The Glory of the Lord Shone Around Them

Homily for Christmas Eve (Year B)
December 24, 2020
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 4:30 PM
Sacred Heart, EGF –10:00 PM

Focus:             The glory of the Lord shone around them.
Function:       Come and behold him.  Come and see his glory.

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

He was no stranger to the darkness. No, he was used to it. He had kept the night watch many times before.

The shepherd.

Watching, keeping vigil, staying alert. 

His eyes scanned the field before him, waiting for the first sign of trouble but hoping that there wouldn’t be any.

Watching for the wolf.

Keeping an eye on the wayward sheep – the one wayward sheep who always tried to wander off, and who would bring half the herd along with him when he did.

That wayward sheep was not so unlike the people of his own nation.  They continually wandered off, wandered into idolatry, meandered into sins that soon enslaved them and brought about their captivity.

Like himself, like his sheep, they were a people who walked in darkness. They had been invaded, deported, and returned.  They were a people living in a land of gloom who longed for a glimpse of glory. They were a people who had seen despair and longed for hope.

They were not so unlike us.

The shepherd was not so unlike you or me.

We, too, long for hope.
We, too, long for light.

We long for an end to the darkness that has enshrouded us over this past year. 
We long for an end to divisions and for the Kingdom of God to break in ever brighter. 
We long for an end to the darkness of evil and for the light of goodness to prevail.
We long to know that God is near, that we are not alone, that we are loved and cared for
We long for forgiveness and for reconciliation.  We long for restoration of broken relationships.

We long for the glory days, the days of old when we never realized how good we had it. 
We long for the glory of God.

Tonight, the shepherd is changed by the glory that he has seen.

Tonight, we, too, are changed by the glory we see.

What is this glory that we see?

A child in a manger.  He is the glory of God.  Our savior is born. The prophecies of old are fulfilled. 

God is with us. Emmanuel.

He has not abandoned us. 
He has become one of us,
has become one of us to save all of us,
to save each of us,
to save me.

The glory of this night is the glory of eternity.  My sins will not be my condemnation. 
Tonight there is mercy.
Tonight there is forgiveness.
Tonight there is tenderness – the tenderness of God displayed in the radiant face of a newborn babe.
Tonight, the grace of God has appeared, and nothing will stop that grace, that glory, from breaking in.

Tonight, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

The people of Israel, yes.
Shepherds in the field, yes.

But also us.

We are also the people who have walked in darkness,
trudging down the darkened streets of loneliness and isolation,
feeling very much alone.

But the mystery of this night, brothers and sisters, is that we are never alone.

God is with us.  Emmanuel.  The child born for us tonight reminds us that no matter what darkness we may walk through in this world, God is with us.

God knows us.  God loves us. God acts in this world. 

God enters into our world,
into our humanity,
in the dark of night,
to bring light to those of us who have walked in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to shine a light in the midst of a land of gloom.

Tonight the glory of God gleams all around us like the glory of freshly fallen snow glistening under lampposts in the dark of night.

Tonight, a child is born for us.  A son is given us.  The Son of God takes on flesh so that our flesh might take on the glory of eternity.

Brothers and sisters, come and glimpse his glory.

Come with the shepherds to the stable.  Come and behold him.  Look into the radiance of his face.  See in this child the presence of God.

The shepherds saw his glory and they were changed forever.  How could they not be?

The glory of Christmas is that we can come and behold our God.  We can come to see him, and in seeing him, in glimpsing his glory, we too will be changed forever.  We will be filled with his peace.

Jesus is here now just as he was here then.  We just have to look for him. 

Come and behold him,
born the king of angels

O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
Christ the Lord.

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