Der Vasken’s Sermon on December 24, 2023

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“And so the shepherds left the manger praising God for all the things they had seen and heard.”

Beautiful familiar words to us all from the Gospel of St. Luke. Tomorrow morning, much of the world will begin their Christmas celebrations amidst a whole lot of excitement. Probably most all homes will have the same spirit and feeling in the morning—a special feeling found in our hearts since childhood, a feeling that tomorrow morning is different than every other morning. That special feeling is what the shepherds felt upon leaving the manger on that first Christmas.

Christmas morning is celebrated by “unpacking” our family traditions and celebrating the Birth of Our Lord as we are accustomed to doing. On Christmas morning traditions are shared; meals are enjoyed and many gifts are exchanged. Those traditions—those warm feelings—make up our Christmas Spirit. Christmas Spirit is a wonderful thing. Without it, the joy is removed and traditions become flat. Having a little Christmas Spirit goes a long way in making our celebrations special.

We all remember and I’ll keep this message short this morning, about a year and a half ago, Queen Elizabeth II passed away. In the days following her death, many of her quotes and expressions were shared. Of those, my favorite quote took place within an interview where the Queen was asked about her faith. She said the following: “Oh how I wish,” she said, “that the Lord would come back in my lifetime!” The interviewer, caught a little off guard, asked her, “Your Majesty, why do you say that?” The Queen replied with deep emotion, “I would so love to lay my crown at His feet,” she replied.

It’s a powerful statement. The One Who was born among the lowly stands highest of all. The One who descended to earth is now exalted in Heaven. No angel is higher. No political office is higher. No conqueror, no ruler sits on a higher throne. The baby born in a manger in Bethlehem now sits on the only True Throne in the universe. Every other throne has been created out of man-made materials and will someday pass, but not the Throne of Christ. Because, as St. Paul says, “His Name is about every name and every knee should bow in Heaven and on earth.”

The poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich, the powerful politician, the experienced physician, the ill, the healthy, the Ph.D.’s, the MVP’s, the Nobel Prize winners, every King, every Queen, everyone, every knee will bow before Jesus Christ, the King of kings.

To have Christmas Spirit means our knees are bowed because the Story of Christmas is the story of faith, hope and love in the One born to lead us back to the Kingdom of God. May you all have a blessed Christmas with your families and loved ones and may the Spirit of Christmas stay with us all.

Amen.

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