“This Christmas Night, We are Those Who Dream”
Rev’d. Tanya Stormo Rasmussen
The Congregational Church of Hollis, U.C.C.
Christmas Eve, 2020
‘Those Who Dream’ series (inspired by A Sanctified Art)
Sigmund Freud was not the first person to recognize that our dreams reveal important things about ourselves. And people of faith have long understood that the stories we cherish, the narratives we live by, shape us and help to fashion the world we inhabit.
That’s why tonight, we gather as we do each year on Christmas Eve to hear once again the story of God coming to the least likely people. To the ones whom the world pushed aside and would have deemed least deserving. While the rest of the world invested confidence in the politically savvy, in the smooth talkers, the ones to whom health and wealth seemed to cling without much effort, God deliberately came first to those who inhabited the margins despite their best efforts to do otherwise.
These margin-dwellers are the ones to whom God’s angels come and say, “Greetings, favored one.” And, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing YOU good news of great joy for all the people.” Here’s the Good News, friends: the God who greeted an unwed teenaged girl, and appeared to an overwhelmed fiancé with words of reassurance and encouragement that yes, they could and would do great things; the same God who chose the shepherds in their fields to convey a divine message, and moved magi from a distant culture and different religion to also enjoy the blessings of salvation—this is the same God who comes to us tonight, and every Christmas night, which is to say every single night and day, with words of hope and reassurance: you, too, are embraced by the God who Saves.
The messengers of God appeared first to the social misfits, to the awkward ones, to those who had been told in so many ways that they were not worthy of much esteem. And the angels’ announcement was that Almighty God, the Author and Sovereign Ruler of the entire cosmos, was entrusting those without any recognized worldly power or authority with the most powerful truth and transforming news of all eternity. God was asking them, of all unlikely people, to deliver to a world desperate for some Good News, the message that a Messiah—a Savior—was among them.
Friends, tonight you and I are here like the shepherds were: many of us shocked by the notion that God could use us to do anything impressive, unsure that we deserve to be entrusted with such a precious message. Nonetheless, God says “I choose you to bring my Good News to the world. And yes, you can and will do amazing things when you act in concert with my Spirit.”
And this Savior, the One about whom shepherds and we share the Good News, was the embodiment—the Incarnation—of Love, of God’s own dream for this world. Furthermore, in a most unexpected turn, this Savior first came and lived among as a newborn baby: as vulnerable as could possibly be, wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a feeding trough for cattle. Because, as the shepherds themselves had experienced, the world did not recognize or welcome them—there was no room for them among the busy, or the important, or the otherwise preoccupied.
Tonight, we come to hear again the story that feeds our own hopes and dreams: of a world where, by the life and actions of such a vulnerable one the hungry are filled; the pompous powerful are brought low; the neglected and despondent are noticed, named, and healed. It is through the actions of a vulnerable, powerful God who came to us as one of us, that we glimpse the divine dream and dare to realize a world where everyone has enough, and the dignity of each and every person is honored. We come with our personal hopes and private fears to hear yet again the enduring story revealed throughout history and in our Holy Scriptures, of a God of endless creativity and compassion, whose desire is to nurture a relationship of love and meaning, of joy and hope with each of us and among all people.
We are here tonight to listen to and proclaim once more the stories of our faith. The narratives of God speaking a message of love and promise to those who were open to hearing and accepting the divine Word. We’re here to be reminded of those who dreamed, and dared to hope and believe even in outlandish and impossible dreams—because it was only by doing so that they discovered that with God, nothing is impossible.
And tonight, we are the dreamers of those dreams … because these visions are God’s own; they’re the divine desires that gave birth to this world. And remember, we are miraculously created in God’s own image; the light and truth of God’s eternal Word dwells within each one of us.
So tonight, in this pandemic-plagued world beset by so much pain and isolation, so much misunderstanding and fear, in this year when we have observed and felt our vulnerabilities so acutely, as we acknowledge the profound yearning for relief and consolation to meet our personal and global woes: we are among the dreamers of God’s dreams. Let us be the bearers and sharers of God’s light. Let our visions and stories, our actions – our lives – bear bold, courageous witness to the ages-old story of our faith.
And may our dreaming give rise to new realities as those who seek to live as disciples of Jesus Christ—as those in whom his Spirit has come to dwell. As those who reveal Emmanuel. Amen.