The Feast of The Nativity of Our Lord | Christmas Eve – Luke 2



Barring the remote possibility that you just wandered in to get out of the cold,

You are here because it is Christmas.

Maybe it is your 50th, maybe your 15th,

Maybe it is your first, and I pray it is not your last.


But regardless of whether or not you know all the songs we sing tonight,

The fact that you are here at all begs the question:

What does this mean?
What does Christmas mean?

What is this all about?


For the sake of context, allow me to sum up this last year.


From North Korea,

Kim Jung-un has been recklessly antagonizing and threatening the whole world.


Our own leaders have shown themselves to be more corrupt than our imaginations.


People we used to celebrate are now mired in embarrassment and scandal.


Add to that the bombs and the knives,

And the trucks that plow over people walking down the street.

And church massacres, and the wholesale slaughter of little children,

For whom a mother’s womb is anything but safe.


Some of that may seem very far away;

But it’s not just far away.

It’s here.


Lost jobs, lost friends, lost spouses,

Broken trust, broken homes,

Crushing debt, increasing demands,

No time, no peace, and no patience.


There’s more, of course, good and bad both.

And you can fill it all in with your own experiences.

But that’s the context for the question:

What is Christmas about?

What does it mean?



That whole beautiful, familiar story you just heard from St. Luke.

Which you’ve heard year after year here in church,

And from Linus on A Charlie Brown Christmas,

Or which you heard for the first time just now…

What does it mean?


After all, we know what happened.

But why?

Why would God do this?
What could possibly be worth it?


Few parents would let their babies go play in their own yard without supervision.

So what kind of a heavenly Daddy would send His only begotten Son to us?


To let Him go play in a world like ours:

Broken and violent,

Angry and so full of hate,

Cold and dark.

Where people just disappear,

Where they are bought and sold like those animals around the manger.


What could be worth the risk?


Though He is the King of all Creation,

He’s not even born into cozy conditions.

No palace, no servants, no comfort, no bed,

But a stable, and shepherds, and manger instead.


The angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest,”

But this… truly, this is God in the lowest.

And what does it all mean?


Christmas means that God Himself has entered the fray.

Not with astonishing power and might, but in great humility and full humanity.


He who the whole universe cannot contain makes Himself small,

A baby: vulnerable, weak, and needy – like all the rest.


Christmas means that Jesus puts himself into your cause, and into your care.

It means that the God who has every right to judge the world,

Comes willingly to be judged by the world.


Christmas means that this Child puts Himself into the hands of everyone:

As the angel proclaimed, this is Good News of great joy for all people.



All people…

Kim Jung-un, and ISIS;

Herod and Hillary;

Donald and Cesar;

Garisson Keillor, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer;

The entire cast of Saturday Night Live,

Planned Parenthood, Russian Spies…and you.


Christmas means that Jesus comes to them and to you, for them and for you,

Years later, when we declare Him guilty of all our stuff,

He says, “Amen. But I’m guilty of all your stuff – and that means you’re not.”

This is the word He speaks:

From the throne of His Mother’s lap, from the throne of His cross:

“Peace on earth, and goodwill toward men”.


Maybe the song is right, and the little Lord Jesus didn’t cry a bit that first night,

As sign of the peace He came to bring.


But He did cry.

When His best friends betray him.

When Lazarus dies.

When those to whom He gives Himself will not have Him.

When on His very own birthday, He doesn’t get the one thing He wants most of all.


For you to love Him back.

For you to hold Him.

For you to have Him.

As your God, as your Brother, as your Friend, and Redeemer.


To dress Him in swaddling cloths like burial cloths – those garments rolled in blood, as Isaiah wrote.

To wrap Him up in all your sins.

And to likewise be wrapped in His righteousness and purity.


When this Child looks up at you longingly from the manger,

When he extends His reach, and hopes for your embrace,

That is what He wants:


Your grief, and your shame,

Your fear and anxiety,

Your sins, and your darkness.


They will kill you.

But this Child is Light, and all the world’s darkness cannot endure Him.

All your darkness cannot undo Him.


You are the reason for His manger.

You are the reason for His cross.


What could possibly be worth all that?

You are worth all of that.


It does not come free.

To give you everything costs Jesus everything.


And yet, Jesus doesn’t want you to try and pay Him back.

That’s not something you do with Christmas gifts.


All the Baby Jesus wants is for you to have them.

To not run away from His touch,

To not flee from His embrace,

To receive His mercy and His light,

His forgiveness and His joy,

His Christmas and His Easter

His life and His Resurrection.


If Christmas does not mean every bit of that,

Then, honestly, it doesn’t mean anything at all.

And you’d have no reason to return here tomorrow morning,

Or the Sunday after that, or every Sunday forever.

If Christmas does not mean all of that,

Then darkness is where we all stay.


But that is difficult to imagine, simply because you’re here now. You’ve been enlightened.

As the Prophet Isaiah saw long before the shepherds, and long before us:


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,

on them has light shone…


For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.




About Pastor Hopkins