on Christmas Eve, 2021, at All Saints, King City, Anglican Diocese of
Toronto. Lessons: Is 9:2-7; Ps 96; Tit
2:11-14; Lk 2:1-14.
And suddenly there was with the angel a
multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “
peace among those whom he favors!” (Lk 2:13-14)
This Christmas Eve, in the second year of the pandemic,
may seem diminished to those of us who were hoping for more: more reunions with friends and family, more
travel, more guests around the Christmas table. We can take some comfort that we can gather
together tonight for worship, a welcome step forward from last year’s Zoom Christmas
Eve, even as we miss those of our parish family who can’t gather with us
tonight. Whatever your disappointments, whatever your
fatigue at the end of this exhausting and unnerving year, take heart and take
comfort from knowing that God is with us.
God is with us.
Isn’t that the distilled message of Christmas? All through Advent we have heard the promise
that God will come, a promise given to unlikely, ordinary people. Tonight, in the old hymns and nativity
stories, we hear that promise fulfilled.
Tonight relives us of our anxieties and small griefs that Covid has
deprived us of a proper Christmas.
Tonight, we are reminded that Christmas is not something we do
ourselves. Christmas is God’s,
Christmas is God’s love and abiding friendship and love, and Christmas comes to
us and for us. Tonight, heaven touches
the earth, and especially those places that are darkened, sad, and lonely. God is with us.
The nativity story from Luke’s gospel reminds
us of who God particularly favours. In a
world run by emperors and kings, God arrives in a humble stable. Outside the royal city of Bethlehem, angels
are sent, not to comfortable, prosperous homes and palaces, but to shepherds in
a dark field. The good news of God’s favour
is announced to all creation, to all humanity, and especially to those who need
God most. As the biblical scholar SarahHenrich puts it, “Heaven and
earth meet in obscure place The light came in those dark fields and that dim
room in Bethlehem because God longs, has always longed, for us to know and love
Tonight this message of good news comes to
those in lockdown and isolation. Heaven
and earth continue to meet in obscure places, in nursing homes where residents
are unable to see loved ones and great grandchildren, in hospitals where
exhausted staff take their short breaks.
Heaven and earth continue to meet in obscure places, in the shelters and
meager encampments of the homeless, in remote First Nations, and in lonely
fields where the graves of residential school children wait to be
discovered. Heaven and earth continue to
meet in obscure places, in the frontlines of Ukraine and Ethiopia and Taiwan
and every other place where strong men bluster and threaten war. Heaven and earth meet in our homes, even if
they are not as festive or crowded as we would like them to be.
Tonight we are reminded that God loves us, God
favours us, and God’s peace is given to us.
May this good news comfort us, may this gift of God’s fill our hearts
and give us peace and strength, whatever this new year may bring us. Take heart and be joyful, my friends, for
heaven and earth meet tonight.