Friday, December 24, 2010
click on any image above to view it in larger format and/or click on the arrow below to view the video of the Christmas Eve sermon by Pastor Sue Gross.
A Child Will Be Born
Christmas Eve Sermon by Pastor Sue Gross
Rev. Sue Gross began her message with a reference to having seen a production of Waiting For Godot, sometimes described as an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait vainly for someone named Godot. However, in the production witnessed by Pastor Sue, the interpretation was that Godot actually represented God, so the other two characters were, in fact, waiting for God, which resulted in an entirely different slant.
In this version, the two major speaking characters are in a one-sided discussion about two thieves on a cross, one of whom is saved. These two characters eventually agree on an absurd conclusion: They will kill themselves if Godot/God does not actually arrive. The obvious conclusion: If God does arrive, they will be saved, as was one of the thieves. The Pastor's point: Some are still waiting for God!
The good news, said Pastor Sue, is that no one need look any further than Bethlehem because the Jewish prophet Isaiah long ago--before the actual event--prophesied the birth of Jesus.
To us a Child is born, wonderful counselor, Mighty God, born in a manger because there was no room at the inn.
Here Pastor Sue mentioned that, during her visit to the Holy Land, she visited Shepherd's Field, where the shepherds were chosen to be the first to learn of the birth of the Son of God in a cave, symbolic of poverty, not honor. Luke tells us the story, reminded Pastor Sue, of how the shepherds were filled with fear despite the angelic message of great joy to the world.
All this, she said, came together for us in Bethlehem. What was joined together? The song of the angels and the Son of God.
Let us remember, she said, that the Savior is here for us, all of us, and the melody of the angels is a personal call to each of us.
Let us remember, too, the sign this event provides: a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. We should regard all this as up close and personal for the entire world, including each of us. God is not some abstract theological entity: Rather, God is very real.
Let us remember also that the angelic song is a song for us, bringing the news of the great joy of Christmas, another point that we should take as very up front and personal. The song is sung for all. It's a song that should also be sung by us to represent the good news of our Savior, the good news of our Sign, and the good news of our Song.
At this point, Pastor Sue related an anecdote about a TV version of a William Faulkner story titled Tomorrow, in which a cotton farmer (played by Robert Duvall) helps a woman deliver her baby, then builds a crib for the newborn baby. The mother, who realizes she is dying, asks the cotton farmer to care for the baby as if the baby was his own, and he agrees to do so. The mother, satisfied with his answer, tells the cotton farmer that the baby was born for him, a metaphor perhaps for the Christ Child who was born for all of us. To read more about Tomorrow, please click on the title of this Weblog post at the top of the page.
The Pastor concluded her message with a final anecdote about a young mother who is so busy reading her baby book that she neglects her crying baby, but is reminded by her own mother to put down the book and pick up the baby, perhaps another metaphor for how all of us should regard the Christ Child.