You need to stay awake to come to Midnight Mass.
You need to stay awake to be a Christian, awake to the love that over and around us lies and its working out of justice and righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore. (Isaiah 9.7)
We live in a world full of sleep walking.
Over this last year both Britain and the United States have walked into scenarios no one would have imagined a year ago. The world seems to have been in hibernation over Syria. Even in this village some would say we've sleep walked over the neighbourhood plan though many are waking up to their responsibilities.
To be a Christian is to be awake to what’s good and true and beautiful and to work with others to establish justice and righteousness - for when good folk sleep evil triumphs.
That first Christmas, angels woke the shepherds with their news of great joy. Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours. (Luke 2).
That event is less attested than the Easter angels heralding love stronger than death that woke the world and made half of it Christian today!
Our wake up call is Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to enfold the world with his love.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontus Pilate, crucified, dead and buried. On the third day he rose again.
This good news is our wake up call.
No hibernation for Christians, however much we want to in December!
No hibernation but attentiveness to the risen and ever new Lord Jesus Christ, to our need of him, to our neighbour and to a world crying out for justice.
If there were more folk on such alert to others there'd be more courageous Jo Cox types and less self serving in our public life.
Here’s the sleep walking we need to wake people out of, to help them see how much they and all that is is loved and the consequences of that.
So many strengths in the world but so little consecration of it to advance the poorest in the world.
No wonder St Catherine of Siena said she wanted to imitate those angels and roar out the good news, to jolt awake the self preoccupied church of her day.
Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace among those he favours is our wake up call to praise and service. Where there’s no peace it’s a sign of disfavour and there’s a wake up call to put wrong right.
What does it mean to be out of favour with God?
Scripture addresses this wherever it addresses injustice.
It also links disfavour to disbelief. In Hebrews 11 verse 6 we read without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Christmas is about waking up faith and waking believers into more active faith.
It’s about putting fresh trust in God as the God who fills heaven and earth with his glory!
When you put faith in God you receive a gift of peace beyond human understanding.
Find that peace and many around you will find salvation.
I have seen this, even in this congregation, a rippling out of joy in the Lord.
No one could turn toward eternity if he had not seen in the eyes or in the face of one person the shining of eternal life wrote Archbishop Anthony Bloom.
Could that be seen in your eyes, your face tonight? Why not?
O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us today!