Christmas Eve – Luke 2 | The Nativity of Our Lord

INI

 

“Glory to God in the highest.

and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”

 

Like so many of you this Christmas,

The angels have been waiting to sing this song.

Ever since that moment in the garden when things went so terribly wrong,

And God first promised to make them perfectly right,

The angels have been waiting in expectation to sing this hymn.

 

You can actually read the whole Old Testament that way.

Every glimpse of light in darkness;

Every broken rod of burden;

Every last person returned from exile;

Every garment rolled in blood, as Isaiah wrote –

 

Throughout the whole story of God and His people,

It is as if the angelic choir has been inhaling,

Drawing in their breath,

And shaping their lips,

To sing you this very song.

 

This song is worship and praise and glory and joy.

This song is peace.

At least, it is peace among those with whom He is pleased.

 

If you are reading between the lines, the angels’ song offers a jarring question:

With whom is God pleased?

Is He pleased with you?

How can you know?

Peace or…not peace?

 

Is God pleased with your behavior?

Maybe your attitude?

Is God pleased with your faithfulness and devotion?

Is God pleased with all the good you’ve done?

 

And what about everything else?
Is God pleased with all of that?

Is God pleased with you?

Is this song one of peace or…not peace?

When you answer those questions truthfully, you have your answer.

 

If you’re looking for a different answer from the world,

You’ll find lots in the way of approval and affirmation for pretty much anything.

You’ll find God dismissed, discarded, and disdained.

But you won’t find Him pleased.

 

Just put wars, murders, scandals, and refugees out of your mind for a moment,

Since that is what we tend to do with them –

And consider how a righteous and holy God would be pleased with the world.

Folks in the world can’t even manage to be pleased with one another;

Often, sadly, even in the Church and in families.

So…peace or…not peace?

 

Since it is Christmas, and since we are being honest…

You may not be entirely pleased with God either.

Perhaps, like the Child in the manger, He has seemed conspicuously quiet.

Perhaps, like that Child all grown up, He has said some things you’re not too fond of.

Perhaps the peace He speaks of still sounds like something else.

 

The angels know you can hear their song two ways:

So, how do you hear it?

Peace or…not peace.

 

If you want to add your own answer to their song –

An extra stanza,

One filled with those things done and undone, seen and unseen,

Then the only voice you will hear is your own.

And however good your voice may be, you are no angel.

 

If you want to join your voice with that of the world and its song:

With cries for blood and for justice, as if you knew what justice was,

Then you will hear only the world;

Because it always shouts the loudest.

 

But the angelic choir doesn’t allow for that at all.

They don’t point you to yourself or to your lists.

They don’t point you to the world – to Herod or Ceasar.

They don’t even leave it up to you to figure out whether God is pleased or not.

 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

As it was for the shepherds, so it is with you.

The answer sought by your heart is not found in your heart.

Your answer is asleep in the lap of His Mother.

Your answer, at least for tonight, is silent;

Longing only to be embraced and held close.

 

As far as answers go, that Child may not seem impressive or satisfying,

And far from glorious.

But that’s not the way the angels see it at all.

 

The angels glorify God in heaven:

“Glory to God in thehighest.”

 

But then they glorify God notin heaven, when they sing,

“And on earth…peace…among those with whom He is pleased.”

 

The Peace God offers is, in fact, among you.

Jesus, the Peace of God, is in your midst.

 

Glory to God in the highest, yes.

And in the lowest, too.

Glory to God’s Peace, made Flesh now among you.

 

And so it is that Christmas puts everything in the right order;

Even your questions.

Is God pleased with you?

If it is your first question, you’ve already found your answer.

 

But if it is your second question, that changes everything.

Your first question is this:

Is God’s Peace among us?

Is God’s Peace here with me?

Jesus is God’s Divine and Holy “Yes.”

He is God’s “Yes” to Adam and Eve and Noah and Abraham.

He is God’s “Yes” to every promise made to Israel.

Jesus is God’s “Yes” to you;

To you and all your Christmas questions:

 

Is there a God?

Can He really know me?

Can I really know Him?

Could He really love me?

Is He pleased with me?

Yes. Yes. And yes.

 

Born of a woman: Jesus has joined Himself to you in your flesh.

The Peace of God has put Himself among you, into your world, and into your cause.

As one of you, He is on your side.

 

Of course, He will not stay cute and cuddly forever.

When He grows up, He will suffer all your abuses, all of your scorn;

And all the world’s cries for blood and for justice,

They will be reckoned against Him at the cross.

Peace does not come cheap.

 

If, after all that, you insist on war with God you may still have it. You are, in fact, free.

But how pointless? When the Peace of God has come and brought peace to Men.

 

It happened, as Matthew so simply put it.

In time and space it happened.

In the backwaters of the Roman Empire,

On a night every bit like this one.

But what’s more is that it happened for you.

 

So what now?

Where will you find this Child now?

Is the Peace of God still among you?

 

You will find Him where He has promised to be:

You will find Him in His Word, where He speaks.

In the waters of Holy Baptism,

Where Jesus has bound Himself to you.

Where He has washed you into His holy family,

And given you His perfect innocence and righteousness;

His Christmas gift to you.

 

You will find Him in His Church, embodying Him to the world.

And once again tonight in His Supper;

Wrapped in Bread and Wine, and laying on the altar, and the manger of your tongue.

 

Is God pleased with you?

He’s joined Himself to you.

God can now be no less pleased with you than He is with His only-begotten Son;

With whom, you may recall, He is very well pleased.

 

On Christmas God gave us His only Son, His Divine Peace. Full, forever, and free.

And to help celebrate, the angels have given you their song.

It’s yours now. And so you can join your voices with theirs.

 

“Glory to God in the highest.

and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”

INI

About Pastor Hopkins