CHRISTMAS SERMON 2014|
December 24th 2014 St. Peters Church
”The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 118: 23, 29.
The day is coming to an end. Soon night will be here. Just like every other day. But this day is special. Christmas Eve. Christmas night.
Many stories begin with the words „once upon a time“.
Once upon a time, in little Bethlehem, the day must have begun like any other. Good for some, not so good for many others. Some cried about their poor health. Some were poor and had nothing to eat. There were also others who had everything, who were happy with everything. But the situation in the world at that time was frightening. How to survive, when the empire one lived in was increasingly constricting. Those, who knew what the prophets were writing and saying were worried about the future of the people. It is our life, our land, our people, our religion, that the foreign power was oppressing. Even Kyrenius, the Roman’s ambassador’s future was uncertain. The freedom fighters kept him on his toes.
And in the midst of this the day was becoming night. Everything is intensified at night. Thoughts, pain and worries. But night comes nevertheless and along with it, the cold. Decent people were at home. But there were many migrants. A new horror – the recording of citizens. So that taxes could be paid.
But all of a sudden things became strange. Nobody felt joy about the birthday of the Tax Office. And worries disappeared. In a stable in Bethlehem something happened. A child was born, was wrapped up and placed in a manger to sleep. Shepherds came to see the child. As if shepherds always came to greet newborns. But this time they had to come. An angel sent them to find this newborn child. Shepherds were not used to seeing angels. They were shocked. But they went, ignoring their shock, to see what had happened. Because the angel said „fear not“. And there he was, baby Jesus in a manger.
The night was cold but a strange warmth and light could be felt. They could not remember why they were afraid. They watched the sleeping baby. Baby Jesus.
And here we are today, several thousand years later. We have also come to Bethlehem, because we were told something will happen today.
The world today is also unstable and many worry what will happen. Many remember when times were bad. When they had to flee their homeland 70 years ago. When a foreign power took over and the religion of their ancestors was forbidden along with public celebrations of Christmas. When curtains were drawn so that Christmas lights could not be seen on the street – just in case. When you went to church in the dark so nobody could see you and report you.
But the prophets of the day said „fear not“. Churches were full of people wanting to see baby Jesus. To wish each other well, to remember old times, while lighting the candles on the Christmas tree.
Those who escaped to the west celebrated Christmas in the manner of their ancestors. Reading the holy gospel in Estonian, making sült and blood sausage, while longing for those who remained behind or perished.
The words of the prophets have come true - „fear not!“ The love of God prevails.
In 2014 we wish each other a peaceful Christmas or Christmas peace. Is there peace in this world? Just like in Bethlehem some worry about inflation, some about war.
Everywhere you hear „Step right up! Christmas spirit for sale!“. Buy yourself a perfect Christmas. Just pay at the counter. And people do it.
But Christmas cannot be bought or made. It existed long before us. All we can do is enhance it. Christmas is for all of us. Jesus is for all of us. Bethlehem is for all of us. And all of a sudden we are like the shepherds, like those who braved the cold, because it was impossible not to come.
We are those, who with bright eyes say this gift is for us, so that we can have peace. So that happiness is not a dream, but a natural part of life. Our own life.
Love and happiness are treasures that grow only when we dare to share them with others. The world is like it is. How can it be otherwise? But today we can say in the words of the psalmists: It has come from God, it is a miracle. A miracle that makes our eyes shine bright. Today, we can rejoice.
A blessed Christmas to all!
Rev. Mart Salumäe
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