Sermon for Christmas Eve 2013: Putting the “Mass” Back Into Christmas

It was about a month ago my Father-in-law, Jim, and I put a crib together.

Not just any crib.
The crib for my son, who will be joining us sometime in February.
This crib is where our son will lay his head for the first 2, maybe 3, years of his life.
And as I was looking at this crib, and noticing how beautiful it was, it dawned on me that putting the crib together does not mark an ending.
It marks a beginning.
A new beginning for me, for Kristen, and for our families.
Life as we know it will change forever on or around February 8th.
In a way, putting the crib together was the easy part.
There will be no turning back.

On this night, we too are celebrating a beginning.
The moment when God said, “Time to get to work.”
And that work came in the form of Jesus, his Son.
I invite you to think about that first night as Mary and Joseph looked down at Jesus in his crib,
A crib that was probably the total opposite of the one we put together last month.
And as you think about that first night, I want you to remember that the story of Jesus does not end in that manger.
It is only beginning.
As we gather tonight here at Grace, and as Christians gather around the world, we gather to celebrate.

But our celebration does not end tonight.

It is just beginning.

Because it is one thing to come and worship and sing “Christ our Savior is born!”
It is another thing to go out and live out that worship.
So many people talk about putting Christ back into Christmas.
Tonight, I say we need to start putting the Mass back into Christmas.

“Mass” is derived from the Latin word “missa”, which means “dismissal.”

But in the Christian church, this word has taken on a deeper meaning.

It has come to imply “mission.”

And tonight we celebrate the beginning of the “Mission of Christ.”

And then we celebrate it tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and each and every day.

I believe Christmas is not a day.

Christmas is not a season.

It is a way of life.

And tonight I invite you to join me and make every day a Christ Mission day.
The way you treat one another tomorrow with family and friends, do that every day.

Share meals, gifts, time with one another.

And share your time talent and treasures to those who are less fortunate, to those who may not know that Christmas is for them as well.

Let me leave with an example. A story.
This story comes from a young man named Matt.

“So, today there was a homeless guy with his dog on the side of the road by Wal-Mart on route 1 going into Kennett with a sign that said “Down on our luck.” I decided to go into Wal-Mart and buy some hot food, water and some new clothes for the man as well as some dog food for his dog. I walked everything up to the man and sat next to him and talked to him for a little. He was one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met. He said that people give him change here and there but no one has ever did what I did. I threw him a little extra cash and all he said was “There need to be more people like you in the world, Merry Christmas buddy.” Hands down one of the most fulfilling moments of my life. Never underestimate the power of giving, for even the most simple gesture can make a difference in someone’s life.”

I had the honor to confirm Matt back at St. Michael Lutheran in Unionville, PA.
He is now in college, and in just this little story Matthew can teach me and you what it means to bring Christmas to someone else.

Tonight we celebrate receiving the greatest gift of them all.

Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow,
Let us share that gift with the world.

Let us keep the Mass in Christmas.