Coming up with a new Christmas sermon series every year is hard. After 30 years there are only so many new twists on mangers, shepherds and donkeys.
This year I want to do a series on the mystical imagery of the Christmas story as found in the hymns. I think the Christmas hymns touch us in a way that the other symbols usually don’t. I think they are more transparent. We have a better sense that they are speaking of living and loving and not about an historical event.
In addition to celebrating the Christmas season, my hope is this series may illumine some of the other symbols of our faith as well.
Everyday Mysticism: The message of the Christmas hymns
“The Silent Word is Pleading” (from “What Child Is This?”)
Can the words of religion awaken us to awareness instead of belief?
“God rules the world with truth and grace” (from “Joy to the World”)
Can we imagine the sacred without any idea of domination?
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” (O Little Town of Bethlehem)
Practical mysticism is living in the ambiguities of life. Personal peace is not numbness, but a balance of our fears and desires.
“Love’s pure light” (from “Silent Night”)
Love is the litmus test for our religion. It illumines everything.
“Peace on earth good will to all” (from “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”)
Religious unity is not found by choosing the right sect, but in opening to universal compassion.
“How silently, how silently the precious gift is given” (from O Little Town of Bethlehem)
Learning that life is the answer and religion consists of the questions that lead us to a full life.