5 pm children's sermon is based on the story of the Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado.
10 PM is below...
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born. Amen. (Wexford Carol)
“Crowds of Americans rioting in the streets. Two opposing groups shout loudly, vying to have their messages heard and heeded. The groups meet. Confrontation ensues. Fistfights break out. Church windows are smashed. What are these rioters fighting about? Christmas. One group favors celebrating Christmas, the other opposes all Christmas observances. This isn't an imaginary event, it is history. It happened in Boston on Christmas day in 1706.” (from Paul Flesher)
The anti-Christmas group consisted largely of Congregationalists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, while the pro-Christmas group comprised mostly of Episcopalians. This didn’t happen just once in Boston. This would happen elsewhere as that new tradition began in the new USA.
“On Christmas Eve 1806, two decades after St. Peter’s RC church was built in Lower Manhattan of NYC, the building was surrounded by Protestants incensed at a celebration going on inside — a religious observance then viewed by some in the United States as an exercise in “popish superstition,” more commonly referred to as Christmas. Protesters tried to disrupt the service. In the melee that ensued, dozens were injured, and a policeman was killed.” (from NY Times)
The War on Christmas started long ago, and is still being fought by some today.
And yet, it seems to me, we spend too much worrying about it, rather than taking the message of this most Holy Night to heart. Whether others are celebrating as we wish they would, its really upon us, to heed the message and live it from our hearts into our daily lives. God challenges our hearts “to prepare him room,” to make a place for the Child of Bethlehem to transform our hearts and homes.
A rabbi prayed to the great prophet Elijah.
"Where," the rabbi asked, "shall I find the Messiah?"
"At the gate of the city," the prophet replied.
"But how shall I recognize him?"
"He sits among the lepers."
"Among the lepers!" the rabbi cried. "What is he doing there?"
"He changes their bandages," Elijah replied. "He changes their bandages, one by one."
[Rabbi Laurence Kushner.]
That is the true mystery of Christmas: that God became one of us, lived among us and came to birth through our moments of joy, grief, despair, anger and fear. Here, in the Christ Child, the sacred is not some abstract concept of theological theory: the love of God takes on a human face, the Word of God becomes human, takes on our flesh in the child Jesus, enabling us to transform our hearts in that love and re-create our world in that Word of love, compassion & hope.
The challenge of Christmas is to continue to make that love incarnate in our own lives and in the lives of those we love, to know the messiah is at work healing in our world, and wants us to join him. And he did not wait until we were ready…
First Coming by Madeleine L’Engle
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
he came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
(from The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle.)