Pastor Joe Skogmo
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lowry, MN
Christmas Eve – The Nativity of our Lord | 12.24.2017 | Luke 2:1-20
How do you feel about getting interrupted?
I can’t stand it. My sister, Beth, interrupts me every other syllable (full disclosure: I am not at all innocent when it comes to interrupting people, but lets not dwell on that). Nevertheless, I think most of us can’t stand it.
At a basic level, being interrupted makes it feel as if someone is claiming our territory in a discussion. It is invasive. On lighter levels interruption causes us to lose our train of thought and forget what we were about to say…AND LITERALLY WHILE I WAS WRITING THIS PART OF THE SERMON…I was interrupted! I was interrupted by the king of interrupters, the best man at my wedding, Ben. Ben Interruption Pedersen.
I’m in the heart of writing this sermon and he texts me: “Whattcha doin?”
…but something was different about this interruption. With this one I was reminded that some things need to be interrupted, that there are good interruptions.
Ben was actually texting me to ask: “How’s your dad doin’?” The interruption was Ben being a friend, and he was interrupting my stress and my busyness with a little compassion and a little light—a badly needed interruption.
And I can’t help but wonder if that’s one way to think of Christmas, as a massively needed Divine Interruption into our lives with a little compassion and little light.
Come to think of it, the shepherds in the story tonight were literally interrupted by Christmas. Going about their daily grind, “keeping watch over their flock by night,” an angel interrupted them to proclaim “…to you is born this day…a Savior” (Luke 2:11).
And gathered here on this Christmas Eve we are still experiencing this Divine Interruption. Here we are, our daily lives are paused, our projects stalled, our professional stresses are stilled for a moment, and we gather here to sit together, to sing, to pray, to break bread, to light lights in the darkness, to hear of this Savior.
Christmas is a badly needed interruption.
I think of a family in particular that I know is going through some of the darkest moments of their lives. They still don’t know what the future holds with so much unresolved. Consumed by this dark moment, I was privy to them wondering aloud if they even have time or energy for family Christmas. After a while they concluded that’s exactly what they need. They need their day-after-day toil of anxiety interrupted, to spend some time together with a meal, in fellowship, and in a hopeful reminder that they are not in this alone.
Thank God for this Divine Interruption, not only for them, but for each of us.
Because there are a lot of voices in our lives that need interruption. There are voices that bombard from within—from our biochemistry, and from outside of us—from our culture, that are lying to us telling us that we are not good enough. There are voices from the dark places of our soul that tell us to hate ourselves, to feel insurmountable guilt for what we have and haven’t done, and shame for who we are and are not. There are voices that tell us to compete with one another, to fear, and judge one another. There are voices within us and around us that tell us to be hopeless and afraid of whatever it is that confronts us whether it be our bank account, our self-esteem, stress, injustice, illness, or even death…and Christ’s coming to the world interrupts every one of those voices!
Those voices are stilled by this silent night which reminds us of the peace and promise that comes from this life-giving Wonder in the Manger.
That is what Christmas is—a silencing interruption of those voices with a story that tells of a God who breaks into human life, into the brokenness and gloominess of it all and says, you have a Savior (2:11).
The voices that say we are not good enough are interrupted by a God who shows that we are so indeed good enough and worthy that this God would come down in human form to live and to die to prove it.
The voices that say we should fear one another, compete with one another, or judge one another are interrupted by a God who comes to the world with this angelic preamble: “peace on earth” (2:15) and goodwill to all.
The voices that bait us into anxiety and cause us to fill with guilt and shame are interrupted by the angelic proclamation: “Do not be afraid…[this is] good news” (2:10).
Like Ben’s text message, like Christmas Eve worship, like family Christmas, the story of Jesus’ birth compels us to snap out of our cycles of anxiety, to reflect for a moment on Divine love that we have received in Christ Jesus, Divine love we are still receiving, and Divine love we are to reflect out in the world.
So, you dear sisters and brothers beneath life’s crushing load, be interrupted by the angels who sing Look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
God has come. God is here. I pray that whatever it is that you face, that you are again and again interrupted by the Christmas promise that you face it not alone but with the Son of Man who interrupts the voices of torment with joy to the world! Amen.