Everywhere Emmanuel_ December 24, 2019

Everywhere Emmanuel

December 24, 2019

It’s here at last.  The wondrous, holy night has finally come.  The night we’ve been looking forward to and preparing for and dreaming about is upon us.  All over the world tonight, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The poet Phillips Brooks describes it this way:

Everywhere, everywhere Christmas tonight!

Christmas in lands of the fir tree and pine,

Christmas in lands of the palm tree and vine,

Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,

Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright,

Christmas where children are [busy at play],

Christmas where old [folks] are patient and gray,

Christmas where peace, like a dove in her flight,

Broods over brave soldiers in the thick of the fight,

Everywhere, everywhere Christmas tonight!

For the Christ child who comes is the Master of all;

No palace too great, no cottage to small.


We gather here, on this night, to hear the amazing story of the birth of Jesus.  It’s a story that unfolds in very humble circumstances.  The birth of Jesus doesn’t happen in a royal palace surround by luxury.  God doesn’t arrive in bright lights or razzle dazzle special effects.

In Jesus, God is born to an ordinary couple at the bottom of the social ladder.  Because they live under the rule of an emperor, Joseph and Mary have to make an exhausting journey at a very inconvenient time.  They can’t even find a decent place to stay, but have to make do with a shabby stable.  And there, in the muddy straw, in all the tears and toil of birth, Jesus is born.

That’s where God comes to us, not in fanfare and royal splendor, but in the meanest of circumstances.  God comes in that way, so that we might understand that God will stop at nothing to come to us in saving love.  No journey is too long, no night too dark, no stable too dreary.  Nothing – not poverty, or pain, or persecution – nothing can separate us from the love of God that longs to be born among us.

“Everywhere, everywhere Christmas tonight!”

Christmas in church, Christmas at home, Christmas in the high end condo, Christmas in the homeless shelter.  Christmas in the hospital emergency room, Christmas in the four star hotel.  On this night, God’s love bursts in among us, breaking down all the barriers that might separate us from that love.  For the Christ child who comes, no palace is too great, no cottage too small.  No heart is too hopeless to be beyond the reach of the love that longs to be born there.

Let this be the night that you and I make that love welcome, that we open our hearts prepare him room, and let God’s love shine forth for all to see.

As a sign of our desire to make God’s love known near and far, let us now present our gifts, as the offering is gathered.