Bishop Rob Wright: 0:00
We know that God has and is and will do amazing things in us and in the world when we say yes to God. Call that the Christmas promise, and it still is news. Maybe tonight, in the quietness of your heart, on this holy night in this place, it’s your night to say yes to God, perhaps for the first time, or like so many others of us yes again.
This is For People with Bishop Rob Wright. Hi listeners, I’m your producer, Easton Davis, and this week’s For People is Bishop Wright’s sermon Breaking News preached at the Cathedral of St. Philip on Christmas Eve. The breaking news is God is breaking into the world as one of us. We wish you a Merry Christmast ide and a Happy New Year.
Bishop Rob Wright: 0:59
From all the facts available, from all the reports received. Here’s what we know. God has done a new thing. God, loving the world as God does, God couldn’t just sit at a distance and watch us struggle. God got involved. God found a way to shoehorn God’s self into time and location and human form and joined us, not as a hologram, but as a heart and a mind. God has done an amazing thing with something as old as human birth. By virtue of our wonderful creation, every human being has dignity Period. However, tonight we celebrate that God has put an exclamation point after the fact of human dignity by taking on our frail flesh. Just think In God’s coming to see about us. God didn’t spare God’s self from the pain of grief or the sting of betrayal, or even the fog of disorientation. God came to us as one of us, for all of us the rich and the poor, the executive and the day laborer, the Russian and the Ukrainian, the asylum seeker and the border patrol officer, the Israeli, the Palestinian. Tonight’s breaking news is very different from the breaking news of the last couple of months. There’s no one that God wants to take hostage, no one God wants to pay back. God wants safety and security for all. To accomplish God’s breaking news, God needed two average human beings, two souls willing to partner with God for the good of the world, a faithful young couple who, despite their legitimate doubts and practical concerns, they choose to let God’s word overcome their reluctance. Call that the Christmas formula. And it still is the Christmas formula. They weren’t two spiritual superathletes. Just two somebody’s from an unimportant nowhere. They were going about the business of life until they were interrupted by an angel’s whisper. Now, at this curious invitation, they somehow know it’s right to bet big on God. Somehow they get the message that it’s life to bet big on God. What we know as the caretakers of this peculiar story. We know that God has and is and will do amazing things in us and in the world when we say yes to God, call that the Christmas promise. And it still is news. Maybe tonight, in the quietness of your heart, on this holy night in this place, it’s your night to say yes to God, perhaps for the first time or like so many others of us. Yes again. The Christmas story every month of the year is simply this God offering infinitely, abundantly, exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine, according to the faith at work in us. That’s the breaking news of tonight. And because Mary said yes to God and found out that God kept God’s Christmas promise, mary does what she breaks out in song. Singing is the best response to God’s breaking news. My soul magnifies God. She sung. My spirit rejoices in God. My Savior Favor has found me even at my bottom. God remembered me. God is doing great things. Tonight’s breaking news started in a field with a few terrified souls and an angel with a simple message Do not be afraid, I am bringing good news of great joy for all people. That’s how God delivers God’s breaking news. It starts in small places. We welcome it into the corners of our hearts and then it grows. Finally, let me say I have to concede that when we hear the term breaking news, it usually means that an act of violence has been committed. Well, if there’s any violence to report tonight with this particular breaking news from the Holy Land, it’s that Christmas has come to break hearts wide open. When Christmas comes, when we give it room, fear suffers multiple fatalities, estrangement meets its superior and arrogance is embarrassed. To this sometimes selfish world that wraps fear and greed in the bright wrapping paper of logic and prose, god injects a liberating, purposeful poetry. Tonight, angels come first to those on the margins. The wealthy endure the hardship of travel just to kneel on a barn floor in front of a peasant family. And those who are in the seats of worldly and religious power. Well, they are sleepless at the rumor of God’s breaking news. The only violence that Christmas ever wants to do is to break hearts wide open and set captives free. Hearts broken open by the undeserved, extravagant love of God at home and in the boardroom and in the corridors of power, is the only way we will cure our sinful warring madness. What I’m trying to say, what I’m trying to say, beloved, is that the breaking news of Christmas can turn your heart and your home upside down, not by guilt, not by shame, but by an overwhelming, unimaginable, illogical, mind-boggling, impossible amount of good breaking news. We don’t deserve this infant visitor. We couldn’t, not even the best of us, and that is the best news of all. You can’t earn the love that appears tonight. You can only respond to it. You can only say, as the shepherd said, let us go now and see this thing that has taken place. Or as the angelic choir said, glory to God in the highest heaven. Or as the psalmist has said, when I consider the sun, the moon, the planets in their courses, what are human beings? That God should come among us and be mindful of us. Tonight’s breaking news turns the sad question marks of the world into unwavering exclamation marks of God. In 1906, a university professor and partner of Thomas Edison, reginald Fessenden, did something previously thought impossible, using new technology. For the time, fessenden spoke into a microphone and for the first time in human history, a human voice was broadcast over the airwaves. What did he say? What could one say that would be equal to that moment? He read the same Christmas story that was just read for us minutes ago. Shocked radio operators on ships and astonished wireless operators at newspapers were amazed, as they normally heard only coded impulses over very tiny speakers. Now they were interrupted by a professor reading the Christmas story. You could say that the story of Jesus’ birth was the first ever breaking news for the modern world. But Fessenden was unaware of the sensation he was causing in the world, that men and women were rushing to hear these words. After finishing his recitation of the birth of Christ, it got better. Fessenden picked up his violin and began to play O holy night, the words written by a lapsed Catholic, put to a tune composed by a Jewish composer, the first song ever sent through the air via radio waves. They had the tune, but we have the words. We have the breaking news together. Long lay the world in sin and error, pining till he appears and the soul felt its worth. A thrilling hope. A weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks. A new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, o hear the angels’ voices. O night, divine O night when. Christ was whole O night divine O night when. Christ was whole Merry Christmas.