What Will You Proclaim?
Isaiah 9:2-7 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-20
Tonight, is a night of proclamation and hope! Tonight, is truly a night of expectation and wonder! Tonight, is the night that we experience the pure and unadulterated joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus. And all of us have received the same profound gift. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
This phrase took on new meaning for me this year when I saw the play, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” I heard these words in a new way when the young girl playing the angel – who had a star shaved into the side of her head – pointed a fairy wand into the crowd and said repeatedly, “Unto you!” She did it with such urgency and sincerity that I realized that this message was for me as much as it was for her.
It mattered for me to receive it, and it mattered for her to say it. She said it for the whole audience, as much as she said it to each of us.
I’d like to unpack the gift of those words a little tonight. I know it’s early, but indulge me. These words were given first to the shepherds, then from the shepherds to Mary, then from the shepherds to everyone they met.
This one that was born was the Messiah, God’s anointed one; the one God had chosen to be revealed through; the one who would offer salvation.
This is one of the places that I think the “you” in scripture should be rightly translated as either “y’all” or “all y’all.” It’s not just because I’m southern. It’s because we need to know that this message is for us as individuals who are connected to others and also for all people everywhere.
And that reminds me that the other thing that we need to lift out of this box of words and view with wonder is what it means that Jesus is the Christ who offers salvation. One has to wonder how much of that the shepherds got right. Even they were looking for a political solution or a military warrior king. Did they hear the words “great joy for all people” and really expect it to be for all people?
One can only hope.
How about you and me, though? What will our proclamation be? Will it be about a God that enters into the chaos of our lives, the brokenness of our hearts, and the hopefulness of a people who still expect God to be active and present? I hope so.
Will it be a message like the letter to Titus – one that recognizes that we need to be reminded to try our best to be good and decent people, even as we wait for God to finally fulfill all God’s promises?
Our maybe it will be the kind of thing that isn’t just about words. Maybe it will be about recognizing God’s love for us and the claim it places on our hearts. Then all that we do is a response to the gift we have received – the gift we celebrate at this table again and again and again.
You know, somehow it has not occurred to me in the past that this sacrament is the first gift of Christmas. The first gift is from God, and it received from this table. So, Good Christian friends, let us rejoice in heart and soul and voice that Christ was born for this. Christ was born to restore what is broken and to let us know that even if our proclamation has been off the mark, restoration is still possible.
We see that at the table together, and it plays out in our lives as we demonstrate what we believe. Because, just like the angel, it matters to us to say it just as much as it may matter to the one who hears it. So, this Christmas – and the days that follow, let us proclaim the birth of Christ by forgiving an offense, by letting go of old wounds, by being kind for the sake of being kind, by welcoming a stranger, by appreciating the beauty of God’s creation, by laughing, by weeping with those that weep, by speaking our love again and again, and by recognizing our need to love as much as our need to be loved.
Yes! Let us celebrate the God who makes all things new; the God who breaks open the heavens for shepherds, and even leaves it up to us to proclaim that salvation has come. Even here, even now. And to God be the glory now and always. Amen!