Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Sermon

Christmas Eve 2009        Luke 2:1-20           Fr. Benton Quest

Well, I really can’t explain it.  We were out with our sheep, like usual.  I was a little tired but I knew I couldn’t fall asleep.  Those wolves are just waiting for that moment when you aren’t paying attention to come in an take a sheep.  But I wasn’t going to let that happen. 
I know what people say about us shepherds.  They think we are lazy because all we do is lay around our fields.  And they think we are thieves, ready to steal a sheep when no one is looking.  Then after we steal the sheep, we blame it on a wolf.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.  I work hard and I pride myself on closely watching my master’s sheep.  Those people in the village don’t know what they are talking about . . .
Oh, now where was I?  Oh yeah, I was out in the field.  Some of us shepherds brought our flocks together so we could take turns sleeping while others were watching.  Well, while I was watching, suddenly the strangest thing happened.  In the midst of the darkness, I saw a light.  As I watched, this light began to get brighter and brighter.  I looked to see if it was someone coming up the hill with a lamp, but I couldn’t see anyone.
I woke up my buddy to show him the light and see what he thought.  He looked and was scared.  He said it was a demon light and that we needed to wake the others and get the sheep to safety. 
As he started waking the other shepherds, the light continued to get brighter.  What was weird was that when we looked for the source of the light, we couldn’t find any.  We couldn’t see any torches or lamps.  Then the light got to be as bright as the sun.  It was like daylight.  The sheep were “baaing” but they were not running away.  They were just standing, huddled together.  I think those sheep were as scared as we were!  Besides, the light became so bright I had to shield my eyes.
Then I heard a voice.  When I looked to where the sound had come.  I saw the strangest thing.  It looked like a person but this person was dressed in shining clothes.  The light we were seeing was coming from the person!
        I’ll tell you, although I don’t like to admit it, I can’t think of anything scarier than that glowing person.
        Then the person, well person is the closest thing I can think of to call it, told us to look for a baby, wrapped in cloth, and lying in a manger.  That sounded strange.  Who would place a baby in a manger?  You know, a manger is where they put the animals’ food!  Then the next thing I knew, there were glowing people everywhere!  They were praising God, and saying “Glory to God in the Highest heaven, and on earth peace among those who he favors!”
        Then the glowing people left and we were again standing in the dark.  For a while we didn’t know what to do.  Then I said, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place which the Lord made known to us.”
        When we got to Bethlehem, we found the mother and father, just as the plowing person had told us.  We felt kind of weird, asking to see the baby.  We explained about the glowing people and about their message.  I though for sure we would have been accused of drinking too much wine.  But instead, the man asked us to come in.  We saw the little baby, wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger, just as we had been told.  And when I looked at the baby, he was looking back at me.  And when his eyes met mine, I felt, well, strange.  This was just a baby, but this was more than a baby.  The glowing people said this was the messiah, the Lord.  For ages we had been told of his coming.  Now he was here!
        Why wasn’t he born in a great castle?  Why wasn’t he born somewhere nice and warm?  Where were the kings and noblemen to worship him?  All that were here were the baby’s family and us shepherds.  I don’t understand.
        Yet, when I looked again on that little baby, I began to understand.  The glowing person said that the good news was for all people!  It wasn’t just for the rich and the powerful!  It just wasn’t for those respected by society!  It was for us!  For all of us!  It is for the ones left out of society!  It is for the ones kept out of polite society.  It is good news for all people! 
        The messiah is here!  You just have to look.  However, he is not where you would think he would be.  He is not up on high.  He is here, with us!  He is Emmanuel!  God with us!
        If I were you, I would run, as fast as I could, to find him.  And when you find him, look into his eyes.  You will not be disappointed.

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