Dec 24, 2016
Fr. Phil Eberhart
Merry Christmas !!
Merry Christmas !!
How many times have you heard it or said it this month? Merry Christmas!
I want to spend just a few minutes tonight, on the eve of Christmas, thinking with you about what it means to say... MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Merry is what we all want to be... Right? What we wish for ourselves and hopefully, for others. What we share with family and with friends in emails, and FB posts and a few still send cards! Updates, newsletters, year end letters. But all with a simple wish -- Merry Christmas!
We sing songs - with radio stations dedicating 24/7 playtime from Thanksgiving to Christmas - the 12 days of Christmas has become the 30 days of Christmas!! We've started seeing Christmas displays and some decorations as early as Halloween - in an effort to make the Christmas season MERRY for the retailers! HO HO HO!
I heard it when I put a dollar or two in the red kettle at King Soopers - stopped and talked a few times with the bell ringers for Salvation Army at different places. Merry Christmas!
What's merry about this holiday? What sets it apart from other days that capture our imaginations and make us happy?
Let me just say a word about what makes this season different, ... Merry!
No matter what our circumstances, the news that God himself has taken up our cause ... has come to stand along side us ... has offered himself to us ... fully, with no guarantees ... no strings attached. The reason we are here tonight and the reason over a billion celebrate this night is that because of Jesus, born in Bethlehem of Judah, from Nazareth of Galilee, raised a carpenter become itinerant preacher in Israel, 2000+ years ago; because of this Jesus, we are given a gift beyond our wildest imaginations.
We have been given, through this child and who he was among us and what he did during his 33 years here and how he died, a gift of unimaginable riches, of incomparable wealth, of untold treasure - IN HIM.
We say MERRY but the Bible calls it "joy unspeakable and full of glory!" That is the weight behind the word, MERRY.
Paul tells us that nothing we can experience here on earth can outweigh this glory! It outshines everything that we can see with our eyes! It outweighs all the sorrows and pain, all the sickness and surgery, all the cancer and yes, even the darkness of death. As we experienced earlier this week, the saying is true ... "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?" All has been out weighed - out shined by the life, death and resurrection of this little baby child.
MERRY doesn't even touch it, friends. We are so much more than Merry, because of Jesus -- because of Christ mass.
The center of Christmas is CHRIST! The never ending power behind Christmas is CHRIST JESUS - EMMANUEL - GOD WITH US. No matter how our culture would like to displace him, I revel in the fact that as I drive around from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I can, at almost any time hear the story of this amazing gift in the music of the season ... of the hymns and Christmas songs on the radio. Sure there is a lot of sentimental goo but every now and again you hear O Holy Night, or Silent Night, or Joy to the World, or Angels We Have Heard on High. You hear Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas declaring Luke 2 to be the REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS!
(Christ candle processes to center of church - church is darkened of all lights)
The songs we sing on this night tell a never-ending story, and no matter how hard we work to cover it over with decorations, with tinsel, with piles of presents - nor how the weight and tragedies of life try to drown our joy, to kill our spirits, or annihilate our hearts - Christ stands at the center of it all with a light that will not - that cannot be quenched! If we just look to Him as the Center of our lives, He gives us the light to walk in this land of darkness and distraction.
(lighting of candles)
Thus we come to reflect His glory! A glory, as the Gospel tells us, that is from the Father's One and Only Son! That light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it! And so we say to one another, Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Alleluia, and Merry Christmas.