Christmas Eve/Christmas Day: December 24 & 25, 2020

November 16, 2020 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa

In the frequent times that my late maternal grandmother would sleep over our home on Saturday nights, it was her voice, “Time for church. Time to wake up” that roused me from bed to get ready for the weekly ritual to join God’s people for worship and fellowship. In the weekdays when I was young and up to now, it is the blaring sound of the alarm clock that declared the morning’s dawn. When I visit my paternal grandparents in the Philippines, at about 5:30am, it is the sound of the crowing rooster, “Cock-a-doodle doo” that wakes the barangay (Tagalog for village) to begin the day. For my guy cousins and me growing up, and then for my sister and me when she was born, knowing that it was Christmas morning and the prospect of running downstairs to the tree was enough for us to awaken.

What awakens you? What awakens God’s people today to the reality that the Savior of the world has been born and is born in our hearts, and is here and now, and rules and reigns over the nations, and is the Lord of heaven and earth and everything and everyone in it, even if conditions and circumstances around us seem to say otherwise?

Psalm 98 speaks into the world’s loudness declaring that the Lord is victorious, that the decisive victory of God’s love over all powers and principalities is complete and that means there is to be singing, but not just any singing. It’s a new song – both in degree and in kind. In degree, in that the singing is to be louder and deeper and wider because of the comprehensiveness of God’s love and of God’s victory. In kind, in that the singing is remarkable because it comes out of restoration and renewal and rebirth. Each time, each day that we are made aware of God’s love, when we are reawakened to the presence and power of God, when we are forgiven, when we are healed, those are occasions for a new kind of song than the last time a song of praise was sung because the new or renewed condition takes on a new fervor, an ardent passion because of that answered prayer, of a loss that was comforted, of a decision guided by wisdom, of a hurt that was healed. Notice the degree and kind of singing and rejoicing that occurs: in verses 4-6, the psalmist summons the earth and then to the musical trumpets; it’s an orchestral symphony of humans in partnership with God’s creation. Then in verses 7-9, it’s full on God’s creation – the sea, the world, the floods, the hills, the earth. And all are proclaiming with crescendo, that God’s righteousness, God’s justice is here; wrongs will be righted, the oppressed will be freed.

The world is reset back to the beginning with these opening words from the Gospel according to John, “In the beginning was the Word . . . .” This hearkens back to Genesis, “In the beginning, God.” There’s no better place to go than restarting by going back to the start. This is not about flipping back in high school yearbooks to have nostalgia of the past or to somehow re-live one’s childhood; this is about recalibrating our lives to the core of who we are, to go back from whence, or from whom we originate. The Word became flesh, who is light, through whom all creation came, the One rejected by his own, the One who is received not by human will but by the will of God – that One exhibits the glory, grace and truth of God. God’s righteousness, God’s justice, God’s steadfast love are not entities, nor commodities, nor philosophies, nor good ideas nor good values. They are all embodied in the person of Jesus the Christ: in who he is, in what he does, and in what he says. He is both the start, the finish, and everything in-between, the Alpha and the Omega.

That’s what we anticipate today and everyday: the comprehensiveness of God’s steadfast love, the depth and length of God, who in Jesus Christ brings us back to the beginning of what life is all about, what we are about – children of God, to whom the Word has become flesh.