“Draw Deep the Breath of Christmas”

“Draw Deep the Breath of Christmas”

Christmas Eve Worship, December 24, 2020

Luke 1:5 – 2:20

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Centering Prayer.

There appeared to Zechariah,

a priest of the temple,

an angel of the Lord.

(Luke 1:11-17)

Gabriel appeared

when the Lord’s longing desire

for a Savior

and Zechariah’s longing desire

for a child

came together and became one.

Gabriel appeared

to the right of the altar.

Zechariah trembled with fear.

“Do not be afraid”

the angel sensed his apprehension.

“for your prayer is heard.

Your wife Elizabeth

will bear you a son,

and you shall call

his name John.”

“He will make ready for the Lord

a people prepared.”

Zechariah drew deep

the breath of Christmas

and Elizabeth conceived.

Gabriel was directed by God

back to the boondocks,

to the Galilean city of Nazareth

to a virgin

engaged to a local carpenter

and her name was Mary.

(Luke 1:26-35)

“Hail, O favored one!”

Gabriel announced.

Mary trembled with fear.

Can you blame her?

“Do not be afraid”

the angel sensed her apprehension.

“You have found favor

with God.

You will conceive in your womb

and bear a son,

and you shall

call his name, Jesus.”

“He will be great,

and will be called

the Son of the Most High;

and the Lord God

will give to him

the throne of his father David,

and he will reign over

the house of Jacob forever;

and of his kingdom

there will be no end.”

“But I have no husband,”

Mary wondered,

“How can this be?”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High

will overshadow you;

therefore the child to be born

will be called holy

the Son of God.”

Mary drew deep

the breath of Christmas

and conceived

the Savior of the World.

A cousin,

John was born.

Elizabeth’s barrenness ended.

And baby John

drew deep his first breath

and it was the breath of Christmas.

A cousin,

Jesus was born.

The world’s darkness ended.

“The Word became flesh

and dwelt among us.”

(John 1:14)

And baby Jesus

drew deep his first breath

and it was the breath of Christmas.

Angelic intervention did not abate.

An angel appeared

(undoubtedly Gabriel)

to lowly shepherds

tending to their flocks at night.

(Luke 2:8-20)

Like Zechariah and Mary

they were filled with fear.

“Do not be afraid”

the angel sensed their apprehension.

“Behold,

I bring you good news

of a great joy

which will come to all the people;

for to you is born this day

in the city of David

a Savior,

who is Christ the Lord.”

They went with haste

and found the Christ child

just as had been told them.

They peered

into the lowly manger

saw the baby

wrapped tightly in swaddling cloths

and the shepherds drew

the deep breath of Christmas.

Astrological visions

appeared to wise men in the East

like an angel

rising as a star

over the manger

where the Savior lay.

(Matthew 2:1-12)

The star

drew them to come

like metal to a magnet.

The star

led them to Bethlehem

gave them the understanding

that a child King

had been born.

Entering the barn

they saw the baby

“with Mary her mother,

and they fell down

and worshiped him.”

The wise men

drew deeply the breath of Christmas.

There is sufficient fuel

to feed the Grinch’s complaints,

especially in this pandemic environment.  

The virus feels like the Grinch’s devious plan

To smother the breath out of Christmas,

To suck the life from every home in Whoville.

“Make them bubble!” he yells to his loyal dog, Max.

“Keep them separated!” he shouts from Mount Crumpit.

“Cover their faces!” and “Outlaw family gatherings.”

Only a Grinch could be so diabolical.

From Seuss to Dickins,

From Grinch to Scrooge,

A miserly “Ba, Humbug” likewise tries to

Kill the breath of Christmas.

I hear Scrooge’s objections

all the time,

and they sound like this:

“the age of miracles is over”

“angels are just a bunch of phooey”

“if God is so great, then why did God allow …

… my loved one to die?

… suffering and famine?

… disease and injury?”

Complaints and objections

plunge death and despair

deep into the souls of

the weak and the ignorant.

Complaints and objections

Pours shadows into darkness,

Ushering in a night that knows no end

For a world that thrives on terror

and feeds on fear.

Complaints and objections

slam so hard

the wind can get knocked right out of you.

They can take your breath away.

Complaints and objections

Can’t steal away your breath of Christmas.

“Do not be afraid”

the angel Gabriel

says to you this evening.

“Do not be afraid”

the angel Gabriel

proclaims to the world.

“Do not be afraid”

the angel Gabriel

appears and announces this night:

“The Word is made flesh

and dwells among us!”

A child is born

and his name is Jesus!

The Spirit of God

has stirred

and a new wind is blowing!

Gabriel and the Heavenly host appear!

Light has come into the world;

and in him there is

no darkness at all.

In him there is no transgression.

In him there is only a desire to

take your transgressions away.

In him there is only a desire to

to save you into eternal life.

“For God so loves

this world,

that He gave

His only Son,

that who-so-ever believes in him,

will not perish

but will be given

everlasting life.”

(John 3:16)

In Christ there is only a desire to

fill your lungs with the sweetness of his Holy Spirit;

to give you the breath of Christmas.

“Do not be afraid,”

children of the loving Father.

“Do not be afraid,”

disciples of the newborn Son.

“Do not be afraid,”

the Spirit blows a new wind.

Breath deep.

Breath deeply

the Spirit’s breath

this Christmas Eve night.

Join with Zechariah and Elizabeth,

Mary and Joseph,

Shepherds and Wise Men,

and

Draw deep

the breath of Christmas.

Merry Christmas, dearly beloved!

God loves you, and so do I.

Amen.

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