Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sermon for Christmas Eve 2007 5 pm Children's Pageant Service

Round yon Virgin Mother and Child

We lived in Virginia at the time.
We were out doing errands and one of those errands
took us to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
I don’t remember what the errand was,
but I do remember there was a long, long line
and we were waiting.

It was going to take awhile.

Our daughter—now almost 33 years old—was about 4 years old at the time.
a complete and total extrovert--
interested in everyone and everything.

As Tom and I stood in line
she went from person to person sitting in the chairs in that waiting room
and struck up a conversation.
We couldn’t hear what she was saying
but we could watch as people listened==
and then laughed.

Finally she was close enough and we heard the story she was telling each person—
My name is Benares.
I live in Greene County, Virginia.
I’m a Virgin.

Tom and I were stunned
I’m a virgin!!???

Where on earth did she get that?
What on earth does she think that means?

I pulled her gently aside and asked her,
“Honey, why are you telling people that you’re a virgin?”

Because, Mommy, we live in Virginia.
Aren’t people who live in Virginia called Virgins?

“No, honey, we’re called Virginians.”

Oh, she replied.

She hestitated a moment and then asked,
So Jesus’ mother wasn’t from Virginia?

Round yon virgin mother and child.

Our young daughter might have misunderstood the meaning of a word,
but she really understood the deep truth of the story.

The story of Jesus and his mother Mary was so very real,
so very feasible to our young daughter,
that surely these people must live just up the road from us in Virginia.
Surely they must be our neighbors.

To our daughter
the people in the Christmas story were very real, very alive.
The people were real enough and important enough
to be just like her.

Holy infant so tender and mild.

Holy infant.
That is the miracle of Christmas.
God’s son was born as one of us,
a human being,
a real live baby.

And isn’t it wonderful—
the world—
and we are part of that world this evening—
still gathers to rejoice in this event,
to share in the wonder of this holy night

You and I are living witnesses to the truth of this story.
This evening—right here at St. John’s—
we saw angels and shepherds and wise men.
Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus were right here.
Right here in Asheville.
We saw them all with our own eyes.
Real. Alive.
They were here.

The story of Christmas eve is our story--
a story given to us almost two thousand years ago.
and we still tell it
just as it was told to us.

We tell it and hear it
and ponder it in our hearts
over and over and over.

The waiting of Advent has ended.
The long awaited Christ child has arrived.

God calls us to go and tell this story,
to share this good and joyful news.

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
For Jesus Christ is born!

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