“Has there ever been a time in your life when something happened, and in that moment you thought: Nothing in my life will ever be the same again? I think there are, surprisingly, many different moments like this. It could have been the moment that you met a loved one. It could have been the moment that you lost a loved one. It could have been the moment that you first got a taste of something that would become your life’s work…. I think each one of us knows that shimmering sensation of realizing: Suddenly, everything has changed.”
Sermon Preached: Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021 at Trinity on the Green
Christmas Day 2: Isaiah 62:6-12 | Psalm 97 | Luke 2:8-20
May I speak in the name of Emmanuel, God with Us. Amen.
Has there ever been a time in your life when something happened, and in that moment you thought: Nothing in my life will ever be the same again?
I think there are, surprisingly, many different moments like this. It could have been the moment that you met a loved one. It could have been the moment that you lost a loved one. It could have been the moment that you first got a taste of something that would become your life’s work. It could be having a child or moving; it could be a moment of self-revelation or conversion; it could be any number of these things! And yet I think each one of us knows that shimmering sensation of realizing: Suddenly, everything has changed.
Everything I’ve listed, up to this point, have been personal milestones. But I think there are times in our lives when we have collective revelations too, that give us that same feeling of change. Perhaps it was the moment when the first human set foot on the moon. Perhaps it was 9/11, and the fallout of those terrorist attacks over twenty years ago. Perhaps you had this feeling around the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, or in the moment when George Floyd was and killed at the hand of a police officer. There are all kinds of events in our lives that can signal this profound insight: Nothing in my life, or life as we know it, will ever be the same again.
This morning I invite you to pick one of those moments, any one at all. Remember how it made you feel, whether it held emotions of uncertainty and fear, or relief and joy. Think about that moment, and hold it in your heart.
Whatever you are thinking of, right now, however important that may be, consider this: that event is small, in comparison to the moment when Christ was born into this world.
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this fact. It’s hard because I wasn’t there, in Bethlehem at the manger. I wasn’t out in the fields with the shepherds, blinded by a star and a whole host of angels. As long as I have been a thinking person, some part of me has always known that these events took place. I heard Christmas stories about it as a kid, and took them for granted. As a result, it has never been a surprise to me that Jesus was born, God incarnate, into this world – even if it took some time for me, as an adult, to embrace and believe in these things. It still was never a surprise that at one point in history, God became human.
This statement doesn’t surprise me – and yet maybe it should. Maybe it should surprise all of us, with wonder and awe. Maybe it should give all of us that tingling sensation in our bones that nothing, in heaven or on earth, will ever be the same again. This is, perhaps, the most important event in history – the basis on which the rest of Jesus’ ministry, his life, death, and resurrection, is built. It is the moment God became human. Without this moment, I would not be a Christian. I would not be a Christian if I did not believe that God chose to be human, to enter into our human life. And once God became human and lived among us, a part of God’s presence in this world never left, and we are forever changed. We are forever living in a world in which God has walked among us, and has never forsaken us since.
This single event does not take away from the significance of all the other events in our lives. It does not diminish our joy or our pain; it does not deny the reality of wonderful or terrible things that we have faced in the past. The birth of Jesus does not detract from any of these things because it impacts all of these things. When God became human, God entered our lives once and for always. And so whatever moments we face now when we think, Wow, my life will never be the same again – God is in those moments. God is in our joy and in our pain. In our highest highs and our lowest lows. And that is why the day when Jesus was born surpasses all the others. It surpasses all the others because it contains all the others. Because of the Nativity of our Lord, God is still with us – every day of our lives.
We celebrate this holiday, Christmas, every year. But do we really understand it? Do we understand that we are retelling the story of a moment in history when suddenly, everything changed?
Think again about those other moments in your life that give you a small taste of this feeling. Imagine that that is what Christmas is all about. Give thanks that God became human – to live, and die, and walk alongside each one of us. Share this story with others, with the same kind of wonder as the shepherds out in the field. Celebrate this Christmas morning with the sure and certain hope that God became human – and God is still with us. Because: Suddenly, everything has changed. Amen.