A brief homily for Christmas by The Rev’d Glenn Empey

Luke 2: 1-20 NRSV

Mary kept these things in her heart. She treasured them and she pondered them. All from the words of a few shepherds. It was what they had been told by angels who appeared to them in their fields in the deep darkness of a silent night. First a single angel and then suddenly a throng and multitude of angels with a message that would change the world. That was a night long ago in a land far away but the mystery remains into this day. There are things to take into your heart and to ponder and treasure on this night.

Now this is a holy mystery and these are holy mysteries. They’re mysteries because they are profound; they reach to the depths of the heart and they well up out of the heart into the world. They’re the spiritual kinds of things such as hope, and peace, and joy, and love. They’re profound but in the end, they’re quite simple. Getting to the simple part is the challenge and what a journey of faith is about, it seems to me.

It’s the kind of hope that outweighs any feeling that all is lost. It’s the kind of hope that sees beyond wishes.

It’s the kind of peace that brings quiet when things are unsettled even in the midst of turmoil. It’s the kind of peace that comes from letting go and being detached from troubles. It’s a peace from realizing what really matters.

It’s the kind of joy that comes from recognizing and owning the reality that, in the world, there is more light than darkness, more good than bad.

And it’s the kind of thing that constantly beckons a person always to be learning more about how to love and to know about being loved without condition. You are never abandoned no matter what.

(Please know that I don’t mean that in any rose-coloured-glasses kind of way. That also has to do with a journey of moving beyond the profound to the simple.)

These are all mysteries – holy mysteries — to hold in your heart, to treasure and to ponder. These are the holy mysteries of what Christmas is all about.

It’s like a process of incarnation of when a tiny baby who is the Messiah comes into the world–not some great king or conqueror, as was prophesied and expected–but a tiny, vulnerable infant child.

All these mysteries are about Jesus’ being born into the world and also into the depths of the heart. And that’s what happens at Christmas. That is what Christmas is all about.

Jesus through these holy mysteries is born once again in the hearts of the children of God. And that happens to be you and me, in our hearts.

Mary had a sense about all this. I think she could see it in the baby’s eyes. Maybe what she’d been told before was beginning to make sense. Maybe the announcement of the angels and the shepherds helped make it clearer for her. Still she pondered what all this meant.

So my prayer this night is that each of you sense and feel once again the story of Jesus’ birth in a way that you can hold it in your heart, to treasure it, to ponder it, and to explore it.

It is a story that has changed the world. And it’s a story that changes you. May there be moments in this night for you to keep these holy mysteries in your heart, to treasure them, and to ponder them. May the stillness, the gift of music and the words of the story itself enable these holy mysteries of Christmas to resonate in your heart.

Some were lost in amazement in that night long ago but Mary treasured all the words she had heard. In this night you can do the same because you also are a child of God in whose heart Jesus is born once again in this night.

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