And so the story begins. Christmas Eve in my family means a fancy dinner, church and opening gifts. Each year has it’s own version. Sometimes church is early so the kids can go to bed at a ‘decent hour.’ Sometimes worship is in communities we are familiar with and other times we worship as visitors. The gift giving changes from year to year. In my younger years, the gifts were central to Christmas. As our family grows our gift giving has morphed from more to less. Today just being together, sharing stories and traditions, takes center stage.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
And our lives are interrupted. Most every year something interrupts our life during the holiday season. Sometimes it’s coming down with the flu on Christmas; other times it is weather delays. Often we travel from our homes and rearrange our schedules. Friends visit, we gather, we take time off of work. Some of the interruptions are minor; others are major. Our family knows both. There was the year our family was in California and had a Jewish guest. (A memorable year in our family!) There are the Christmases of firsts – engagements, marriages, grandchildren…and so on. The year my brother Scott died ranks highest in interruptions. This year my daughter had ankle reconstruction surgery this morning. Not the ‘normal’ Christmas at our house. Christmas is filled with interruptions.
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And the good news breaks in. No matter how the tradition plays out, or what interruptions happen, Jesus comes. In those days and today, the the message of Jesus coming reaches into our lives. And the message, familiar as it is, is always new.
So tonight, missing worship as I sit by the fire with our patient, I once again welcome the baby morning in a manger and say,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”