Bring the bag with Candy Canes. Bring Angel Wings..
Hi everyone! I’m so glad you are here today.
So we’ve been learning a little bit about Jesus’ story and we’ve filled up this scene, which is sometimes called a nativity or a creche. And so let’s review: who is here? Mary. Joseph. Angels. Jesus. Animals. Very good! And this moment is what we’re celebrating today – Jesus Christ is born, becoming God’s present for everyone.
So for this Christmas Eve worship service, I want to focus a bit on the beginning of the story we just heard. And at the very start, we met this. Who is this? The Angel. The angel is named Gabriel. This angel comes down from heaven and visits someone. Who does the angel visit? Mary. Right! The angel has a special message for Mary and can’t wait to tell her. So the angel comes down and the first thing the angel does is show up, surprise Mary, and say: “Rejoice, favored one! God is with you.”
Now…let’s imagine that scene for a moment. Scripture doesn’t tell us what the angel looks like so we can to use your imagination to imagine what it happened. So let’s imagine the Angel Gabriel for a minute. Do we imagine the angel to be small? Large? Did the angel have these (wings)? Did the angel fly? Was the angel bright and looked like it was on fire?
Do you think Mary ever saw an angel before? Nope! I think we can imagine what she felt like when the angel showed up if we imagine what would happen if an angel showed up to us. So, if you were in your room or in your house, and you were all alone, playing and having fun and then BOOM – out of nowhere, an angel shows up. How would that make you feel? Afraid. Scared. Nervous. Affirm all answers.
I would be afraid. And I think Mary was too.
So the angel here is trying to make Mary feel less afraid. So he starts their conversation by saying: “Hello.” But the angel doesn’t say hello like we would. The angel doesn’t say “Hi” or “hey” or “hello” or “sup?” The angel says…. REJOICE (say that part loud). “Rejoice, favored one! God is with you.” The angel immediately tells Mary that she is special, that God knows her, that God cares for her, that God loves her, and that God is with her. He is telling her, in that moment, that she will be okay – because God will never let her go.
And you know what? Because God is with her, because Jesus is a big part of her life, Mary sort of changes here. She’s no longer just Mary. Rather, she’s now God’s beloved. She’s now a child of God. She’s now the One God cares for and will be with always. Even in those moments that are scary, or sad, or strange, God promises to be with us, no matter what. Jesus promises to show up and hold us, comfort us, and help us get through whatever we are going through. And because Jesus is with us, we can face difficult things, scary things, trying things – and know that even in the moments we are afraid and full of fear, Jesus is right there, helping us through.
The angel’s greeting is a powerful one and the angel promises that God is a part of her life. So now, look around at everyone up here – and everyone out there. All of us have God and Jesus in our life. That doesn’t mean we always feel Jesus is with us – but it does mean, even when we have questions or concerns or are angry – Jesus is with us.
So since we all have Jesus with us, do you think we can only say hello to each other? No! Right! We need to be like the angel. We need to remind each other that Jesus is with us, always.
So don’t just say hello. Say “hello! Beloved one of God.” or “Hello! You are blessed because God is with you.” or “How’s it going, the one who will never be far from Jesus?” And we know we will never be far from Jesus because tonight we’re celebrating Christmas. Jesus came into the world. Jesus was born. And that means we are loved, we are cared for, and that everyone matters to God. And since everyone matters to God, you matter to God too.
Pass out the candy canes/with stickers that say “To a Child of God. From Jesus.”
Thank you for being here and I wish you all a very blessed Christmas Eve.
Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on Christmas Eve, 12/24/2017.