Do you remember that Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts–Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders–held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.
(click to play video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToHhQUhdyBY
That year the Apollo 8 astronauts taught us a valuable Christmas lesson. That there is a thin place where heaven and earth seem to touch, where God is so near we can reach out and touch him. That’s the promise and hope of Christmas—the one for whom we long has come to us as the Incarnate Christ. God comes to us this very night, finds us and gives our restless hearts hope.
This year a lot has changed in my life and I confess that my mind has been wandering. I’ve been reminiscing about the Christmases when my children were little. And I found myself laughing that THIS Christmas Eve no longer includes assembling toys!
Even though it’s been years since my children were small, I can vividly recall the exhaustion that came with the dreaded words “some assembly required.”
Today even my grandsons are all grown up and they now appreciate the more simple gifts, like IPhones and cash.
Remembering, it occurred to me that that this assembly skill set could be a good thing.
The Apollo 8 crew knew that the world had assembled to listen to their historic broadcast.
Little did they know that reading the bible from space might cause a bit of an uproar. I think God is ok with that. God certainly caused an uproar when he came down as a tiny baby.
So… tonight we are assembled in his name– assembled to welcome the Christ child.
And– it is here that we are invited to assemble our response to this good news.
This baby needs to be acknowledged, received, cared for and carried out into a world that could use some glad tidings, because frankly, the world feels very dark this year, full of unrest and disparity. It would be easy to throw up our hands in defeat, however…
If Christmas teaches us anything it’s that we’re not alone in this broken world.
God came down and presto–the Word became flesh.
And in that fully human, fully divine act, God came to walk among us. Whatever God hopes for this world, God promises to work in, with, and through us.
Our job is to assemble a response. Our job is to allow this birth to change us, as it changed Mary, Joseph, and our early Christian siblings.
Faith doesn’t ask us to isolate ourselves in sanctuaries, going home with little or no thought for this world God loves. It’s why God assembled a plan to be in relationship with us.
Mary didn’t think too long before she assembled her own response to the angels message. She said yes because– she was literally open to carrying the good news. I think that is the big question of Christmas.
How can we be open to carrying good news to God’s children?
This gift of the Christ child is not a gift to put back in the box until next year, but rather to share with people who need to know they are unconditionally loved and deserving of a life full of equity and unbridled hope.
So tonight, when you’ve put all the toys and bicycles together, take a little time to let your mind wander. Ask God what about your life could use a little divine assembly.
Like Mary, treasure God’s word and ponder them in your hearts.
Living into God’s greatest imagination for your life will always come with the label “some assembly required.”
Merry Christmas to all. Joy to the World. Amen.