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Let it Be Christmas




“Let it Be Christmas Everywhere” a message by Dr. Bruce Havens Arlington Congregational Church, U.C.C. December 24, 2014

I have to confess I am a daydreamer. I like to think of it as creatively imagining an alternative reality. It seems appropriate to talk a bit about dreaming tonight since this story of Christmas includes stories of the dreams of Mary and Joseph, and caught up in their dreams are the dreams and hopes of all humanity. Tonight I want to invite you to join me in a bit of dreaming. Imagine with me if you will that it could be Christmas everywhere.


Now, I know we live in a cynical, weary world and dreaming doesn’t seem very practical. It doesn’t help when you have men like the guy whose wife woke up one morning and told her husband, “I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you

think this dream means?”


“Oh,” her husband replied, “you’ll know the day after tomorrow.”


The next morning, she turned to her husband again and said the same thing, “I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?”

And her husband said, “You’ll know tomorrow.”


On the third morning, the woman woke up and smiled at her husband, “I just dreamed again that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?” And he smiled back, “You’ll know tonight.”


That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife. She was delighted. She opened it gently. And when she did, she found - a book! And the book’s title was “The Meaning of Dreams.”[1]

So despite getting no help from guys who give gifts like that at Christmas, I want to invite you to dream with me tonight. Dream with me that it might truly be, as my title suggest, “Christmas Everywhere.” Yes, I want to invite you to what some might call merely a pipe dream. But I want to urge you to think of it more positively. So although I am often tempted to crown myself King of the Cynics, tonight I want to let my daydreaming, optimistic self be the preacher.

Dreams were important vehicles for God in Scripture. People often encountered God in dreams. God came to both Mary and Joseph in their dreams.


Can you imagine how difficult it might be to have a dream like Mary or Joseph’s? Imagine you wake to a bright light and this pronouncement: “We now interrupt your regularly scheduled life for a message from God. You, favored one, are about to be shaken up, turned inside out, never to be the same. Your world is about to turn upside down.”


What would you do? Rub your eyes and wonder what you ate that caused that dream? Chalk it up to paranormal activity? Or might you just possibly fall to your knees in wonder, awe, and even in fear in the presence of the Divine. Or would you be saying, “Oh, sure, God doesn’t work like that in real life. Get a grip!”


But wait a minute. Can you really be so sure? In our gospel reading from Luke, a messenger, what we call an angel, comes to a young teenage girl from a dirtwater town and proclaims that nothing is truly out of the realm of imagination or possibility when God’s in the mix.

Why is it that we 21st century folk have such a hard time conceiving of a God who works in powerful, mysterious, and yes, even miraculous ways? Most of us are, at heart, rationalists, though we might have a sentimental side. Our rational side attempts to tame God, make God fit the limits of the logical, thinking intellect and to consign anything about God that is out of the ordinary to fairy tale. We explain away any mystery and wonder. Many of us are tempted to view ecstatic and emotional faith with suspicion and more than a little discomfort. Others dismiss any faith in a Divine Creator as irrelevant and impossible, a touch naïve. For others, God is little more than a “Watchmaker God.” Responsible for setting everything up, but left us to our own devices long ago. I call this, “God as Elvis” – left the building, not interested in daily life; a God not here in suffering and longing and loving. But Christmas proclaims a different God.

I

f we really dream of, or want it to be, Christmas Everywhere, “our greatest challenge this week (well, really every week) is to open the windows of our hearts and minds to the wonder and awe, to the real presence of God among us.” For Christmas to come everywhere we need to be open to seeing and hearing and showing others that God is “active, present, and leaving the building with us.”


When we believe in God Incarnate, which is what we claim Jesus was and is, then the dream that Mary had is our dream too. We are, all of us, favored by God. “How truly we need to hear that we, like Mary are favored by God, beloved of God, and part of God’s plan for redeeming the world. When we think of Mary’s story as related to our own journey, how God might be working in, with, and through us, then life as we know it suddenly becomes something entirely different.” The question then is, are we ready to let God do in and through us what God did in and through Mary and Joseph? All their plans, all their expectations were interrupted by God coming and announcing that God’s favor was with them. But faith allows us to see this as something miraculous and amazing: “Divine interruption becomes divine opportunity.”[2]

When I dream of Christmas Everywhere I dream of the ways in which God takes the opportunity to be present with us and to make us aware of that presence. Christmas, the coming of Christ both long ago, and right now is the promise that God is still looking for every opportunity to heal brokenness, to bless, the love, to forgive, and to open a doorway to greater faith. Christmas Everywhere isn’t a longing for some perfect, Christmas card holiday. Heck, my Christmas dream certainly isn’t a “White Christmas.” My dream is that we will let it be Christmas wherever things aren’t perfect, wherever hearts are broken, wherever we look because there we will see signs of God’s presence and where God is, Christmas is there.

The truth is there is so much brokenness. But let’s not let that steal Christmas. Let’s not let that stop Christmas from being, well, everywhere, because the first Christmas wasn’t perfect by any human measure. You’re tree isn’t perfect? Imagine the décor at that stable so long ago; probably wouldn’t make a Southern Living magazine spread. Dinner a little burnt here, a little undercooked there? I don’t imagine the meal Joseph and Mary had to share with the shepherds and other visitors made Chef Ramsay’s recipe pages either.


But let’s take that thought bigger. Peace on earth? With police being targeted by crackpots and black people being targeted for being black? With world leaders like we have in Russia and in North Korea, with Ebola outbreaks and religiously motivated terrorists of every stripe? Christmas everywhere? Christmas anywhere? Stop. Breathe. You and I don’t have to have it all together to let it be Christmas everywhere. We don’t have to be whole, or holy, or wholly holy to let it be Christmas everywhere.


How about we just let God do what God does? How about we just let God let it be Christmas everywhere? I think what I love about the song is that it reminds us that the holy is everywhere in the most common, ordinary things of life – in the decorations, sure, but more in the hopes for joy and peace that we feel when we look around and see babies sleeping and when we “elderlies memories that never grow old.” I believe and I dream of the way Christmas promises a day when it will be Christmas everywhere when we “let every heart sing, and every bell ring the story of hope and joy and peace,”


Let it be Christmas everywhere,

in the hearts of all people

both near and afar.

Christmas everywhere,

feel the love of the season

wherever you are.

On the small country roads

lined with green mistletoe,

big city streets

where a thousand lights glow.

Let it be Christmas everywhere,

Let heavenly music fill the air

Let every heart sing, let every bell ring,

the story of hope and joy and peace

And let it be Christmas everywhere,

Let heavenly music fill the air

Let anger and fear and hate disappear,

Let there be love

that lasts through the year

Let it be Christmas everywhere,

in the smiles of all children

asleep in their beds.

In the eyes of young babies

their first fallen snow,

Elderlies memories that never grow old


Let it be Christmas everywhere,

in the songs that we sing

and the gifts that we bring.

Christmas everywhere,

in what this day means

and what we believe.

From sandy white beaches

where blue water rolls,

Snow covered mountains

and valleys below


That’s my prayer and my dream this Christmas: Let it be Christmas, everywhere. Merry Christmas! AMEN.


[1] Rev. Samuel Candler, “Believe in the Dreams of the Person You Love,” day1.org, December 23, 2007. [2] Sharron R. Blezard, December 13, 2011, stewardshipoflife.org

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