is for everyone. The Gospel reading we heard earlier tonight is good news for tough times, and it is just as hopeful and meaningful today as it was on that first Christmas Eve. God entered into time and space on that first Christmas Eve. He became human in Jesus Christ. He came into human life.