Welcome to worship for this Christmas Eve, December 24th, 2022! We are filled with joy to celebrate together the birth of the Christ child in our midst!
The bulletin for this service can be found here. The bulletin will have everything that we normally have in the bulletins with the added bonus of the lyrics to the hymns. But as usual all the words you need to know will also be on your screen and the sermon is included on this page below the worship video.
For an enhanced worship experience, you may have some candles lit in your space, but also a taper of some sort ready to light for the reading of John 1:1-14 and for the singing of Silent Night. This will aid in our sense of connectedness and togetherness even when we are physically in different spaces.
May God’s love come down be present with you throughout this season and always!
Loving God, by the light of your Spirit shining in the darkness, open our hearts and minds to see and feel you present among us, with us, and for us, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.
Not that many years ago, we gathered together for a Christmas Eve service much like this one, and there was snow on the ground. I remember the sermon that I preached that day was about how much I hated the snow, how I hated the driving around on messy roads, and how I especially hated the shovelling. Oh, the shovelling. And now, here we are again, on another Christmas Eve with snow on the ground, and I am so tempted to just use that same sermon again. But I won’t (not like anyone would notice or saying anything even if they did), because I’m not really the “reuse a Christmas Eve sermon” kind of guy. 24th Sunday after Pentecost sermon maybe, but not Christmas Eve.
But it’s hard not to have all this snow on the ground on our minds, is it. I mean, the snow is pretty concerning, especially if you watched or heard the news at all in the past few days. They were making this weather event out to be like the worst the Lower Mainland has ever seen. Bridges were closed, people were told to avoid going out, and snow blowers were flying off the shelves even at full retail price. I remember going to sleep Thursday night sort of biting my nails because I wasn’t sure what Friday morning would bring, and I was on snow clearing duty here at the church. And while we have a plethora of tools to make the job easier, it’s still quite a job.
Now, I want to make it clear that this isn’t the same sermon that I mentioned earlier, because in that one I was talking about how much I hated shovelling snow. But this year the shovelling wasn’t so bad, as again we have the snowblower and stuff that actually makes it kind of fun. So don’t think that I’m complaining about having to clear the snow whatsoever. I just bring it up because while I was shovelling away, I had a lot of time to think. Like a LOT of time, as I said, it’s quite the job (still not complaining though).
Among all the things I was able to think about, I kept coming back to this sermon, and wondered what on earth could I say if I don’t reuse that other sermon about the snow? But then I thought, isn’t it weird how often we’ve been getting heavy snowfalls these past few years? Like, this is what, the third or fourth “white Christmas” in recent history? I know it’s not super rare for us here in the Lower Mainland, but it also isn’t really common, or at least it wasn’t before. I remember laughing at a classmate in elementary school who said that it always snows on Christmas because at point in my life, I was in grade 4 or 5, I hadn’t experienced a single snowy Christmas yet. Usually we don’t see any snow until January or maybe even February, and even then it’s usually a couple flurries and they’re melted and gone by the next morning.
So to get all this snow in such a short period of time this year, I don’t know, it was a bit concerning for me. Pair that with the heat waves we’ve been getting every year for the past few years as well? Looks like climate change to me.
Now, I’m not trying to make this a political thing or blame anyone or anything or any party for what is happening to this planet, I’m just saying that it’s happening. It’s undeniable, the world is changing. Weather has been getting more severe at least in this small part of the world that I’ve called home my whole life, and I actually pay attention to weather patterns and stuff because I find it really interesting ever since I was a kid, so trust me when I say that I can tell that things are different now.
So yeah, this worries me a little. I mean, my wife and I brought 3 human beings in the world, and what kind of world will they end up with after we’re gone? How about their kids? Again, I’m not saying that this is change is our fault, but I wonder if we doing what we can to ensure that it actually isn’t.
I know what you might be thinking, “I wish he just reused that sermon from a few years ago,” because I’ll admit, this is kind of depressing stuff. Not exactly your typical Christmas Eve sermon, that’s for sure. Normally there is talk about peace and joy and glad tidings and all that kind of stuff, not doom and gloom and weeping and gnashing of teeth stuff.
But it seems like in our world today, this doom and gloom is unavoidable. Everywhere we turn it seems like there’s a new protest, a new evil uncovered, a new thing to complain about and try to cancel. If it isn’t climate change, it’s the government. If it isn’t the government, it’s the celebrities. If it isn’t the celebrities, it’s the regular people. And so on and so forth. It is depressing.
At the same time, while our world now seems to be in shambles, hasn’t it always been like this? I mean, we didn’t start this fire, looking at human history it looks like it was always burning since the world was turning. Every generation in our recorded history has faced some kind of catastrophic events, each one seemingly worse than the last, and every one of them signalling the end of the world.
Sigh, now we’re really in the doom and gloom. What does this have to do with Christmas?
Well, while we are facing this broken world, so did those of Jesus’ time. While we might be thinking that the world is ending, such was the mentality of Mary and Joseph and their peers. While we might feel stuck in a world climate not of our doing, I’m pretty sure the shepherds watching their flock by night felt the same exact way.
And in that brokenness, in the doom and gloom, in that blame game, God showed up. God entered the world and into our lives. God appeared among us as a newborn baby and lit up the sky with angels, filled our lives with songs of praise and peace, and poured hope and love into our hearts and showed us all that even when the going gets tough and impossible, God hasn’t, doesn’t, and will never leave us but remains with us. With us in spirit, with us in community, with us through us.
I know, this doesn’t necessarily take away all the troubles that we face, it doesn’t fix our problems, it doesn’t magically melt all the snow or revert the climate to what it once was. But it does remind us that in our troubles and problems and various things out of our control, we are not alone but God is with us, strengthening us and leading us into peace, joy, and hope.
Still, it doesn’t often seem like it. It might not have seemed like it for Mary and Joseph as they travelled from city to city, country to country, and giving birth in a barn. It probably didn’t seem like that for the shepherds who went back to the fields and their regular jobs after this strange episode in their lives. So I think it’s ok for us to sometimes gloss over it and forget.
But every now and then, we can be reminded of it. Maybe not by a bunch of angels shining with the glory of God or a newborn baby promised to be the Messiah, but maybe in a neighbour helping you shovel. Maybe in the joyous faces of children laughing and playing in the snow. Maybe in a community gathered together on a holy night to again see the face of God in each other and celebrate together the hope graciously given to us. However it happens, it might be surprising, it might be unexpected, it might be almost unnoticeable until maybe a couple weeks later, but it will be glorious.
My friends, we’re here this night to remember the birth of our Lord. We anticipate the morning where we continue with our customs and traditions and different ways we might welcome God into our lives. We look ahead to this upcoming New Year and we have hope that while life can be truly difficult, we can be strengthened by God with us, in us, and through us, now and forever.
This is the promise of Christmas. This is the reason we celebrate. This is why we, as children of God, can be filled with the abundant love and grace that surpasses understanding, leaning on the everlasting arms that bring us into all hope, peace, and joy, this season and always. Thanks be to God. Amen.