The angels. The shepherds. The singing. Mary. Joseph. Elizabeth. Zechariah.
Listening to angels. Speaking to angels. Following angels' instructions.
Being aware of and forever transformed by the good news of great joy which is for all people.
The story is that a baby, a magnificently lowly child,
the newborn king, the prince of peace,
was to be born on this Holy Night.
How can this be?
It doesn't make sense that God would become a baby and be born.
Born of a teenaged girl claiming to still be a virgin.
Born into an occupied nation at tax time.
Born into poverty.
Born in a stable.
How can this be?
If Jesus really is God-with-us, then that affects everything, doesn't it?
God-with-us in the beginning.
God-with-us in cancer. Again.
God-with-us in job loss. Again.
God-with-us in the loss of a child.
God-with-us in the loss of a parent.
God-with-us in long-term illness.
God-with-us in the hospital.
God-with-us in the loneliness.
God-with-us in the messiness of marriage.
God-with-us in the decision to divorce.
God-with-us in the middle.
God-with-us when injustice rolls down like a mighty river.
God-with-us when the children are ill.
God-with-us when we are ill.
God-with-us when the money runs out.
God-with-us when the spouse runs out.
God-with-us in the darkness.
God-with-us in the deafening noise of life.
God-with-us when silence falls.
God-with-us when the tears won't stop flowing.
God-with-us when there are no words.
God-with-us at the end.
If Jesus really is God-with-us, then there is reason to rejoice.
That precious baby boy was
born to heal us,
born to transform us,
born to ask us questions and listen to our answers,
born to walk with us through every valley,
born to break bread with us at table,
born to invite himself to our houses for dinner,
born to release us from our fears and sins,
born to hold our hand when the healing potions drip in,
born to smile with us at the sound of children's laughter,
born to stand beside us when we bake the lasagna and the cookies,
born to applaud when we graduate,
born to sing the hymns, the anthems, and the ballads with us,
born to smile at us from across crowded rooms,
born to touch us when others deem us untouchable,
born to wait with us for the late bus after school,
born to be with us through every trial, tribulation,
born to dance with us at every victory and sing with us every song of praise,
and born to deliver us from death's grasp.
But if Jesus really is God-with-us, then that changes absolutely everything.
Then there really ought to be joy in the world.
Then this is truly a holy night.
And Christmas ought to be merry, indeed.
Merry Christmas, my friends.
And a happy new every day.