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Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Dear friends, dear beloved of God, grace to you and peace from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

So, how are you? Where are you tonight? My hope is that you know that you are not alone. And if you are by yourself,

I hope and pray that you know that all of us, your brothers and sisters in Christ love you; and of course, most importantly,

that God loves you!

How are you? A simple question that is perhaps not so easily answered this year. Living in this time in which we are; a time of political and economic unrest has left us hurting, anxious, fearful.

And, of course, Covid 19 has changed our lives; we are separated from loved ones, perhaps we are grieving the deaths of those close to us who have been taken from us too soon.

And maybe, we are missing so much of what we have come to take from granted: including Christmas Eve and celebrating the birth of Jesus, of being together with family and friends, of worshiping together, of seeing the decorations in the church,

of singing together. Maybe, like me; you are missing a night illumined with the light of candles and glowing faces. This night dressed in greens and reds. This night given voice with wondrous song and singing. Tonight, I am missing singing together with all of you.

At Christmas time we sing such beautiful songs: carols that are old and new, songs whose melodies and words have come to mean so much to us:

Good Christian friends, rejoice

with heart and soul and voice;

now ye need not fear the grave;

Jesus Christ was born to save!

Calls you one and calls you all

to gain the everlasting hall.

Christ was born to save!

Christ was born to save!

O little town of Bethlehem,

how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

the silent stars go by;

yet in thy dark streets shineth

the everlasting light.

The hopes and fears of all the years

are met in thee tonight.

“Silent night, holy night; shepherds quake at the sight; glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing alleluia. Christ the Savior is born!”

“Come to Bethlehem and see him whose birth the angels sing; come adore on bended knee Christ the lord, the newborn king. Gloria in excelsis Deo!

We know these songs! And it doesn’t matter how well we sing them; the beauty and love radiate out of them because of what they say, how they tell the story of Jesus Christ. We sing these songs at Christmas time, but the meaning, the good news proclaimed in these carols, is for all time and all places and for all people.

Friends, I really hope that you have been singing along at home, with your family, maybe by yourself. Maybe you aren’t up to singing tonight. Maybe it is hard to even speak. Maybe tonight there are more tears and weeping than smiles and joyous song.

But please know, that even though we are not together in one building, our voices are joined together in singing of the birth of Jesus!

Not only are we singing. But tonight; tonight, sisters and brothers; this very night; we hear and experience God singing;

God singing the song that began before time began and will never end.

We hear God singing the song of Jesus Christ, born this night: Jesus Christ, Son of Man, son of God. God Incarnate;

God made flesh. Immanuel; God with us.

We hear the song of God singing the song of Jesus Christ; who had dominion over all things, all time, all space, who on the cross defeated the power of sin and darkness and death once and for all.

We hear the song of the Christ, who comes to us this night not in splendor and glory and might, but as a baby born in a manger; not in majesty and strength, but as a baby born; a vulnerable, weak, new-born baby.

The angels joined in the song, proclaiming this birth;

not to the rich and powerful and mighty,

not to the religious leaders or the rulers of the day,

but to people like you and me; shepherds out in the night, working, tending their sheep, people considered to be outsiders,

people who were poor.

This song of God, is good news of great joy for all people,

all people; not just those of us gathered together this night,

but all people; for those who mourn, for those who are hurting,

for those who are sick, for those who are lonely, for those battling addictions, for those who despair, for those, including us, who are sinners, for those of different languages and customs and color who have been beaten down,

for those who are young and who are old,

for those who are weak and those who are strong,

for those who laugh and sing with joy,

for those whose voices are ones of lament.

This song is one of great joy and good news; good news that Jesus Christ is born, good news of God’s love for all God creates made real, made flesh in this new born babe.

God’s song never ends!

God’s song is sung by all for all time;

Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth!

Dear friends, it is my hope for all of us that we continue to be blessed by this song of God’s love. Let our ears and eyes and all our senses be opened so that we hear and see and taste the beauty and wonder of God’s good news for us, for all of us; the good news of God’s Son, whose presence with us now never ends, whose birth, happening over 2000 years ago in a little out of the way town called Bethlehem, becomes new and real for all every day.

Dear friends, let us add our voices to this song of God.

Let us add our voices to those of angels and saints, to those who are strong and those who are weak, to those who have gone before us, and those who are to come after us. Gloria in excelsis Deo!

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