Holy Trinity Episcopal Church


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    Dec 25, 2019

    Christmas Day

    Passage: Luke 2:1-20

    Preacher: The Rev. Canon Patricia Grace

    Series: Year C: 2019-2020

    Category: Christmas


    The Christmas morning service

    has become my favorite of the year …


    It’s so quiet,

              and you folks that are here really want to be here –

    we all know it would be so much easier

    to stay home in our Christmas jammies,

              drinking coffee,

    while enjoying Mom’s classic cranberry bread recipe

              dozing in front of a fire

    and dreaming of Christmases past.


    But it’s nice to be here, isn’t it…

              on the morning after –

    the morning after all that joyful noise,

              all that pomp and circumstance,

                       all that wonder and mystery…

    all those heavenly hosts (Holy trinity’s choir and musicians )

    singing Glory, glory, glory.


    I imagine it was something like this for the Holy Family…

    no, not a formal service in a church,

    but quiet, like this –

              and close knit

                       and warm.


    My guess is that the night before was pretty overwhelming

              for that little family.

    A young bride and groom, a new baby –

              lots of firsts for these two people,

                       far from home

                                 and far from its comforts.


    My guess is that they were awakened that morning by a tiny cry –

              the baby needing milk or changing,

                       or maybe just a little attention from his new parents.


    Joseph, no doubt, left the warmth of their makeshift bed in the straw

              to build a fire, haul some water,

                       and prepare a simple breakfast.


    Mary and the baby continued that wondrous process of bonding

              – that happens in those first hours together…

    mother and child,

              those who were so recently one body,

                       now learning together how to function as two.


    They all probably stayed in that warm straw bed for most of the day…

              resting, talking, dreaming of what was to come.

    They chatted about the future, most likely…

    of happy days to come

    filled with family picnics,

                        family reunions, the joys of everyday family life…

    they whispered, perhaps, with a tinge of anxiety,

    like new parents do,

    worried about future nights walking the floors –

    what if he gets croupy, they fretted,

    how will he handle his first teeth,

                                 and all those childhood illnesses…

    and how will we help him handle

    his first experiences of disappointment, injustice

    and grief?


    Perhaps the shepherds stopped in with some fresh milk or cheese…

              maybe the innkeeper’s wife brought a small loaf of warm bread

    and some wine…

    the animals moved to and fro,

              feeding, sleeping, going out to pasture and back.


    Eight days from now,

              they will take him to the Temple

              to be named and circumcised…

                       and will experience another round of

                                 mysterious and awe-filled encounters…

    Old, blind, Simeon, with tears in his eyes,

              will hold the child and proclaim him to be

                       the Light promised by Isaiah to enlighten the nations.

    Anna, the prophetess, her eyes as teary,

              will touch his face and know that she has not waited for him in vain.

    And Mary will begin pondering these things in her heart…

              not really knowing, but sensing,

                       that these would not be the last such

    strange and wonderful encounters for her baby boy.


    If the calendar is right,

              there would be three more days after that

    until the Magi arrived…

                       strangers bearing expensive gifts,

                                 uncommon kings from the far east,

    who would kneel and show homage to him.     


    Soon enough the little family will be forced to flee…

              in danger of losing their very lives…

              the reality of evil interrupting their pleasant idyll…

    An angel reveals to Joseph in a dream

              that Herod desires to kill their child …

    and will go to any lengths to accomplish that death.

    Back on the donkey,

    going home another way,

              mother, father and baby will leave in a hurry

                        in the wee hours of the morning…

    before Herod’s brutal minions

    massacre hundreds of newborn Jewish boys…

              hundreds of holy innocents…

    they will be long gone

                       before the sound of Rachel weeping fills the countryside

                                 with desolate mourning.


    But today, it’s just the morning after …

              the first day of the rest of their lives together.


    And I think it was nice, like this…

              quiet, close knit and warm.


    Soon enough, dear friends,

              the world will intrude on our Christmas idyll…

    for many, it will be back to work tomorrow,

              or off to visit other relatives, friends.

    The cares of daily life are all too evident, even on this day…

    and even on this day,

              the presence of evil in the world is not far from our consciousness.

    But for now, my dears,

              in this time together,

                       let us enjoy the morning after together…

    let us give thanks for times like this –

    times of quiet, of closeness and of warmth.


    And may we be strengthened,

    as Mary and Joseph and Jesus were,

              for the hard times ahead

                       by this silent, holy, peaceful time…

    by the love we have for each other

              and by the abundant love of God,

    which came down the night before

    and continues, without ceasing,

    to nurture and protect us, all of our days.