Midnight Mass Sermon

God comes to us at night.

Midnight is that magical hour, when one day turns into another. Midnight mass, which we keep right now is that magical time when the world is changed, changed completely from one world into another.

God comes to us at night. The shepherds were doing their tough job out on the hills minding their sheep. They knew that night-time was their time, the time to keep watch, to keep the animals safe.

When we celebrate the arrival of the Magi in a couple of weeks, we will find that they too arrive by the light of a star guided at night.
God comes to us in the darkness. God comes to us at night.

And that is the essence of the good news. For, no matter how dark this night seems to you, it is still Christmas Eve. No matter how little of the light you can perceive or how absent God may yet have appeared to you, this night is a special one. It is in the middle of this night that I say to you – God is born. And it is news, Good News that Christians proclaim, not history.
God is born. Born in a borrowed room sure enough. But born now. Born in us. Born for us, in us, alongside us. Born at last. Come at last. With us at last.

Advent was a waiting time. Children know the longing of waiting for Christmas Day. Those waiting for the birth of a child know what advent waiting is all about. But now, in the middle of this night, he is here. God is with us. Emmanuel.
And the news that I proclaim tonight is the secret to life itself. Live as though God is with you – for God is with you. As this night turns into day and as this Christmas Season rolls into the new year, live as though God is by you, near you, in you – for God is with you.

The word Emmanuel is the word that we celebrate tonight. It means simply “God is with us” and it is both a name and an event and a truth to live by. Emmanuel – one of the names given to the baby in the manger. Emmanuel – the coming of that child into the world – eternity intruding into time and space. Emmanuel – living as though God is with us, for God is with us.
The Christmas story takes us far away – to a borrowed room or even a stable behind an inn packed to overflowing. It takes us deep into the Palestinian night – poor shepherds herding sheep in the hills, occupying Romans herding the people to the different towns for the census.

But the Good News of the Christmas story is that if God has come, come to that place, come to them in that time, then so God comes to us. Now. And in this place.

Once upon a time, there were shepherds who rushed to Bethlehem to find the Christ child born in a manger. But the news, the Good News is that God does not just live in the land of “Once upon a time” nor indeed in the Bethlehem story alone.
God is come. Incarnate. Taking on flesh. Becoming one who would eat and drink. One who would share all that he had with us and who came to share and become all that we are here.

Incarnation. He is come. Born. Flesh and blood. Babies quickly, so very quickly express themselves. Pain. Hunger. Laughter. Joy. Crying for food. Gurgling with pleasure.

The Christmas news is that God is come to share with us what it means to be us. Come amongst us. Come to be with us. Come as one of us.

God incarnate. A God who knows what it feels like to be you.

The shepherds knew this when they went to Bethlehem. They found their God born and laid in a manger, a space with which they as keepers of livestock would have been utterly familiar.

The child was found in a borrowed barn. A place that shepherds would have known all about. God was found in their familiar.
Christ came to shepherds to a place where the animals were kept. Munching their hay and safe from the darkness of the night.
And God is born this night in just the same way. Born in our hearts as we gather around and worship him. Born in our familiar places – our homes and our workplaces are holy, God is there. And born so that we, like the shepherds can, in whatever dark night we find ourselves, sing out with joy for what we have seen and heard.
God is here. Christ is born. Emmanuel. God is with us. Amen.


  1. Raymond Stewart says

    Promoting the Mass as you do is dishonest. You should join the Roman church and leave immediately. Beware that Benedict gives Sodomites a hard time also. God’s word declares that God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    You evidently believe that the Reformation was a mistake. Shame on you for encouraging Romanising within the SEC.

    Romans 1 v16

  2. Bless you Raymond. I’ve no desire to be a Roman Catholic.

    I do think that much of the violence of reformation times was a mistake. Not too keen on reformation fashion sense either.

    Bless the Pope too – the only man who doesn’t need to wear black shoes in church.

  3. Raymond says

    My apologies – could i be right in assuming that Anglo- Catholic is your persuasion ?

  4. Raymond,
    John 8:7.

  5. Raymond,
    If Benedict gives “Sodomites” such a hard time, why would we want to join the Roman Church in the first place?

  6. I’m just a normal sort of catholic, but, like a lot of Scottish Episcopalians, have been nourished by the Oxford Movement.

  7. Raymond says


    As a professing minister you should know better than to take Holy Scripture out of its context and missapply it as you clearly do.
    Like the Reformers, Latimer and Ridley I believe the Mass to be a blasphemous fable and a dangerous deceit. Shame on the Scottish Episcopal Church for allowing itself to be influenced by the Romanising Oxford Movement.

    Kelvin will you be joining Papa for the canonisation of John Henry Newman ?

    Galatians 5 v 1

    • Enough already!

      I won’t be joining the Pope for the canonisation of JH Newman though I might be prepared to light a candle should anyone ever build a shrine to Newman’s Tassel exhumed from the grave he shared with his beloved.

      The mass continues to be celebrated not only with enthusiasm but also with delight, tenderness and a sense of humour at St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow.

      Now, no more throwing scripture verses around. No more slagging off of catholics (anglo, roman, queer, common or garden variety) and no more grumpy stuff about other believers. There are other places for that kind of thing on the web and my blog isn’t one of them.

  8. David | Dah•veed says

    Christmas Trolls!

    God bless us every one.

    I wish you the Blessings of the Season dear Father in God, Kelvin.

  9. The greatest commandment is to love, non?

  10. Yes, the pope’s red shoes are such an important theological matter, lol !


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