Stand With . . .

Timothy C. Ahrens

The First Congregational Church

United Church of Christ

Columbus, Ohio

Christmas Eve, 2000

Matthew 2:1-12 and Luke 2:1-20

(Part 4 of 6 in the sermon series, "The Birth of Faith")

Tonight's meditation is the fourth in a series of six sermons I am delivering during the Advent and Christmas seasons. The series is entitled "The Birth of Faith." The first three sermons have been entitled: "Wake Up!," "Cry Out!," and "Reach Out."

The first two are available in booklet form found in the information rack by the office. The third one, delivered this morning, is in manuscript form in the same location . . . I invite you enter into this fourth sermon "Stand With . . . " "Stand With...." is a poem more than a sermon. Listen for the story of the birth of Christ, the birth of faith . . .

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Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and meditations of each one of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our salvation. Amen.

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"Stand With . . . "

Written by Tim Ahrens

We are all traveling, always traveling,

The earth around the sun, the galaxy through space,

The universe moving outward - so they say;

Nothing is stationary -

all of us moving,

from here to there, from town to town,

From time to time, from now to then,

From beginning to end.

We are moving . . .

Occasionally we stop to pray, to reflect, momentarily,

To love, to eat, to sleep.

Travelers all are we.

On that night, the galaxy itself seemed to stand still.

A star shining, a star stopped in the sky.

The star stopped,

the light stopped,

The night stood still.

The night often brings the beasts from the bushes

and the predators from the paths of darkness,

but this night stood still,

bathed in light,

a silence to the still night,

then a song of angels split the wind of silence

and the light was from within and not just above us

and we were travelers no more.

We had a destination1

The angels said,

"No fear - for you!

A child - for you!

This night - for you!

Stand now. Run fast. Stand with . . . "

And we stood and ran

from grass to hay

from hillside to barn

from star light to God light,

from angel verses to baby babble

From beginning to end - Alpha and Omega!

I have seen the birthing of God's creatures

messy and hard at times,

bloody and easy at times,

but this particular, peculiar birth

was crowded by creatures

with paw prints and footprints

all travelers - some coming to rest,

some to carry,

others to witness,

Still others to stand with.

I saw His face for a moment,

or maybe a lifetime . . .

In Him was Light,

In Him . . . Love,

In Him . . . Life!

There was sadness, secrets, strength and struggle

in His Eyes . . .

It was as though he were as deep and as old as the universe,

But as clear and as new as a stream through the Galilean Hills!

Father and mother,

worn, wasted, hurting and hopeful!

Beasts anxious from star shine and humankind

Trembled and shifted and bawled and whimpered.

He stayed awake all night looking over us,

Looking in us,

Looking through us.

Helpless and Hopeful,

Little, yet larger than the sky.

He was FOR us!

He was child -- all for us!

When the morning star broke and out shined the night star

We who dwelt in darkness were no longer there.

We who wandered and traveled alone

had one who was present to stand with us!

As time moves on we travel still.

We move too much and are still too much apart,

too much alone, too much away from the Light.

Do not move, as I have moved

- constant -

without pause.

But, this night, be still,

Remember the one whose light

is coming into the world, still:

Stands with you, still.

Stand with Him, still.

Stand with others.

Stand with God.

Stand with....

Amen.

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