The date of Easter moves around according to the lunar calendar. Christmas, on the other hand, is not a “moveable feast.” It is rooted in the solar calendar, and is always observed on December 25th.
However, December 25th falls on varying days of the week, a fact that can drive preachers crazy. This year I have a whole week between the last Sunday of Advent and Christmas. Next year, the last Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve!
So, it’s Monday I don’t have my Christmas Eve sermon ready yet. I’m grateful to have a few days to prepare. I can’t remember a time in my life when our nation was more divided or more anxious about an incoming presidential administration. Nor can I remember having a President-elect who behaves like Mr. Trump, flouting protocols, tweeting insults, and appointing foxes to oversee chicken coops. I am truly fearful for our nation, the environment, and our neighbors around the world.
I bring that fear to the texts for Christmas – to the angels’ command, “Fear not!” and to the unlikely king who lies swaddled in a manger. Just what might “good tidings of great joy” mean for us today? In other words, what difference does God’s incarnation make?
Perhaps by Saturday I’ll have some kind of answer. It will have to be succinct, however. Christmas crowds don’t come to hear heavy theology. They come for the candles, the carols, and the memories. For most, Christmas is an escape from the exigencies of the moment. On Christmas, people expect the prosaic, not the prophetic – and certainly not more than ten minutes of that.
I’m especially grateful to have these six days to get ready. Ready or not, however, Christmas is almost here.