the one about letting Christmas linger...
December 25, 2019, 12:00 AM

Sermon from December 24, 2019

Text: Luke 2: 1-20

Grace and peace to each of you this the most holy of evenings. Will you pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, this evening, we get to gather together in hope and celebration of the love to come down from heaven. We get to be with one another in song and word as we remember what God has done, is doing, and will do. We get to join in with millions of other faithful sisters and brothers across the world as we raise our voices in joy and hope to our God – or Immanuel – our Lord come down – God with us.

We get to do that tonight.

I want to share a story with you. Every year as my family prepares for Christmas, we put up decorations – like most people do. A part of our decoration process is putting up numerous nativity scenes in our house. All of these have a special meaning to us. Some have been in our family for years. Some are for the girls to play with. Some have been given to us more recently.

Yet, there is one nativity set that Erin and I both love dearly. It’s beautiful and detailed. It’s bigger than all our others. It stands out.

We put it up every year. We love it.

But, here’s the thing. It’s kind of a pain to setup and put away. It isn’t heavy. But, it comes in different size boxes and we never quite remember the exact Tetris like puzzle we have to use to put them all in the same container. Mostly though, the part I really struggle with is the fact that it has a lot of Styrofoam. Lots of it.

And anyone who has Styrofoam covering their precious things knows – it never stays where it’s supposed to. It always gets everywhere.

Some years, I feel like I’m finding bits and pieces of that Styrofoam days, weeks, and months after the set has been put away.

Now, I can’t be for sure – because I don’t remember – but last year, we did something different.

As we packed up our decorations after another wonderful season of Christmas – that nativity set stayed. It sat on the top of our bookshelf all year. We dusted it occasionally, but for these past 365 days it’s been right there.

I’d like to think that it was intentionally left there to constantly remind me, my family, and all those who enter our home that we remember this love that has come down to be with us. But, truthfully? It was probably left simply because I didn’t want to deal with anymore Styrofoam this past year.

But, looking at it now – especially as we moved closer and closer to this Christmas Eve it got me thinking.

There are two Christmases that the world celebrates. There’s the one that begins around Thanksgiving Day (but, seems to get pushed closer and closer to Halloween every year). That Christmas where everyone is singing jingles, buying presents, going to parties, sending cards, and eating wonderful food. That’s a good Christmas. I love that Christmas too. I’m not knocking that Christmas.

But, that Christmas ends pretty quickly. Once the presents are unwrapped. Once the calendar flips to the 26th, it all gets packed up. You’ll get whiplash if you’ve been enjoying the movies and songs – because those stop pretty abruptly. Everything goes back (mostly) to every day, normal, programming.

When the 25th ends, that Christmas is over. As wonderful as it is, it doesn’t stick around very long.

But, there’s another Christmas. The one we begin to remember this night. That Christmas doesn’t end. It lingers. It stays. It settles in for the long haul.

That Christmas with a soon-to-be married couple; a pregnant teenager, and her older fiancé.

That one sticks around.

Why? Because it involves life – new life. It involves hope. It emanates love.

Anyone who has had children, adopted a child, fostered children, or cares for children will tell you – kids stick around. There’s no ‘putting them away.’ Even if you want to from time to time. There’s no packing them up, there’s no putting them back in their original packing. Much like we do with all those decorations.

Life, just doesn’t work like that.

Our God doesn’t work like that. This in-breaking – this tearing of the heavens to be with all of creation – doesn’t do that.

It lingers, this new life. This new child. This one who has come down.

The box has been opened and there is nothing that can be done to put it back in there. No matter how much at times we want to.

It stays. It is here.

Why? Because the Christmas we celebrate, this Christmas that lingers involves new life.

For that is what we are given this day, that is what we celebrate this evening. We celebrate this new life that has come down to be with us. We celebrate this new life that grows with us. We remember this new life that calls to us. We are invited in to a life of deep faith by this new life. All of us – all of creation – is redeemed and saved by this new life.

This Immanuel. This God with us. This one. This child.

I think we’re going to continue to leave that nativity scene up. Partly because I don’t want to deal with stray Styrofoam for the foreseeable future. But, I think now, I can faithfully and confidently say – that nativity is going to stay so that I, and my family, and all who enter our home can remember – this Christmas we celebrate lingers. This new life stays with us. This God – Our God – has come down in love to be with us. And you can’t pack that up. Because it isn’t a decoration.

Why wouldn’t you want that to linger? Why wouldn’t you want that to stick around?

Remember that every day. Remember that love for you and for all the world every day.

Let Christmas linger. Because it does. And the more we let it linger and sit with us, the more we are called by this One. The more we are invited by this One into a life of faith that just might change us.

This one who reminds us that we are enough. We are loved. We are not alone. And when we know that gift, when we experience that hope?

We tend to share that with those around us.

So, let this Christmas linger. Let this new life that has come and is to come be with you.

May this new life walk with you. Gather us together. Hold us accountable. Invite us into love. Care for the world and all who call it home. May this Child – this God – this messiah – linger and stick in our lives and may that enduring life change us for and in love. Always.

Amen.

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