Christmas (Yr A) Dec 24, 2019



Michael Kreutzer


Don Nancarrow

Assisting Priest

R. James Larsen


Jim Rudd


George Snyder


Kendall Rubino

Music Director

Donna Larsen


Judy Rudd


Jasmyne Phillips




Old Testament: Isaiah (9:2-7 )


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts

will do this.




The Response: Psalm 96


1   Sing to the Lord a new song; *

     sing to the Lord, all the whole earth.

2   Sing to the Lord and bless his Name; *

     proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

3   Declare his glory among the nations *

     and his wonders among all peoples.

4   For great is the Lord and greatly

to be praised; *

     he is more to be feared than all gods.

5   As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; *

     but it is the Lord who made the heavens.

6   Oh, the majesty and magnificence of his presence! *

     Oh, the power and the splendor of his sanctuary!

7   Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples; *

     ascribe to the Lord honor and power.

8   Ascribe to the Lord the honor due his Name; *

     bring offerings and come into his courts.

9   Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; *

     let the whole earth tremble before him.

10  Tell it out among the nations: “The Lord is King! *

     he has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;

     he will judge the peoples with equity.”

11  Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;

     let the sea thunder and all that is in it; *

      let the field be joyful and all that is therein.

12  Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy

      before the Lord when he comes, *

      when he comes to judge the earth.

13  He will judge the world with righteousness *

      and the peoples with his truth.




The New Testament: Titus (2:11-14)


The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.   He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.





The Gospel: Luke (2:1-20)


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,

“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.





by the Rev. Mike Kreutzer


On this very special night, we join together with more than 2 billion other Christians throughout the world in celebrating the coming of God, the Ultimate Reality, the Ground of All Being, into the world.  It is certainly not the case that the Divine Spirit was somehow absent until now, coming into this universe from somewhere else – if indeed there is somewhere else.  Instead, the One who is called by a thousand different names was now entering into the world in a new way: one that was personal, powerful, and empowering.


Ancient peoples often pictured God or the gods as dwelling somewhere above the skies, far removed from life here on earth.  But our spiritual ancestors, the people of Israel, recognized that their God was an integral part of this world.  Their God was the life, the breath that enlivened all things.  Their God was not a distant, capricious deity, but a loving parent who cared passionately for them and was an integral part of their lives.  But now, because of what we know as “Christmas,” that God was touching their lives in a way that they had not experienced before.


First of all, it was personal.  In a fellow human being, Jesus of Nazareth, people would come to feel God’s presence in a direct and intense way.  In their encounters with him, they would come to experience personally the loving and healing power of God, transforming their lives and enabling them to know, more deeply than they ever had before, the life-giving spirit of God within them.


In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, people would experience also the presence of the divine not only in a way that was personal, but also in a way that was powerful.  In him, they would see and know the Life of the Universe transforming their lives and the lives of others.  They would witness that Life transforming the relationships among people of different races and nations and classes and abilities so that all of them could come to recognize the powerful unity that bound them all inseparably to one another in the one human family.  Because of him, they could no longer see only the divisions that separated them, but far more strongly and clearly, the bonds that united them.  Through their encounters with him, they found themselves changed.


They would now come to experience the presence of the Eternal Spirit in a way that was both personal and powerful.  But most of all, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, people would experience the presence of the Divine in a way that was empowering.  Not everyone who encountered Jesus during his lifetime wanted that.  And not every one of those billions of people who are celebrating Christmas today wants that either.


People, in general, love the Christmas story, at least the Christmas story as they choose to imagine it.  They love the image of the innocuous, undemanding, little child lying in the manger: a child who, in their imaginations, has come to make their lives easier.  Their notion of a savior and lord is that of someone who has come to take care of them, to transform their lives and the life of the world to be what they want it to be: a world of peace, free from conflict, free from hunger, free from suffering.  They love the God who comes to us in a way that is limited to being personal and powerful.


But if that is all that they hold in their fantasies, the message of the birth of Jesus will not end up being good news at all.  Viewed from that perspective, Jesus’ life seems to have been a failure.  If you expected him to do everything to remake this world into what he called “the kingdom of God,” you are bound to be sadly disappointed.  Look around at the world in which we live.  Does this look like the kingdom of God to you?


But if, on the other hand, we are willing to put aside our fantasies and to look at Jesus as he actually lived his life and as he actually proclaimed the kingdom of God, then there might just be good news here that we would not otherwise have recognized.  Jesus did not come to make everything better: to magically take away our responsibility for doing the work that God has given us to do.  He did not come so that God could enter into our lives in a way that is merely personal and powerful.  Instead, he came also so that, in him, God might enter into our lives in a way that is empowering.  He came to show us the way so that we might change the world, so that we might, with the Spirit of God working within us, help to transform the world into something that more and more closely resembles the world as God wants it to be.


On this Christmas night, the invitation of the shepherds in Luke’s timeless story rings out for us again: “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord had made known to us.”  Let us go now to Bethlehem and see the God who has come to us in a way that is personal: in a fellow human being who knows our strengths and our weaknesses, our certainties and our doubts, our joys and our sorrows, because he has experienced them himself.  Let us go now to Bethlehem and see the God who has come to us in a way that is powerful: in one who made it his life’s work to transform people’s lives by bringing Good News to the poor, by comforting the afflicted, by healing the suffering, by raising up those who had been neglected and rejected by the world.  But let us also go now to Bethlehem and see the God who has come to us in a way that is empowering: in one who calls us to dedicate our lives, as he dedicated his, to bringing light to those who dwell in darkness, to feeding the hungry, to sheltering the homeless, to healing those who are afflicted, and to welcoming into the fullness of the human family those who have been marginalized.


This night, we celebrate the coming into the world of “the Life of All that Is” 2000 years ago in a way that was both personal and powerful.  But especially, we celebrate the coming into the world of that Life each and every day in a way that is empowering: in a way that brings the fullness of God’s life and blessings to the people of the world each and every day through us.  For it is today in us that Christ our Savior is born.