Hope is Born – Christmas Eve 2013

Christmas Eve MNThe Christmas story reads like a children’s story – that is until you pause and look closely.  Then the elements of the story start to stick out a bit for their unusual quality; for their rough surface and seedy underbelly.

A teenaged girl gets knocked up before she gets married.  A thing punishable by death.  At the very least, she’s shunned.  Joseph hasn’t got it much better either.  Mary’s unsure of what the angel says and is afraid.  And, can we just acknowledge how frightening it would be to be visited by an angel and given news that absolutely turns your life upside down?

The world Jesus was born into was a mess.  That O Holy Night, that stable bathed in the inky blackness of the dark night was at a time when things were a terrible, political, war-torn mess.  Sound familiar?  The Jewish temple had been destroyed.  A people trampled and exiled, their hope squashed.

Jesus was only days old when Mary and Joseph were warned that he was already being sought out to be killed.  And let’s not forget their journey to Bethlehem was to fill out paperwork and stand in lines to be counted by the government.

But this is just the kind of place where hope is born:

in the darkness of social and political upheaval.

in the chaos of change.

in the depths of despair.

This is how God works.  God seeks after us just as God always has.  And God is creative enough to know how to really get to us.  God put on skin. God poured out Godself into Jesus.  And sent him to be born into a world that would hate him.

And angels sing and shepherds whoop it up! And we gather and sing hopeful, joyful songs, each of us coming from our own dark places, our own depths where even we’ve seen a glimmer of hope:

hope seen for the person in recovery in not drinking today.

hope seen through the evidence of living even after your most dear one has died.

hope lived out in forgiveness offered when it wasn’t deserved

hope alive and well in the midst of your divorce, your addiction, your struggling marriage, your bad grades, your directionless life, your loneliness.

Jesus is born into the mess of our lives. Into our darkness of our hearts. Into a world that still rejects him.  It’s the most hopeful story there is. And it’s ours. Hope is born again tonight.





  1. Sandy Tracy says

    The entire Christmas Eve service, including this hopeful message from you, has made the holiday season for me. Thank you for your love, your honesty, your candor, and your hope for all of us.