Scripture for Christmas Eve below:
Since I have two children who are at that age that you might call Almost-ready-for-Harry-Potter, I have recently re-read the first few chapters of the first novel. You might remember it if you are one of the kajillions of people who have read them….strange people begin showing up here and there. There were people in robes with moons on them standing on street corners. A man is sure she sees a cat read a MAP. A flock of owls goes through a city. Random fireworks shoot off from streetlamps! There are shooting stars in the middleof the day! It’s crazy! no one knows what is going on, until we are let in on a secret…..the bad guy is dead. There’s nothing to be afraid of anymore. And although his parents died during the battle, a mother’s love saved one boy from the bad guy’s rage and power. And so this world, that we don’t always see, that us ordinary people are sort of shielded from, was so happy and so excited and so amazed that this child was born and that evil was gone from their world that a few cosmic things leaked out. A bit of this world showed to the ordinary people, and they were dazzled by it.
Do you remember what that chapter was called? It was called “The Boy Who Lived.”
Christmas seems to be a lot like this Harry Potter chapter sometimes. Especially this year, because this year, maybe you noticed, there was a FULL MOON right before Christmas. In my house, it was a little chaotic. Add in Christmas programs at school and a decent amount of sugar, and children quit sleeping and start bouncing off of things….I mean, maybe that wasn’t your house, but it was sure mine! We woke up….we were going to set an alarm but we couldn’t sleep….but we couldn’t quite see the moon because of the cloud cover. The sky was a weird color, I will tell you that nobody in my family slept well, and it just seemed like there was SOMETHING going on. When I sleepily went to the hospital the next morning to visit someone, there were people having babies there right and left! I saw a couple walking VERY slowly down the hallway with the woman holding on to a big belly and breathing, let’s say, heavily. I got on the elevator with a super excited pair of grandparents who were practically jumping up and down with anticipation, and on my way out I almost bumped into an entire family with pink balloons, still in their pajamas, running in to see this new baby! It was as if the whole world had gone a little crazy the night before, and we were still trying to catch up, us ordinary people, drinking our coffee, sort of in shock at all these things going on around us.
Like with Harry Potter, we love the stories, but we’re not really supposed to believe that there’s magic all around us. We’re not supposed to believe in this modern world that something like a full moon, like an eclipse, like a cosmic event, would affect us. But they do. It’s like something makes us all a little crazy, a little willing to believe anything, willing to wake up in the middle of the night and just sort of GAZE at the wonder of it all. It’s something mysterious that affects even very pregnant women….people who are ready to have a baby, and then that full moon kicks things into high gear. Clearly, there’s SOMETHING going on, even if we don’t understand it all, even if it seems chaotic and crazy or even painful at the time….something beautiful is starting to happen! Something beautiful is about to be born. It’s like heaven is letting us get a little glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes in this beautiful universe, that behind all the everyday struggle, day in, day out, the chaos and the pain, that there’s something ELSE, something magical, something beautiful behind it all.
I think Jesus’ world was like that too. The world that Jesus was born into wasn’t perfect…in fact, it was pretty crazy. Maybe they didn’t rush around in cars and check their phones every five seconds, but not THAT much has changed. Mary and Joseph had to take a trip at a very inconvenient time. VERY inconvenient. This new ruler had decided that the government was going to count everybody, and since they couldn’t check in online, they had to make the trip to get counted in person. What a giant pain! It makes our standing in lines and sleepless nights and school activities seem like nothing in comparison! Riding all the way there on a donkey, not finding any vacancy, and then going in labor? It must have seemed like the world was conspiring against them to make it the WORST VACATION EVER for Mary and Joseph.
And yet. And yet. When Jesus was born, it was like heaven went a little crazy, because they knew that this boy who would live would live FOREVER, and evil wouldn’t just die until book six or seven, but FOREVER. It might rear its ugly head, but they knew it wouldn’t have the last word, and even though angels are supposed to be anonymous and quiet and have only one message for one person, they could not keep from letting all the ordinary people hear all about it that night. Regular shepherds, drinking their coffee, gazing up at the giant star, the angel’s song ringing in their ears, wondering if they REALLY heard what they thought they heard? Regular people, Mary and Joseph, watching as people they had never seen before came not just to adore the baby, as we would for any baby, but to WORSHIP him! And that giant star, that cosmic event that no one could explain, guiding people for years to follow it to find the One who lived, the one who still lives, the one who came to save his people, to save US, Jesus, Emmanuel, God WITH us.
May God, who has called you out of darkness to be servants of light, grant you the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, and the peace of the Christ Child. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.