Christmas Eve message, 2017
Exactly ten days ago, I was sitting in the O’Fallon 15 cinema watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry – I’m not going to spoil anything, nor am I going to expound upon the perceived strengths or weakness of the film. What I will say is that like many of the Star Wars films before it, the Last Jedi builds upon the theme that some of the most important players in the galaxy are the ones perceived as the nobodies… That great things can and do come from the scoundrels, the slaves, the abandoned, the orphaned. The Christmas story has a similar theme: Joseph the day laborer, Mary the teenage mother, and of course, Jesus, the innocent, intensely vulnerable newborn, who becomes the Savior of all.
And then there are the shepherds. Always a part of the Christmas story and prominent in our nativity scenes, the shepherds were actually the quintessential nobodies. They owned no houses or land, had few possessions – they were nomads who very likely had old, worn-out robes to wear, and, hanging out in the company of sheep all day and night, probably didn’t smell of apples and spice. And yet it was these nobodies whom the angels visited; it was these nobodies whom the divine messengers of God himself called to witness in person the Light of the World, and who were so moved that they proclaimed the good news of great joy that a Savior had been born, “and all were amazed at what the shepherds told them.” The shepherds, society’s nobodies, become the first preachers of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
You may think that when it comes to preaching the good news of Jesus you are something of a “nobody;” you may think that there are plenty of folks who can do it better, and so they’re the ones who should. That is simply not true. Because tonight the angels come to visit you. Tonight you are the shepherds witnessing the Light of the World come among us. Tonight you are commissioned by God once again to proclaim this good news of great joy. Of all the characters in the galaxy, God has chosen you. The light of Christ shines in you and through you. Carry it forth from this place in whatever way you can, that it may brighten a world so much in need of its warmth.
May the grace and love of God fill your hearts and minds this Christmas and always… oh – and may the Force be with you. Amen.