Rev. Deacon Shayna Watson

Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands,
Lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing
Sing to the Lord with the harp
With the harp and the voice of song
With the trumpets and the sound of the horn
Shout with joy before the King, the Lord.
Psalm 98:5-7

Christmas is here! Aren’t you excited!?! This is such joyous occasion! Aren’t you glad!

We honor this day as the day hope re-entered into the world. This indeed is a joyous occasion, because of the birth of Christ, our Savior, the Prince of Peace, God with us in the flesh.

AND…sweet baby Jesus could not arrive soon enough! As we anticipated the Christ birth, there was another anticipation that paralleled that of the Messiah-Holiday shopping and party coordinating! We love to see Christmas Come, We love to see it go, AND we get excited all over again for it next year!

I have a confession to make:
I did not complete my Christmas Shopping- I decided to create Epiphany Presents to help appease my guilty conscience.
I did not complete my Christmas Decorating- I have up lights, but no garland, no tree.
I did not complete nor respond to holiday cards…
I have a complete list of “did nots.”… maybe I’m the only one…it’s all right if I am…

It wasn’t until yesterday when I was sitting in hostile territory — you may know it as Wal-Mart — that I finally remembered- “Stop loathing over what I did not have or complete AND be thankful for what I have and for what I did complete.”

So often we slip into the holiday blues, because we fall short of expectations that we or society create for ourselves. The commercialization of Christmas sets the bar very high, which can create resentful and hard feelings:

“Every child must have this latest game or toy…” if they don’t, your parents don’t love you.
“Buy this expensive piece of jewelry for your spouse,” if you don’t, you’re an awful spouse
“Only a Christmas gift says love,” if you don’t give a gift on or before Dec. 25-clearly you are the Grinch who stole Christmas
These messages are unfair, inaccurate, and obviously does not depict the value and worthy of our love and care for our loved ones.

Theodore Seuss Geisel, published “How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957.” He was noted to have written this story to “criticize the commercialization of Christmas without being overly religious.” The Grinch was so mean, he stole a whole holiday! How does one take a whole holiday?!?! Or at least he thought he could take it. He was convinced that if he put items in a bag that those things defined Christmas. He thought it would destroy the town if he confiscated the possessions, but what he didn’t not realize,
Was that Christmas was never about the toys,
It was never about the food, and festivities,
It was never about the things,
It was never about what can be touched, handled, and bought,
But rather Christmas was about a community coming together, sharing their love and hope.

I believe the quote is “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” (from the book The Grinch Who Stole Christmas)

Although we are not Who’s that live in Whoville, we can certainly see the value in remembering that the Christmas is not in things, but rather recalls God that chose to take on flesh and be among us all those years ago and God that still walks with us today. Christmas is all the more celebratory, because we know what it took for the Christ Child to be born. His coming was complicated, challenging and difficult.Mary didn’t have the luxury of lamaze classes, a baby shower, or the comforts of a hospital, but rather, according to his narrative, was born in the darkness of night, in a stable, surrounded by animals, because he was being hunted. Jesus was born into a “non-traditional” family, with a stepfather- Joseph, and all of them, the entire family, including the baby Jesus, were refugees, immigrants in a strange land.

There were systems and powers at work that tried to prevent this hope, Jesus, from entering into the world. King Herod put out a decree to slaughter all male children, because his power was threatened by a prophecy that would potentially usurp his position. Not only was God coming, but there would be a shift in how men, women, and children would hope and dream about a better tomorrow. That is powerful. Many lives were lost so that this one lived. He would later lay down his own, so that many would have a chance at life.

King Herod, much like the Grinch, thought he could destroy hope. King Herod, much like the Grinch, thought he could destroy peace. King Herod, much like the Grinch, thought he could destroy love. But we know that Love Came Down on Christmas… anyway.

Jesus’ entrance into the world is an act of resistance., because despite every effort of King Herod, he was born anyway. Even the kings were sent to destroy him, changed their course and brought him gifts. Jesus’ entrance into the world is an act of resistance to despair. Jesus’ entrance into the world is an act of resistance to oppression. Jesus’ entrance into the world is an act of resistance to hatred, indifference, and static.

So when we say “Merry Christmas” to one another, we are really acknowledging our resilience.

When we say “Merry Christmas” to one another, we are really saying “I see your survival”.

When we say “Merry Christmas” to one another, we are really saying “I wish you peace.”

When we say “Merry Christmas” to one another, we are really saying “I wish you hope.”

When we say “Merry Christmas” to one another, we are really saying “I wish you joy.”

When we say “Merry Christmas” to one another, we are really saying “I wish you love.”

Is someone or something that feels like it might destroy your hope? is someone or something that feels like it might destroy your peace?Is someone or something that feels like it might destroy your love? But we know that Love Came Down on Christmas.

Brothers and sisters in Christ. Unto us this day is born a King. Unto us this day is born a new hope in each of you.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands,
Lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing
Sing to the Lord with the harp
With the harp and the voice of song
With the trumpets and the sound of the horn
Shout with joy before the King, the Lord.

Merry Christmas! And have a blessed New Year to come!


This sermon was preached by The Rev. Deacon Shayna Watson at St. Stephen’s Cathedral on December 25, 2018, for Christmas Day. The readings for the day, which can be found at this link, were:

  • Isaiah 52:7-10
  • Psalm 98
  • Hebrews 1:1-4
  • John 1:1-14