On the way to church tonight, I drove past many churches large and small filling up with people. I would imagine that most of the pastors of these churches will begin their sermons with some variation of, “Over two thousand years ago in a town called Bethlehem a child was born…” Throughout my life, I have heard similar Christmas Eve sermons. Surprisingly, I never grow tired of them. For me, there is something quite magical about calling the attention of modern people to a specific moment in historical time and space and declaring that God was incarnate in a baby named Jesus in Bethlehem.
When you begin to tell the story of historical incarnation…all types of skepticisms arise. It offends modern sensibilities to think that a virgin might give birth. It is ludicrous to imagine the skies filling up with angels to proclaim the newborn God. It is crazy to imagine God taking the form of a human. I am not quite sure that most of you gathered here tonight because you believe such things or even because you want to believe such things. Honestly, I believe many of you came tonight because you thought there might be some love and hope here on this Christmas Eve. I think you were hopeful that there might be an incarnation for you.
I believe in incarnation. I have seen it throughout this year. Whether it was the beauty of performing the wedding of two beautiful women in our church last October or the camaraderie I experienced staying out all night Christmas shopping with one of our church members last night or the long productive counseling sessions I have experienced with so many of you or the embrace of my wife, I have been witness to the incarnation of God. God is love. When we experience love we are experiencing the incarnation of God. Is it too difficult to believe that love was present in that manger there in Bethlehem 2000 years ago? I saw the birth of my third child three weeks ago and it is not too hard for me.
If you want to debate the miracles claimed in the Bible, all you have to do is turn on your television and there will be countless prognosticators and pundits to join you. I don’t think that will get you any closer to what you came here tonight to experience. I don’t have all of the answers. Truthfully, there is no need for answers when you are living in the presence. I only know that God is love. I have experienced it in you. Tonight, you do not have to be afraid or search any longer…just look at the light of the candles all around and follow the light.
Embrace the mystery. Embrace the love. Embrace the incarnation.