Let us light a candle, take a deep breath, and pray together:
Living God, Christ Mystery, Spirit of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace,
we give you thanks for this holy moment together.
As we take in the light you offer,
may we be a reflection of your light, expanding our sacred time “right now” into the sacred memory of “always and for all time.” Amen.
Quotes Ancient and New
Excerpts from Luke 2:5-20
“5Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, 6and while they were there, 7she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
8That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. 9All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. 10But the angel said, “Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. 11This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. 12You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.” 13Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said:
14 “Praise God in heaven!
Peace on earth to everyone
who pleases God.”
15After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.” 16They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay.
17When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. 18Everyone listened and was surprised. 19But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant.
20As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said.”
Every Thing is Sacred, “Reflection 9: The Path Toward Inner Aliveness”
“‘Faith at its essential core is accepting that we are accepted! We cannot deeply know ourselves without also knowing the One who made us, and we cannot fully accept ourselves without accepting God’s radical acceptance of every part of us…’”
Every Thing is Sacred, “Reflection 15: Waking Up to Love”
“‘As I look at the things and people I have tried to love in my life, I would have to say, ‘They made me do it!’ It was the inherent goodness, inner beauty, vulnerability, deep honesty, or generosity of spirit from the other side that drew me out of myself and toward them’...”
Have you ever held a baby in your arms and the baby just stares into your eyes? Experts tell us that a baby, in just the first days of birth begins to look into their mother or father’s eyes, so they can begin to make connections about who they are, how to communicate, and how to regulate their own emotions. How a parent responds to the searching eyes of their child will effect them for the rest of their lives because what is reflected back to them tells them they are loved, cherished and secure and all the baby is doing is resting in the arms of the one who gave them birth.
We are created to look into the eyes of our Creator, the one who gives us new birth, and come to know who we are as God reflects back to us who we are. God tells us through John, Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children. (1 John 3:1-2)
On Christmas Eve, we gather, sing, light candles and dare to believe that love truly enters the world time and again and anything is possible. What may be more difficult to understand, however, is that this love is ours, not because we’ve been “good” (as if God is Santa Claus), but simply because we are beloved–the firstborn of God. Our very being reflects the sacred. The incarnation of God in human flesh is proof. And just like a loving parent, seeing their child in trouble is not at rest until their child is at peace, God’s love pursues us.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” — Titus 3: 4-7
Let God’s gaze into your eyes remind you who you are and spend some time staring back into the eyes of the One who created you for love. Reflect deeply on these messages given to us through scripture and rest in the arms of the One who loves you with an everlasting love. May the power of God’s Word on this Christmas Eve give birth to new life in your soul and live your new life living as a beloved child of God. And then reflect this Good News, through your eyes to everyone around you.
You may have already spent time journaling so if you have, simply read what you have already written for this week in your journal. If you have not written anything, we will take 5 minutes (feel free to extend the time if the group desires) to write whatever comes to us when we encounter the question for this week:
Take time to silently reflect on significant decisions you have made in your life. This could be anything from career choice to a relationship, from choosing your closest friends to deciding where to live.
In these decisions, to what extent were you influenced by inner aliveness (ie. beauty, goodness, or love from others or within yourself for others)? Was there any influence from the expectations/pressures of others?
What is your sense of connection to your inner aliveness today? Notice how thinking about your inner aliveness stir your emotions and sensations?
Leader: In our conversation, everyone is invited to share, but sharing is not required. Please make room for all voices, keeping your contribution to a respectful time limit so everyone has a chance to speak. Whatever is said here stays here – not because we are telling secrets, but because we honor that what a person says here is their story to share.
I invite you to share something from your journaling or just thoughts that are bubbling up. We will allow uninterrupted speaking on the first round and then open it up for responses to each other. Remember, no one is “right or wrong” when it comes to our understanding of the sacred. We notice what we notice on our faith journey, and no one perspective will be the same. A good way to begin to respond to someone is “I appreciated your reflection about…”
Let us read this benediction, taken from our weekly worship, together…
When you see lights twinkle,
when you catch a reflection in a mirror,
when you notice the sunlight dancing on a surface
or a nightlight glowing in the darkness,
let these be signs that the Christ Light is revealed
again and again in and through this world.
Know that your brilliant presence
is pouring more hope, love, joy, and peace into a weary world.
God loved us by becoming us.
This means you are already
reflecting the sacred.
In the name of the Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit.