Christmas Day Lessons and Carols with Meditations
First Lesson: Micah 5:2-4 – Prophecy of Bethlehem
Where is this great work of God to happen? In that little town? That insignificant place? God is showing up in a place that most just pass by?
If this one is expected to stand strong, to feed the sheep, to help everyone feel secure, there will need to be a much bigger show of force, a grander entrance. That is what the world pays attention to. That is what impresses folks, grabs their attention, and gets them to follow.
Anything small goes ignored. It is judged of little worth. It will never be a power broker.
But it is that little town. Not just little town, but barn in that little town where God shows up. Where the work begins. Makes us wonder where else God is showing up. What other places that we see as weak, insignificant, of little worth is God showing up, inhabiting, working through?
Carol: Once in Royal David’s City v. 1, 2
Second Lesson: Isaiah 35: 1-7 – Jesse’s Stump/Blooming Wilderness
How is this great work of God to happen? From a dead tree? No, worse, the stump of a tree that has been cut off, that sits there lifeless, taking up ground, it should be pulled out and burned. But God sees promise in it. God sees hope and future where we see death and despair. We see barren wilderness, God sees garden. We see desert, God sees pools of water.
Perhaps if we start seeing with God’s eyes, we will truly see life in that little pool of water in the font. We will see Christ presence in the bread and the wine. We will hear God’s merciful voice in the reading of the word. We will see Christ in the face of the other, the stranger, the refugee, the homeless one.
When we start seeing life even in the midst of death, we will see that we are alive in Christ though we are broken and failing. And we will see that God can and is working through us even when we feel like a dead stump or a hopelessly barren wilderness.
Carol: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
Third Lesson: Luke 1:26-38 – Annunciation
Who is called to participate in this great work of God? A teenage girl, a peasant from a village of peasants? We city dwellers know and understand the world so much better than one like her. Not only does she lack experience, she must also lack education, and formal training of any kind. And yet God has chosen her, is working through her, is joining with her so that God’s kingdom might come near to us all. Well, if God can pick her and work through her, God must be able to work through just about anyone.
And there it is. Anyone. Teenage girls, confused carpenters, fisherman and tax collectors, women and children, cranky old men and heads-in-the-cloud young men. Anyone.
All that is required of us is to say YES to the work of the kingdom. And even that yes is the work of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit. So there’s a good chance God is working through us and we don’t even know it. Because God will work through anyone.
Carol: The Peace Carol
Fourth Lesson: Luke 1:39—56 – Visitation and Magnificat
Why visit the old relative with the news of this great work of God? Why not shout your news to the world, Mary? Oh, right. God has put her in a most difficult, dangerous even, position. She is unwed and pregnant. She could have been stoned to death for that. Where can she go? To one who will understand. To one who can confirm what God is doing through her. Elizabeth will know. And know she does. It is the work of God that leaps in her when she is greeted by another who is an instrument of God’s work.
Faith is not for the weak of heart or the solo traveler. Faith is best nourished and nurtured in community, in conversation, in the confirmation of a fellow worker. Where the work of God in me, encounters the work of God in you and there is leaping for joy and songs of praise. There is inspiration that opens our eyes to visions of God’s world flipping kingdom of justice, mercy, and peace.
Let us walk, eat, talk, learn, listen, pray, sing, change the world in Jesus’ name, together.
Carol: Unexpected and Mysterious
Fifth Lesson: Luke 2:1-7 – Jesus is born
When is this great work of God to happen? In the midst of a major governmental action? While the young couple is on the road, far from home, far from any family support? Couldn’t be more inconvenient. It couldn’t be more of a challenge.
But this is the world that God is entering. Not the luxury of a palace. Not the well-planned of the powerful. Not the comforts of the wealthy. God is entering our world, taking on our flesh, living our life of hardship, unpredictability, detours, and change.
Behold God, the baby born in a barn, the homeless refugee sleeping with the animals, subject of a mighty empire, and yet, Immanuel – God with us. God with us all the time, on mountain tops and on the tedious plain. In green pastures of plenty and in the valley of death.
Immanuel is born now – God is with us always.
Carol: Away in the Manger
Sixth Lesson: Luke 2:8-20 Shepherds visited and visit
To whom is this great work of God proclaimed? To those uncouth, unwashed, uneducated ruffians of the fields? Certainly a better invitation list could be drawn up. Some dignitaries could be attracted to attend such a significant event. Even a B-list celebrity would be better than these guys. More appropriate. Draw the kind of attention that one would welcome. What kind of statement will this inclusiveness make?
The shepherds are the overture, the pre-cursor, the first of the last ones that this baby will reach out to in welcome throughout his life that lies ahead. His reputation begins on day one. A reputation that will see him labeled friend of sinners, glutton and drunk, unclean and lawless. This first invitation proclaims him deeply committed to building this reputation.
And it continues to grow even today. For he reaches out to the likes of us. He welcomes us. He invites us to his table and dines with us. Let us join with those other ruffians and glorify and praise God for all the we have seen and heard.
Carol: Angels We have Heard On High
Seventh Lesson: John 1:1-14
Carol: Let All Together Praise Our God