“Why Are We Here?”
I would like us all to think through a question. “Why are we here this evening?” I suspect there might be a lot of answers to this question, but I would like to suggest a few. Because I always come to church Christmas Eve might be one. Or perhaps you like to sing Christmas Carols or to hear those familiar words “In those days a decree went out . . . “. Or maybe you just don’t want to disappoint your mom and an hour in church is not that bad. Whatever it is I once again would like to ask that question “Why are we here?”. If we are here for someone else, it will be a long hour, if we are here for the music and they forget our favorite hymn we will be disappointed and if we are here for the message and don’t like the sermon we just might get irritated.
So I would like to take a little time and talk about our expectations this evening. We all bring expectations to this time of year, we want certain things to happen at the family dinner. It doesn’t look like it will happen this year but many of us want a white Christmas. Many of usl either expect to get something or for our gift buying to be appreciated, we want to spend time with certain people or at least get a phone call or text from them to just name a few and we have our expectations this evening. While I cannot address what brought you here this evening what we can do is look at some realistic expectations for what it means to come to this place in an attitude of prayer as we prepare ourselves to meet the Christ child.
When it comes to getting together for worship. We do bring expectations as mentioned but ultimately it should be a time when we can separate ourselves from some of the busyness of the season, some of the consumerism and even some of the family obligations so that we can look at what the gift of the Christ child looks like in our lives. Why are we here? I would suggest that we are here to experience the holy, to meet our saviour and to live in the love that God has called us to. As for the holy. Tonight in our gospel where the birth of Jesus is announced, there are angles and there is praise. The praise culminates in that heavenly chorus which proclaims “Glory to God, in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours”. There is something wonderful and joyous about God acting in our world and it brings us a sense of the holy. That realization that God walks with us as people and as humanity. It is a sacred moment and I trust that in our prayers and in our hymns that you can “touch the hem of the garment of God” so to speak and realize that the transcendent, the great mystery which is God is here with us and here in our world. As for the saviour, it recognizes the truth that our world is broken. That there is disease and dying – many of us are living with this now. It recognizes that there is war and strife – look at the state of our world, many are worried. And it recognizes that many live in fear – the message of the angels to the shepherds was “be not afraid”. The gift of Jesus is that he is meant to bring peace to all, peace to our lives, peace to our world and peace in the midst of fear. The message of love, is a message which should surround us all. That we are called to live in love and forgiveness and that we are to live the love that is found in the gift of Jesus in our midst. God acted out of a love for all of humanity when Jesus was given. A love that recognizes our brokenness and the need for God to act.
It is Christmas Eve, we are here in this beautiful setting to come together to spend time with one another, to pray, to sing and reflect. What are your expectations? I would hope that in the midst of what brought you here that you can experience the holy, open your hearts to the saviour and live in that love God has called us to.
Merry Christmas and Thanks be to God. Amen.