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December 25, 2002

“Peace on earth to those of goodwill!”

(Luke 2:1-14)

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope each one of you has a blessed and joyful Christmas, celebrating Jesus.

One of my favorite stories is "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens, which you remember is all about Ebenezer Scrooge, the mean banker who hoards all his money, and goes around saying, "Bah Humbug!" On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future. Then he wakes up on Christmas morning and finds out he's been given a second chance. He buys the biggest turkey for Bob Crachett and Tiny Tim, reconciles with his family, serves everyone, and loves everyone for the rest of his life. It's such a great story because he wakes up on Christmas and decides to spend his life consciously loving and serving others, to live every day as if it were Christmas, loving and serving Christ in everyone.

I hope we can all live every day as if it's Christmas and be like the reformed Scrooge, loving and serving everyone unconditionally, in honor of Jesus.

What's so shocking about Christmas is that the Creator of the 15 billion year old universe wants to become a human being, and in fact, becomes a poor homeless child, born of refugee parents on the outskirts of a brutal empire in the middle of nowhere in Bethlehem.

While God is trying to become a humble human being, everyone on earth wants to become like God, to play God, to be all powerful, almighty, in charge, successful, to dominate the world. But God just wants to be human, to be poor, powerless, and humble, to be one of us, to share our life, to know our struggles and to help us.

Most of us have a hard time trying to be human, so for me the great gift of Christmas is that God comes to us in Jesus and shows us how to be human. God is determined to help us to be human, to teach us how to be compassionate, loving, just, truthful, nonviolent and merciful.

God becomes human to show us how to live, how to love, how to serve, how to pray and how to die. In Jesus, we experience God's love for us and learn how to love one another. In Jesus, we know that God cares for each one of us, that God is with us in our day to day lives.

Because of Jesus, we don't have to play God or try to be God; all we have to do is be human, and try to live like Jesus and help each other and help welcome God's peace on earth.

When Jesus was born, the angels just couldn't contain themselves and said to the poor shepherds, "Don't be afraid. We have good news of great joy for all people. You have a savior." Then the heavenly hosts appear singing, "Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to those of goodwill."

So we celebrate the birth of Jesus; we put aside all our fears; we are filled with joy; we glorify God and pledge to be people of goodwill and live in peace with each other and with everyone on the planet.

Remember Scrooge on Christmas morning? He wakes up, throws open the window and calls out down to the boy, "What day is it?" And the boy responds, "Why it's Christmas day!" and Scrooge rejoices saying, "Thank God I didn't miss it!"

Today, we can say, "Thank God I didn't miss it!" From now on, we can live every day in honor of Jesus, loving and serving everyone, giving thanks for Jesus, celebrating Jesus, and being with Jesus. Merry Christmas, and as Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!"

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