In many Christian communities, Christmas is not over. The season is only beginning on December 25 and continues for 12 more days. You know the song “On the first day of Christmas gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree…” And on and on.
Today, we remember the Christmas story in a new way. First, hearing the story as presented in Scripture. It’s one of those stories, if you look and listen hard enough, you will find yourself in it. Which one of the characters are you at the end of this year. Are you delirious with joy like those shepherds were? Are you still searching, looking for answers? Trying to discover where God is in the midst of it all-like the Magi? Are you like Mary who waits and obeys the call of God? Or like the camels who have born the load of their masters? Or like Joseph, he has a family to care for and a living to be made.
The story of Christ’s birth is the same as our lives. All the mundane tasks of living are a part of it as well. We read the narrative of Jesus’ birth every year. But the passage also reads us as well. It has all kinds of human, ordinary truths embedded within it. Also about ordinary people trying to respond to God’s call.
This morning, we are going to have three brief stories. Tales about people living in the midst of whatever life has to offer. One is a young minister right after the Christmas Eve service. He is caring for his neighbor’s sheep and suddenly he realizes where he is. The second brief story is of two young children at the first Christmas after their father has taken his own life. They have just come from a Christmas eve service and they remember a funny kind of word that was sung in a hymn. Finally the third story is at the “Out of the Cold” in St. Catharines on one stormy Christmas Eve when Mary and Joseph came through our doors.
The author of the first two stories is Fredrick Buechner. They are from two of his works: Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized and The Wizards Tide. The third story is Out of the Cold by yours truly.
Each one contains an insight about what nativity is all about. And also how the human and the sacred often overlap and intermingle often unknown to us.