Christmas Eve 2019

Christmas Eve

Song of the Child to be Born

GOSPEL

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see– I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  Luke 2:1–20

 

SERMON

It is the custom in one African tribe, that when a woman decides to have a baby, she goes and sits alone under a tree. There she prays and she listens. She listens until she hears the song of the child who wants to be born.

Once she hears the song, she returns to the village and to the man who will be the child’s father and teaches the song to him. When they hold each other together in love, they sing the song, to call the child to them. 

While the baby is growing inside her, the woman teaches the child’s song to the other women of the village, so that when the time arrives for the birth of the child. the people surrounding the mother sing the song to welcome the child among them. 

Then as the child grows up, the other people in the village learn the song. If the child falls or hurts himself someone picks him up and sings the song. When the child does something wonderful, the people of the village sing this song. When the child becomes a teen, the villagers sing the song.  When the teen becomes an adult the villagers again sing the song. 

And so it goes this way through life. At a wedding, the songs of husband and wife are sung together. Finally, when this child grows old, and lies in bed ready to die, all the villagers know the song, and they sing it for the last time. 

 

I believe that when God does his part in making a human being, He not only gives the gift of life, but he gifts each human being with a song.  Each child is born with God’s song in his/her heart. It is so very important for all parents to listen for the song that God gives to each newborn child.  

 

When the angel Gabriel told Mary, that she was going to have a child, she prayed and she listened for the song that would be her child’s song. She listened and listened so very carefully that she was able to sing her child’s song before He was born.   

 

When Mary was several months pregnant, she visited her cousin Elizabeth, and when they embraced, Mary sang the song of yet- to-be-born child.

 

Mary sang, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

He has put forth His arm in strength, and scattered the proud hearted. 

He caste down the mighty from their thrones,

and raised up the lowly.

He filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

He has come to the help of his servants, remembering his mercy.

The mercy promised to our father, to Abraham, and his children forever.”

 

And guess what?  When Mary’s child Jesus became an adult He sang the very same song on His first visit to the synagogue.

 

In that moment Jesus sang, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to heal the broken hearted.  To proclaim liberty to the captives and to set the prisoners free. To proclaim a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication, to comfort those who mourn.”

The song that Mary discovered when she prayed and listened, was the very song God placed in the heart of His Son Jesus.

It was about love for the poor and bringing power to its knees.

And you know what?  This is the song that God places in each of our hearts. 

We live in a world in which there are many songs.  We must bounce all the songs that fill the air, and that we might be taught and learn, we must bounce all these off the song that God has placed within us, and then choose what song we will spend our days singing.

Songs that are about money and power, songs about getting rich and having everything, songs about being great, being first and beating others are not the songs that God has placed within us.

Look at the stable.  What do you see?  

I see some shepherds.  Now shepherds were not very important people in the village.  They were poor.

I see some kings.  But the kings I see are not sitting on their thrones but are bowing down and paying homage to Jesus.

I see the poor and the powerless and the rich and the powerful invited by the angels and by a star to come to the same place.

It is the place where those who have nothing are treated as kings – they get the first invitation to come before a Jesus who loves them even though they mean very little to anyone else.

It is a place where those who have everything realize that all that they have means nothing, unless they offer it as a gift to be shared.

We are all here to listen and learn again this child’s song so that we can live it as our song and sing it together. 

The Rev. Frank J. Alagna

December 24, 2019