I've written this sermon for 30 years now. Not only is each week a fresh challenge to find something profound to write, and then speak, to people waiting for encouragement; each year brings around this familiar set of texts, and these texts take my mind to the same old places. Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem. Jesus is born in and laid in a manger. Shepherds and wise men visit. John reminds us that the Word became flesh, and we didn't recognize him.
I guess what I am saying is, it's easy to feel like these Christmas truths are at best familiar territory--and at worst tired lessons. Was Christ born anew this year? Is there anything fresh in my spirit after having led a congregation through another advent--a full lap around the advent wreath's four candles before lighting the Christ Candle at almost midnight on Christmas eve? Or did I return home, stuff stockings and hit the bed as if I'd clicked off another pastoral obligation?
I'm guessing most of us have put away our Christmas decorations this weekend. Our tree is outside in the cold, and the gift wrap is all thrown away. But across the living room from me--on a gate-leg table--shepherds are bowing before a king. A mother and father are standing back in awe of what God has done. And even the cattle, a donkey and some sheep seem unusually aware that something big has happened.
I'm trying to experience Christmas as I hit it's second Sunday tomorrow. Hope I didn't miss it the first time around. And if so, I hope to find it yet--tucked away somewhere beyond my habit-bound-heart, in the fresh flesh of my seeking spirit.