December 24, 2022

The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Christmas Eve - December 24, 2022
The Rev. R. Allan McCaslin
Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

From the Prophet Isaiah, “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us.” I speak to you in the
Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sometime ago, I heard a Christmas Carol with a message as simple as its tune. And, as I prayed
and reflected upon tonight’s scripture readings, I couldn’t get that carol and its simplicity out of my
See, the reality is that as wonderful as Isaiah’s promise that “a child has been born for us, a son
given to us,” and as glorious St. Paul’s affirmation to Titus that Jesus born at Bethlehem is the
perfect gift of God’s grace and salvation; a gift that affirms that on that first Christmas long ago
God’s own living presence burst into our world, a gift that urges redeemed people like you and me
to seek and serve Christ in every person we meet, we have heard these scriptures and especially
the gospel accounts on the birth of the Savior so many times, I fear it has become all too familiar.
In these days of economic and political division, incredible physical violence and vitriol, these days
of worries over inflation, financial futures, and the well-being of our neighbors, especially the poor
of society, truth be told, many wonder if Christmas – a story heard a gazillion times - can still, or
ever will make a difference. Does it, can it, really change anything?
According to tonight’s scripture readings, the answer to those questions is a resounding, “Yes!”
It is a resounding, “Yes … but!” See, the Christmas message offers incredible hope and promise for
redemption with God and reconciled and renewed relationships with every neighbor; with everyone
we meet but, scripture is very clear; such harmony is only possible if we take action. For Isaiah, St.
Paul, and Luke remind us that the child born at Bethlehem, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, is
God’s own self incarnate who has come to us as a gift. And like any gift if it is to mean anything, if
it is to make any difference in our lives, our communities, our nation, and world, it needs to be
opened. And once opened, it needs to be embraced and then shared. The key to the fulfillment of
all those Christmas promises is simple: it begins with me and with you. It begins with each of us
choosing to accept, embrace, and then share the gift of God born and revealed in Jesus Christ. For
only then will God’s gift to the world – Christmas - transform our hearts and minds, transform
them to very core of who we are; only then can this Jesus, this Word of God made flesh in our
midst as St. John described him, only then can and will God’s gift make a difference in and through
us. The miracle of Christmas becomes a life changing and forever transforming reality when and if
it is born in us and then lived and shared through us.
And that brings me back to that carol I mentioned earlier. Its message is short and refreshingly
simple, and yet worthy of our deep reflection. The carol offers these words,
“If in your heart you make a manger for his birth
God will once again become a child on earth.” 1

Friends if the Christmas message, if its grace and blessing, is going to make any difference in my
life, in your life, it has to become a part of who we are; it has to be born in here (gesturing to the
heart). Our hearts have to become Christ’s manger, a place for Christ’s miraculous birth. And when
we offer ourselves, our hearts, as a place for God to abide, then Christmas, that promised God with
us, God, the gift given us and born for us, will transform the whole of our lives, how we think, how
we speak, what we value, how and who we love, and perhaps most of all, how we choose to live.

If in our hearts we make a manger for his birth, God will once again become a child on earth.
Simple words and yet, its message is incredibly deep because it is up to each of us to open our
hearts and accept the gift of God’s grace given to us, born for us, Jesus the Christ, our Lord and
redeemer whose birth we celebrate this night.
On this Christmas Eve 2022, may this holy child of Bethlehem find our hearts, every heart,
prepared as a manger and be born in us today, and every day. For then, beloved people of God,
Christmas will, indeed, change us and the whole world once more. May God grant us the grace and
the humility to invite the Christ to be born and dwell in our hearts right now and forever. Amen.


1 Ana Hernandez, If In Your Hearts, Public domain