Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sermon for Christmas Day 2008

You are the apple of God’s eye!

Merry Christmas!
Today, as we all know, is Christmas Day.

As Episcopalians
we celebrate Christmas for much longer than one day.

That’s not because we start the celebration early—
we don’t start celebrating Christmas the day after Halloween—
even though that’s when Christmas decorations and candy
seem to appear in the stores.

Instead, we have this wonderful season of waiting and expectation
called Advent.
It gives us time to purposefully prepare,
to get excited, to look forward.

But NOW the waiting is over!
Christmas is here!
The really good news for us?
Christmas lasts awhile!
We don’t’ have to let this joy
just swoop in and swoop out.
We get to enjoy Christmas for twelve days.

Tomorrow officially begins the twelve days of Christmas.
from December 26 to January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.
Most of us know at least a few of the verses of
The Twelve Days of Christmas.
The song is about quite an extravagant list of gifts--
from a partridge in a pear tree to twelve drummers drumming.

I think there is something about extravagant gifts
that has a lot to do with the real meaning of Christmas.

The message and the meaning is NOT
that we need to go out and try to buy extravagant gifts..
The message and the meaning IS
that we have already received the most extravagant gift possible.

We receive the love of God
and that love comes to us in human form.
This baby.
This Jesus.

At the heart of this extravagant gift is this message:
God loves you.
God loves me.
God loves each and every one of us.
more than we can ask or imagine.
And that kind of love--
Love without a long list of conditions--
is almost beyond our imagination.

Yet we are so hungry to be loved in that way!
We should jump with joy!
(Or for those of us who are rather jumping challenged—
shouting with joy will do!)

Because the truth is-
We are the apple of God’s eye.
Yes, you and I—we are the apple of God’s eye.
Could we possibly receive a better gift than that?

Imagine if we went out into the world
and said to someone,
You know, the checker at Ingles,
the woman behind the counter at the dry cleaners,
the dental hygienist who cleans our teeth:
What if we really said to someone,
You are the apple of God’s eye!

I wonder how the world might change.
I wonder how we might change.

What if we looked ourselves in the mirror each morning and said,
Wow! I am the apple of God’s eye!

I wonder how our day might be different.
I wonder how we might treat others differently.

That phrase--the apple of God’s eye-- is found in many places in the Bible
but one that I am very drawn to is from Deuteronomy (32:10):

He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness;
he led him about, he instructed him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.

God often finds us in a desert land, wandering in the wilderness.
Repeatedly God comes to us.
God finds us.
God waits for us.
God is right there.

One reason.

God loves us.
We are the apple of God’s eye.

That is the good news that Jesus brings to us,
beginning on this day, this Christmas Day.
That is the good news that is too big, too much, too wonderful--
to only celebrate for one day.
The Christmas party goes on now for 12 days.

The real truth is
The party goes on for ever and ever .
One reason.
You are the apple of God’s eye.
That is the Good News of Jesus Christ.

As you leave today,
You will find the manger at the back of the church
right by the baptismal font.
It’s filled with apples.

Take two as you leave.

One apple is for you.
Remember how much God loves you:
You are the apple of God’s eye.

One is for you to give away to someone--
someone who needs to know how much God loves them.

Jesus came into the world so that we might really believe
we are the apple of God’s eye.

Merry Christmas!
Merry, merry Christmas!

No comments: