Sunday, December 20. 2015
Text: Luke 1:26-55
The little boy came racing down the hall, bursting with pride in the beautiful little ceramic tray he had made in Sunday School – his mother’s Christmas present! In his haste, he tripped and the tray went flying. It landed in several pieces and the little boy was inconsolable in his grief.
Well-meaning adults who had seen the unfortunate accident or who were attracted by the boy’s sobbing, were full of sage advice for the little fellow: “He son, it was just a tray. It was not worth all this fuss. You can make another one. You can always buy your mother a better present. Hush now. Big boys don’t cry. Don’t worry about it.” Like the friends who attempted to comfort Job in his distress, their arguments were unconvincing and the little continued to wail.
Finally, his mother appeared on the scene. She knelt beside him, taking stock of the tragedy as she wrapped him in her arms. As his sobs subsided, she was able to say, “Well, now I think this we can fix this, honey. Let’s pick up the pieces and take it all home. We’ll glue it back together and it will be good as new.” You could have lit the whole world with the beam from his face, a reflection of his mother’s love.
In commenting on this tale, James Moore says, “Isn’t that exactly what the Christmas message is all about? The world is broken into many fragments, as are our lives. And God stoops down beside us. He hugs us and says, “Well, now, this is fixable. Let me help you pick up the pieces. We’ll put it back together and see what we can make of it!” (James W. Moore, Let Us Go Over to Bethlehem, p. 36).
Love came down at Christmas. First it appears in the guise of Gabriel, announcing to a young peasant girl that she is going to have a baby. As a an unmarried virgin, she is astonished at the news. She starts to protest when it suddenly sings in that this amazing heavenly being has just called her “favored one.” What can this mean? As though reading her mind, the angel assures her that she has found favor with God and that the child she will bear will be very special. And not only she, but her elderly relative, Elizabeth, is also pregnant with a special child. In the end, Mary is overwhelmed with the wonder of it all and her overflowing heart sings out, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Mary makes the right response. Her heart is young and receptive, open and eager for the gift that God gives. Love came down at Christmas and Mary was ready.
Remember the Grinch, the one who supposedly stole Christmas? The moral of that delightful tale is that Christmas cannot be stolen if it truly lives in our hearts. Moore, again, in commenting on that story says, “The point is clear: if the Christ Child is born in your heart, no one can steal your Christmas! For you see, the real joy of Christmas is not in material presents (nice as they are); no, it is in receiving the only gift of Christmas that really matters, the gift of God’s love in Jesus Christ the gift that was wrapped in heaven” (Moore, op. cit., p. 44).
In her lovely Christmas poem, Christina Rosetti, in another place and time, asks “Worship we our Jesus, but where is God’s sacred sign?” Where are angels apparent? Where are miracles made on earth? Where does the holy inhabit our flesh bringing new life? How does God speak to her generation or to ours?
Rosetti’s poem goes on to answer her question with the affirmation that “Love shall be our token; love be yours and mine; Love to God and neighbor, love for plea and gift and sign.” Isn’t this what we see as a mother kneels beside her broken-hearted child or Mary kneels beside the manger, pondering all these things deep in her heart of hearts – prophecy fulfilled, promises kept, hearts healed, lives renewed, God in flesh appearing? What more can we ask? Isn’t it this very love that transforms life, that brings peace to earth and good will to all people, that turns the world right side up?
Again and again love comes down at Christmas. Will we be ready, receptive, open, eager like a little boy or a young girl to receive the gift? “How silently, how silently The wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts The blessings of God’s heaven. No ear may hear Christ’s coming, But in this world of sin, [of estrangement from the God who made us and loves us with unstoppable love] Where meek hearts will receive him still, the Christ child enters in.”
In all the frantic activity of what we call THE HOLIDAYS, are we ready for the ultimate gift, the gift of God come so near we can’t even hear but only sense the presence in our own heart of hearts? Love comes down at Christmas. Can you feel it?