“I Am—With Us”

I believe that God is always with us, the one who gives us life in the first place. But I also believe that in overflowing love God has chosen to be intimately involved in our lives, by living in our midst in the person of Jesus. God has chosen to live the way we live with our joys and suffering, health and pain, acceptance or rejection. That is the mystery we celebrate this morning. God, the great “I AM,” is right here in our midst “where two or three are gathered in my name.” In the words of the prophet Zephaniah, we have reason to rejoice on this happy morning: The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; God will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you with love, God will sing joyfully because of you as one sings at festivals.” Brothers and sisters, it is Christmas day, let us sing and rejoice in the love of our God! Let us raise our voices and our hearts in gratitude to our God who loves and understands us in our best moments and more importantly, in our worst ones.

The illustration to the right is the painting In The City of David, by Jorge Cocco Santangelo

Gospel Reading: Luke 2:1-20—The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar 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 in the guest room.

Now in that same 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. 10 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: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15 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.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, 19 and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.