December 25, 2002
Merry Christmas everyone! I wish you all great joy as we celebrate the
birth of Jesus. I just want to reflect with you for a moment about the
meaning of Christmas in terms of love, hope, and peace.
For me, the story of Christmas is so mysterious because here we are remembering
the birth of a child born 2000 years ago in a cave to homeless, refugee
parents on the outskirts of a brutal empire, and today we celebrate his
birth. When I get passed the Christmas shopping and eggnog and Santa
and presents and sales and the crass commercialism of Christmas and the
hypocrisy of our government at Christmastime, I think Christmas is ultimately
about love because we celebrate today God’s great love for us.
God loves us so much that God wants to be with us, wants to share our
life, and so God becomes one of us, to love each one of us and show us
how to live in God’s love. And this is a great gift because I think
the world has lost the meaning of love. We don’t know how to love
anymore. We don’t know what the meaning of real love is. We think
we love people by supporting them as they go off to get killed. At Christmas,
we realize that God looks down on the whole world with a universal love
for the whole human family, and then walks among us in the spirit of
universal love and invites us to live in that universal love. So today
we celebrate God’s love for us, and pledge to live in God’s
universal love for the rest of our lives.
Second, Christmas is about hope because the good news today is that we
have a savior. We’re not left in the lurch. We are not stuck in
a ditch. We don’t have to give in to the world’s despair
and darkness and meaningless and violence. As I look around the world,
I think the whole world has gone into total despair. The whole world
has given up hope. The world says there is nothing that can be done.
There is no hope, no light, no way out. We are all stuck in sin and violence
and hopelessness. But today we hear the good news that we have a savior
who is literally saving us from ourselves and saving the whole human
family and showing us a way out of our madness and insanity and selfishness,
who is helping us all out of the ditch that we are stuck in, who has
come to lend a hand and show us how to live well by walking the path
of nonviolence, and lead us into God’s house of love. So there
is great hope for all of us. There is a real, concrete reason to be hopeful.
Finally, Christmas is about peace, because when Jesus was born, the angels
could not contain themselves and started singing to the shepherds and
announcing that with the birth of Jesus, we have peace on earth. But
as I look around the world, I think we have rejected the Christmas gift
of peace on earth. We prefer war on earth--war with ourselves, with one
another, with everyone. We have firmly turned the angels away and said, “No
thank you. We like our wars.” But the good news today is that God
is giving us the greatest present in Jesus, the gift of being at peace
with God and ourselves and everyone everywhere. Now you can be cynical
like everyone else and say that’s nice, but that’s totally
unrealistic or just pie in the sky, OR you can say, “Thank you
God for this great gift, and in honor of Jesus, we pledge to welcome
the gift you give us and live at peace with you and one another and do
our part to make peace on earth a reality, to resist war and oppose war
and help abolish war forever!”
So today the angels say to us what they said to the shepherds in the
fields long ago: “Do not be afraid! There is good news of great
joy for all of you. A savior is born to you. Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to all.” Merry Christmas and God bless you.
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