The Truth of Christmas on the Longest Night

Homily, The Truth of Christmas on the Longest Night
The Longest Night, 2022
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
Tequesta, FL

The Rev. Derek M Larson, TSSF

Today’s Lectionary Readings:

Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 27:1, 3-7
Matthew 11:25-30

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Last weekend my niece and nephews were in town and we did some Christmasy things. Baked some cookies. Saw some Christmas lights. Watched the movie, the Polar Express. Have you seen that movie?

It’s a movie about these kids on a train that takes them to the North Pole to see Santa and along the way they have all kinds of adventures and exciting things happen to them. 

But throughout the movie there’s this one child, Billie, who keeps his distance from the other kids. When everyone around him is singing and dancing, celebrating and drinking hot chocolate, Billie stays in a separate car. He doesn’t seem to have the joy in him the other kids appear to have.

Later in the movie two of the kids come over to encourage him to join them, and Billie simply responds, “Christmas just doesn’t work out for me.”

I think we all feel like Billie sometimes. There are times in our lives when we are filled with so much joy it’s spilling out of us. And there are times in our lives, where we simply can’t find it within ourselves. Even with everyone around us moving through all the motions.

And there’s so much pressure this time of year to have a perfect and joyful Christmas. To have a perfect dinner table. A perfect set of gifts. Perfect relationships.

There’s so much pressure to make our celebration of Christmas look like a Hallmark movie.

And not only is that something we simply can’t live up to—We’re never gonna have perfect Hallmark Christmases, We’re always going to burn the cookies or argue with our in-laws or miss an invitation. 

But often, it’s also not authentic to the world we live in. A world full of loss. A world full of imperfections. A world full of pain. 

And so this evening in the darkness of this Longest Night. I’d like to share with you a simple truth. Celebrating Christmas is not about full tables. It is not about twinkling lights. It’s not about beautiful trees. It’s not about completed shopping lists. It’s not about pretty sweaters. It’s not about carol singing. It’s not about hearts bursting full of joy. It’s not about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. 

Christmas is about God with us. Walking with us in whatever we’re going through. Christmas is about a God who came into the messiness of this world to share in both our joy and our pain. 

There are many ways to celebrate Christmas. And in some seasons of our lives it will look joyful and in other seasons it won’t. But the purest way to celebrate Christmas is to simply remember that whatever emotions you feel in this season, God is with you. God knows exactly what you’re going through. And God loves you. God loves you so much. 

If you can hear that truth, then whatever this season looks like for you, whatever emotions are stirring in your heart, whatever complicated feelings you may be experiencing, if you can hear that truth you will have celebrated Christmas. You will have celebrated Christmas. Amen.