A Christmas Homily
Christmas Eve Service
December 24, 2019
Rev. Elizabeth Aguilar
Community Congregational Church of Chula Vista, UCC
Texts: Micah 5:2-4, Luke 2:1-10, John 1:1-18
Sermon Title: Jesus, the Light of the World
Are you a person who is really good at reading maps or following directions so that you are actually able to arrive to the place you want? I must confess that I am terrible at following directions and I almost always get lost. I think I get this from my dad. I can remember going with Him to visit someone who was sick form our church and we circled around this person’s neighborhood for almost an hour. It was only after we begged Him to call home and ask my mom for the woman’s telephone so that we can call her, was it that we were able to find this woman’ s home.
Well, I’m basically the same way. Even when I follow google maps I am apt to get lost. Well, tonight we are reminded of those who traveled toward Bethlehem and the roads that they took toward that destination. The Christmas story presents us with three different groups of people and their three different roads they took.
In the Gospel of Matthew we have the magi who took the road of scholarship and inquiry. After studying the sky and using their abilities to interpret the movement of the stars, the Magi arrive to Bethlehem. Their guide was the star.
In Luke we have a group of shepherds who are minding their own business, doing their daily job of taking care of their flock and probably just hanging out in the hillside. In the midst of their nightly routine they are interrupted by an angel and then a host of angels all proclaiming the birth of Jesus and announcing what this birth will mean. The shepherds thus go to Bethlehem in a dramatic, heavenly revelation.
But we also have Mary and Joseph who travel to Bethlehem out of family obligation, so they travel as a family going about the business of life.
Isn’t it interesting that although all of these people traveled by different roads, under different circumstances, they all reach their destination, which is Bethlehem?
Today the question may be by what road will we take to arrive at Bethlehem? For some it may be the road of scholarship and inquiry, for others it will be in the form of a family which is surprised to hear God’s word in the midst of daily life. Others will come to Bethlehem as a result of a dramatic experience. Which ever the road you take, God is still calling you to Bethlehem.
And once at Bethlehem what will we encounter? We can not hear the story of Christmas with out noticing the scandal in which it takes place. After all, think about the condition in which Jesus was born. Jesus was born in a feeding trough, basically on the rode, not in a glorious palace or even a comfortable home. He was born to a couple who wasn’t even married yet but who was engaged to be married. Those who came to visit him were shepherds, who at that time were considered to be the lowest of the low, despised, lazy, shifty characters.
Now God could have come in great splendor and majesty. By entering in this humble form, God identifies with the lowly and the oppressed, the homeless, the poor. It was among them that God could do the divine work. The story of Christmas then is both an announcement of hope and a call to humility. For there is room for everyone in Bethlehem: the poor, the despised, the brokenhearted, the imperfect. There is room there for you and for me.
But what do we do once we arrive to Bethlehem? Do we go in great haste to meet the baby Jesus? Do we testify to God’s greatness and wonder in our lives as the shepherds did to everyone they met? God is still calling us to Bethlehem, toward His light.
In fact, in the Gospel of John we read that Jesus IS the light of the world. The challenge for us is how we are going to testify to this light? How are we going to share Jesus, who is the light of the world with everyone we know and meet?
What I love about a New Year is that it gives me an opportunity to start all over. To use the perspective I have learned during the past year and to start fresh.
When we start this New Year we can do so knowing that Jesus was born in order so that we would know his light, in order so that we would receive him over and over again, in order so that we can share with others who He is. We can do so, by honoring those we live and work and play with. We can share the light of Jesus by loving our neighbor, weather they are rich, poor, white, brown or black. We can share Jesus’ light by being kinder to ourselves and not trying to fit a false image of perfection. We can share the light of Jesus by forgiving those whom have wronged us. There are so many ways that we can testify to the light of Jesus. After all, let us remember that Jesus came for ALL. As the angel told the shepherds, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for ALL the people.”
All people are on their own paths to Bethlehem. Those paths may take strange turns and twists in the rode, we may feel exhausted and perhaps even alone but He is illuminating our path, He is WITH us on our way toward Bethlehem.
Therefore, let us go to Bethlehem to worship the Jesus who although came in the form of a helpless baby is our savior and a king. Let us go in the confidence that he will light our path and in the assurance that we do not go there on our own but together, with one another and with Him.
So tonight, when you share the light of Jesus with the one sitting next to you, I invite you to tell that person that Jesus is the Light of the world! And when you do this, remember that Jesus is with you as you travel to Bethlehem!