This is the short homily I shared Christmas Day with the people of St Timothy and St. Mark Lutheran Churches. The scripture text was Luke 2:8-20.
In this passage from Luke, we see the angels appearing not to the elite and rich. They appeared to shepherds, who were one of the lowest on the societal totem pole. Shepherds were looked down upon even to the point where their testimony was not allowed in a court of law. Once again, God turned the world upside down by appearing to nobodies and giving them news of earth shaking possibilities. Don't we see that happen in today's world--where God moves outside of our perfect little boxes and does something totally unexpected or appears to the most unacceptable?
We can be sure that if we are open to possibilities, God will appear to us in any number of ways. After all, Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us He brings “good news of great joy [to] all the people.”
I'm sure some of our gifts have already been been opened and it is likely there are still more to come. There's the excitement of everyone guessing just what their gifts may be. Have you ever opened a gift and it was exactly the very thing you wanted? It doesn't get much better than that, does it? It can be such a exciting time. Isn't that what Christmas is all about? Yes, its about the birth of Jesus as a baby, but it goes much deeper than that. Jesus is the greatest gift that God could ever give his people. "God so loved the world, that he gave the world his own son, so that all who would believe in him, would have eternal life" (John 3:16}.
Now THAT'S a gift!
God's gift of life is for each and every one of us. God makes us his own in baptism, feeds us with the gift of holy communion and surrounds us with a church family of faith each day of our lives.
God wants to have an intimate relationship with us. We can ignore God, despite the many gifts he has given us, especially the gift of His Son, But he's going to keep reaching out to us again and again and again until we respond to him.
So, what do we do with this great gift that God has given us? We share it with others. As the spiritual says, "Go tell it on the mountain over the hills and everywhere that Jesus Christ is born."