The shepherds came, saying “Let’s go see this thing that has taken place.”
And the magi came, following a star, to see what was under it.
And, knowing people, folks from the neighborhood would also have come, drawn to the place where something unusual seemed to be happening.
They came because they were curious. The shepherds were curious to see what the angels were going on about. The magi were curious to learn if the star really was the sign of an ancient prophecy being fulfilled. And the neighbors, well, you know neighbors. They were just curious.
It’s different now. Now we know what the angels were going on about. We know that the ancient prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of that child. We know that the neighbors would have seen what seemed to be a perfectly ordinary father and mother and infant, who were, in fact, quite extra-ordinary. So we sing, “O Come all you faithful,” because tonight and tomorrow all the faithful will come to churches all over the world to celebrate the birth of that extraordinary Child. We come together to fill the air with songs of praise and adoration, just as the angels did on that darkly beautiful night so long ago. We come because we are the faithful.
Or, perhaps you are here with your families because it’s Christmas Eve and that’s what your family does on Christmas Eve. Or maybe you are here because you know the music is going to be amazing. Or maybe you are here because you are curious.
You know, the early Christians used to go out and care for the neighbors, even the ones who weren’t believers. They brought food to the hungry and helped the sick. They comforted the grieving. They brought clothing to the naked. And the people of the neighborhood became curious. They asked themselves, “What makes these Jesus followers so different? Why are they so caring and compassionate, even to strangers?” And because they were curious, they came, and when they heard the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness, they stayed. And the Good News was spread from house to house and from person to person.
I would hope, if you are here because you are curious, it’s because someone from a church told you that church is ok, and non-threatening. That’s what I needed to hear in the days when I was becoming curious. And then I met someone who told me that church is simply a collection of like minded people who come together to worship God. And that got me more curious. And because I was curious, I found a church, and I went to see what it was like, and I kept going back.
Maybe you are curious because this is an absolutely beautiful building and you want to know what goes on in here. Or maybe you have met someone who told you how much they love this congregation and invited you to come sometime. Maybe you have been served by our folks at a food pantry or Christian Cafe dinner and you want to know if we are all so giving and caring. Or maybe you have heard that in this place we say that all are welcome, and all means ALL - everyone. No matter who you are. We welcome everyone just as Jesus welcomes us. The shepherds and the Magi and the neighbors. The faithful, and the curious.
On this Christmas Eve, on this night when we celebrate the coming of the Christ Child into the world, we lift up our hearts and our voices in lavish praise of our Lord. And when we leave this place, when we walk back out into the darkness, may we carry the light of his love in our hearts. And may that love, poured out from us upon others, light a spark in someone’s life, and make them curious. Amen.