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From Ordinary to Holy

I’ve experienced over 16,000 nights on this earth. Most of them pretty normal…unremarkable really. Most of the time I go to bed and wake up and go about my business as usual. During this season in life my nights are full of quiet routine; work, exercise, dinner, homework, sports. I kiss my kids goodnight and go to bed at a reasonable time so that I can wake up and do it all again. Honestly, for the most part that’s the way I like it because in my lifetime there have been a handful of nights that I went to bed thinking all was right and then woke up to the world being radically shaken.

On September 10, 2001 I went to work, picked my sweet 10 month old baby boy up from the sitter after work, went home, fed him dinner, gave him a bath, read him 2 of his favorite stories, rocked him and snuggled him and sang Jesus loves you, laid him in his crib, kissed him goodnight, did some work, and went to bed with the intention of waking up the next morning to do it all again. Little did I know that while I slept that night, plans were being set into motion that would change the world the next day. You may remember that night too. My alarm went off before the sun was up the next morning and I began my day. All seemed like a typical day until I received a call during my first class from my principal saying that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade center. I turned on the television in my classroom and a room full of teenagers and I watched as history unfolded. We watched as the news reported of terrorism and destruction. We watched as the death toll rose. We watched as our world changed forever. The lives of the people that lost loved ones that day changed in ways that we can’t understand but the impact of those attacks changed the lives of every human on the planet that day and we responded. The way in which people interacted with each other changed…people were kinder to each other…the way the nation mourned looked different…travel became restricted…fear became a reality. September 11 was recorded in history books along with other world changing events like The Challenger, Sandy Hook, President Lincoln’s assassination, Pearl Harbor, and D-Day…all nights that people went to bed thinking all was mundane and normal and woke up to a radically different world. Every year when the anniversaries of theses events come around, people pause and remember and tell stories.

Tonight we are getting ready to pause and remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus; an ordinary night by all human accounts. Shepherds watched their sheep and people made dinner and took care of their households. Exhausted from their day, people sang to their babies, gave them baths, kissed them goodnight and went to bed with the intention of waking up the next day to do it all again, but while they slept plans were being set in motion to change history in the most radical way of all time.

In 1847, a French poet was asked to write a poem for Christmas. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, he imagined witnessing that morning first hand. His poem was turned into a song and performed only 3 weeks later at a midnight mass on Christmas Eve and we still sing the song every Christmas Eve in churches everywhere. O holy night. It’s a song that explains how the world functioned the night before Jesus came, how it changed when He was born, and how we should respond.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was born; O night, O holy night, O night divine! O night, O holy night, O night divine!

That night the world went to sleep steeped in sin and error, but then Jesus arrived on the scene to take it away for all of history! That means for you and me. There was nothing we could do to make things right with God. Humanity was bound by sin with no chance of breaking free. Jesus was born to die so that we would finally feel our worth because you, my friend have great worth. You are chosen and loved. You were planned and created in the image of an all-powerful God. You’re life has great meaning and purpose and Jesus came so that you could live an abundant life here and now.

That ordinary night changed everything for us.

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming, Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land. The King of kings lay thus lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friends. He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Jesus can relate to us. Jesus faced all of the trials and trouble that we face today. Jesus felt pain and rejection. He wept. He got angry. He was tempted.

Jesus put on flesh and walked in our shoes so that when we go to Him with every detail of our lives, and I mean every detail…the good, the bad and the down right ugly.

we can know without a doubt that He understands what we are laying at His feet. Nothing that has happened to us or will happen to us…nothing we have done or will do…nothing we have struggled with will ever throw Him. You can take that one to the bank.

Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, With all our hearts we praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, His power and glory ever more proclaim! His power and glory ever more proclaim!

When humanity went to sleep that night, they were comfortable in their selfish ways; comfortable oppressing others and looking out for themselves, but when they woke up the next morning all that changed.

Jesus spent His time on earth showing us exactly how to love ALL people.

The creator of everything chose a humble entry onto earth and taught us to love. Love God. And love people. That’s what pausing to remember this night is about. It’s that simple and yet that profound. God moved heaven and earth to show us how much He loves us and our response is to love others the same way…to live abundantly and sing His praises to a watching world.

If our world and our response to our world changes because of natural disaster or terrorism or assassination, how much more should it change from the event of our King’s birth? When you sing this song, I hope that you will sing it differently. I hope that you will remember what your life looked like before and after Jesus entered into your reality. I hope that your heart posture will be one of “on your knees surrender and praise and worship” to our King for the way He changed the world on an ordinary night. I hope that you will go to bed tonight on this ordinary night in your life knowing this time that your world will never be the same because of the work Jesus did for you so long ago. And when you wake up tomorrow morning, I hope that you will do everything within your power to love others the way that He loved you…sacrificially…abundantly…inclusively.

If you don’t remember anything you just read, remember this: I love you and I’m glad you are here.


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