“The Invitation”
Christmas Eve, Dec 24, 2007

Here we are my friends. We have made it through the hustle and bustle of another Christmas. Tonight all the stores are closed. No more overcrowded malls as we rush to buy that last little thing. Parking lots are empty, the streets are quiet, homes are lit with Christmas decorations, and friends and families have gathered together to share their Christmas joy. Churches all over the world are coming together just as we are tonight, to sing hymns of joy, to hear the Christmas story just one more time. This is why Christmas Eve is my most favourite night of the year.

Bethlehem was certainly not a quiet city the night Jesus was born. It was so busy all the inns were full, and Mary and Joseph sought privacy in a simple stable. There Mary gave birth, in a lowly barn, surrounded not by doctors and machines, but maybe some animals. There was no crib to lay this child in, only a manger… a feeding trough. This is where the angels told the shepherds they would find a Saviour, the Messiah, our Lord. This is where their invitation to find the Christ child would lead them. Not to a palace, not to a temple, but to a stable.

The shepherds left their herds and went to Bethlehem. And when they arrived at the stable,they were amazed that they saw just what the angel had proclaimed. So they shared their story with Mary and Joseph. Mary was touched and comforted by their words. I’m sure she really needed to hear their words after giving birth in the stable. She may have been feeling down, maybe feeling as though she disappointed God somehow by bringing him to this place. But God sent the shepherds to see this child. To reassure Mary and Joseph, that God was pleased, that all was well.

From there the shepherds went back out into the night, still amazed and sharing their story. I suspect after they left, Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus had many visitors that night. They shared the story of their invitation with those they met in the streets and countryside.

The invitation continues today. Every year we hear the Christmas story over and over again. Through the scripture we read, through the carols we sing, “Away in a Manger”, “Silent Night”, “The First Noel” and many, many more. Every year, we remember the birth of our Saviour, and in doing so extend the invitation.

We are invited to be part of this glorious event. To celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ. To be part of the story, the story that is continues to be written. Jesus was born, he died, and rose again. Those of us who believe and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ continue to share in and be part of the story. For in Jesus, we see so much more than just the birth of a child, we also see God. God who came to dwell among us through His Son. God who came to experience the life he created, and to heal and to teach to all His people. God who invites us to be close to Him still today. This invitation is for so much more than to just hear of the birth of Jesus. This invitation is for us to believe, and to follow. This child, born of a virgin in a lowly stable, is the child of God. While he walks the earth no more, Jesus lives with God, and continues to be with us today.

So as we go home, or to be with friends or family, remember the miracle we have heard. Remember the birth of this child, the birth of our Saviour. Remember the shepherds who heard the invitation of the angels and went to see for themselves. And remember, how in their excitement they continued to share the story with so many more. May we go from this place, celebrating, remembering, and sharing in the story of the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Merry Christmas, to one and all.