Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
December 25, 2016 – Year C
Readings: Is 9:1-6 / Psalm 96 / Ti 2:11-14 / Lk 2:1-14
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
I love Christmas music. I start listening to it at the beginning of Advent, and I listen to it all the way through Advent and Christmas, all the way up to the Baptism of the Lord. This started when I was a little boy. My parents had an assortment of Christmas albums and I had a little record player, and I would sit and I play them over and over. And my parents had everything from “Oh Holy Night” to “Blue Christmas” by Elvis. I think I wore those albums out. This year one particular song got stuck in my head throughout the whole month of December. That song is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
Now I suspect the reason it got stuck in my head was because for most of the last five weeks, I’ve been out of town for work. I’ve been working in North Carolina installing some equipment. I’ve gotten to come home on weekends, but I’ve really missed being with my family in preparation for Christmas.
Because this song was stuck in my head, I’m sure it had a lot to do with one thing I’ve noticed in the Gospel. This is probably one of the most loved passages in Scripture. I know when I was little, I could almost recite it from memory. But one thing I had never noticed about the Nativity story was that at its core, it’s a story about a homecoming. Joseph lived away, but because of the census, he had to travel back to his hometown, the town of his forefathers. He traveled with Mary, and I’m sure it was not an easy journey. I’m sure the road was clogged with carts and wagons and donkeys and people going to and from. I’m sure the travel was pretty frustrating, and probably many of you who have been on the road over the past week can relate to that.
But the story of this homecoming is also the story of a reunion. It’s not just a reunion in the sense of a family coming back together. You see, at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, we hear the story of creation. We hear the story of Adam and Eve. We hear the story of their fall from Grace. In these stories we learn that we were created for one thing, and that was to be in communion with God. But through sin, we have lost that, and it’s become much more difficult for us to achieve it. We instinctively know this. We feel at our core that there is something missing.
We can choose to try to fill that void with things of this world. But ultimately, in the end, all of that falls short. Saint Augustine put it the best I’ve ever heard. In the beginning of his book The Confessions, he is writing to God and he writes, “You have formed us for yourselves, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
You see God on that night in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. He started the reunion. He chose us to meet us where we were. He became flesh. He became incarnate. He became one of us, to be with us, and to call us to a reunion with Him. The shepherds probably didn’t know it when they went to Bethlehem, but they began their reunion that night.
We begin that reunion today. We are together with God. We are here today with our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we are the Body of Christ. Our Lord Jesus promised us that wherever two or more are gathered, He’s there too. And that journey home continues throughout this life. It will not completely come to an end until we are called home to live in joy with God forever in Heaven.
So this year, my prayer for each one of you, is that no matter where you travel in this world, you always remain home with the Lord.