Christmas Eve 2013!

Good morning all!  Merry Christmas Eve! Today is the last blog of this season. Hope you have found it to be helpful to your own journey.

Today’s scripture: Luke 2:1-20 (NRSV)

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered.  Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

When I got up this morning, I glanced at my inbox before beginning the morning blog.  There was an email with the subject line “Moments of Awe Make us Better People.”  This email came from Good Magazine. They send out an email that they name “the Daily Good.”  I had to open this article.  Jason Silva wrote an article about how studies show that when we take in moments of awe (as shown by a study done by Stanford) our brains are “reset” in a way.  When we give into the sheer overwhelmingness of awe we are left better people. “The study reported increased feelings of well-being, increased compassion, and increased altruism.”  Awe helps us to be better people all around. Seeking inspiration makes us more compassionate.
When I was a little girl Christmas was all about the awe.  There seemed to be magic in the air.  Watching Christmas movies only left me more awe inspired. Reading the Christmas story up above inspired me to know end.  God enters the world.  How amazing!  On Christmas eve, it would be tortuous to wait for all of the activities to begin.  To get ready for church. To eat with the family. And then that moment when we held candles and sang Silent night.  I would be so full of awe.
Then we would make our way home and read about the magic of Christmas through the lens of Polar Express.  My brothers would head to bed but my dad and I headed back to church for the 11pm service.  This was full of pure magic for me.  The Sanctuary lights would be just so.  Singing Christmas carols and hearing the story again made it even more inspiring.  And then after worship, I would head to bed (where all three brothers had gathered in my room…we couldn’t wait apart. It is far more exciting to wait together).  I would know that God was transforming the world just then.  The story worked on me. Christmas morning created a better person in me.
But some of us have lost that awe.  We forgot just how mystical and magical the biblical story can be.  It has become routine for us.  Some of us put on the Christmas movies now out of obligation and listen in the background as we prep food or wrap presents.  Routine.  Christmas Eve services become work instead of inspiration.  And tomorrow will come just like any other day.
Did we forget the angels of the heavenly host?  Did we forget that they came to lowly shepherds? Could that be more inspiring and full of awe?
Did we forget about how God breaks through our lives anyway?  Tonight I hope you lend yourself a little bit back to the magic.  Today I hope you lean into compassion and let yourself be awed a little. Remember the story and just how amazing it all is.   God puts Godself on earth in the form of the most unlikely character, a baby.  Angels sing. Shepherds kneel. And a young unwed mother basks in the light of her child.  Let yourself get inspired today and come out a better person tomorrow. 🙂
And if nothing else….enjoy this…(did you think I wouldn’t post this video this Christmas?)…
Peace and awe,
Courtney
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