On Sunday we heard about Mary's song and considered it a lullaby to her baby, tonight we continue with this song and imagine her singing sweetly, softly to her baby Jesus. Maybe as he lay in the manger Mary again sang a sweet melody over her Baby, a melody like so many mother before her sang and so many after sang. She sang to calm her child, and keeping with tradition, to ward off the evil Lilith, a mythical demon who devours children in Hebrew folk lore. The words of this lullaby she remembers so well. Words that Jesus himself would preach in his first public sermon at Synagogue in Nazareth, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour." Tonight we hear these worlds parallel to each other, from the mouth of Mary, the new Mother and in the background voice of Jesus, who's life fulfills them.
Tonight the wait is over. The baby Jesus, whom we've been waiting for over these long, busy and even tragic weeks of Advent has arrived. For our children the wait hasn't been so much for the the symbolic arrival of a baby, but the very practical arrival of a rather large, jolly, white bearded man in a red suite....thats right...ole St. Nick! Now St. Nick, or St. Nicolas of Myra, was a real person who did a lot of the same things we credit his folk personality for. He was a rich man who inherited a large sum of money after his parents death. He was also a devote Christian who rose up through the ranks of the church to become Bishop of Myra. St. Nicholas was even present as one of the churches "chief theologians" summoned by Emperor Constantine at the council of Nicaea to lay the foundations for Orthodox Christianity, but none of this went to St. Nicolas' head. Instead he gave all his wealth away, not all at once, but little by little, to deserving needy people and families. He is said to have purchased young girls freedom from the sex slave trade, purchased pardons for those sentenced to die, who's chief crime was being desperate. He bought grain, paid leases and provided clothing for the most vulnerable of societies population. He was also know to purchase grave sites and tombs for the poor's dead, because if a poor person died and was unable to purchase a grave or tomb, their remains were either thrown out of the city for wild animals or burned up at the city dump. How sad would it be if we could not visit the grave of our loved ones and remember them? St. Nicolas embodied the lullaby of Christmas in his life and he challenges us to do the same in our life.
There's a story about an old organist who was asked to play at one last wedding. He was very hard of hearing, but could still play well enough to preform despite this. As the bride was getting closer to the sanctuary door the wedding planner tried vigorously to get the old organists attention, but to no avail. Finally the wedding planner yelled out his name, "Neil!!, Neil!!! Neillll!!!! And so everyone in the church got on their knees and knelt down. This evening I invite you, the Christmas Child invites you to kneel before the manger and sing....and live Mary's sweet Lullaby of Heaven.
The Reverend Josheua E. Blanchard and Family