My New Christmas Word – A Christmas Day Sermon On Luke 2:8-20

The child has been born. Take a deep breath. Breathe in the truth of his birth. The child has been born.

I love the Christmas Day liturgy. It’s one of my favorite liturgies of the whole year. It’s so different from last night’s liturgy. The crowd at last night’s liturgy has gone home. There aren’t many of us here this morning. The angel has left and returned to heaven and the shepherds have returned to their fields and flock. The noise, excitement, and anticipation of Christmas Eve have yielded to the calm and quiet of Christmas Day. There is no multitude of heavenly host praising God and neither Mary nor Joseph say a word. The pageantry of last night’s liturgy has given way to a simpler liturgy.

The child has been born. Take a deep breath. Breathe in the beauty of his morning. The child has been born.

So let me ask you this: What has caused you to come stand alongside the manger this morning? Why are you here? 

I’m asking myself that same question. Why am I here this morning? It’s not a question seeking information or an answer. It’s a question I hope will open our hearts to treasuring and pondering. 

What else does one do after a child has been born? It’s what Mary is doing. She is treasuring the child and pondering what all this means. 

What are you treasuring and pondering this morning? 

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Where is your heart this morning? What are you treasuring? Some treasures are of eternal and lasting value, others are fool’s gold. Some we need to hold on to, others we’re better off letting go of. What does it look like and mean for you to treasure the child, hold him, and keep him close? 

What does this child mean for your life? What difference is he making? What is he offering you and what is he asking of you? When you look in the face of the child what do you see? What do you hope or need to see? What questions does he set before you? In what ways is he calling you more deeply into your truer self? What word does he have for you? What gift does he hold for you this Christmas morning?

This morning we come alongside the child lying in a manger to treasure and ponder. He will spend the rest of his life coming alongside you and me; coming alongside us on our best days and our worst days, coming alongside us in our joys and our sorrows; coming alongside us in our living and our dying.

The child has been born. Take a deep breath. Breathe in the goodness of his “alongsideness.” The child has been born.

Alongsideness* is my new Christmas word. You might be thinking to yourself “Mike, alongsideness isn’t a word.” I know. Spellcheck already told me that, but this morning I’m going to trust Christmas more than the dictionary or my computer. 

I’m going to trust that the alongsideness of God is what Mary was treasuring and pondering in her heart. I’m going to trust that the silence of Joseph was him making room for the alongsideness of God. I’m going to trust that the shepherds experienced the alongsideness of God and that’s why they returned to their fields “glorifying and praising God.” I’m going to trust the alongsideness of God in your life and mine. And I hope you will too. Maybe alongsideness can be your new Christmas word too.

Alongsideness. Now that’s something to treasure and ponder.

Merry Alongsideness.

Image Credit: Michael K. Marsh, taken in the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.
* I learned the word alongsideness from John Paul Lederach in his book Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2014), 54.

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