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Go Tell It On The Mountain

John 1:1-18

The Rev. Jon Roberts

24 December


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. 9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.


Calling of the disciples Sistine Chapel by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1481

Christmas Eve Candlelight Festival of Lessons & Carols

“Go tell it on the mountain”

For over two thousand years the church has been telling the world that Jesus Christ is born. We have been telling it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere but where do you suppose one can find a mountain, here in Florida? Where is the nearest hill even? Telling people about God, and how we find the concept of a nativity stretches further back and is something that has been going on further back in history. Listening to the nine lessons this evening, the story of God and man begins at the time of creation in the Garden. It is a succession of people tellin’ it on the mountain.[1] All that we seemingly hear is about how they made mistakes; how they disobeyed God; how they ran away from Him. How is that tellin’ it on the mountain?

The author of this hymn came from a big family, with seven brothers from his father and priest, Sebastian. It was John Wesley, who you might recall, who told others about Jesus. Along with his brother Charles in places like Georgia, South Carolina, even perhaps the northern part of Florida, hardly a place for a hill, they were telling it and singing about the story of Jesus. They told it on the mountain, by John writing this song in 1865, the time right after the end of extreme bloodshed in a not-so-Civil War. The song was meant to rejoice. A new day had begun, a new birth for a nation. Whether it is war, pestilence or poverty, there are lots of mountains out there. In 1963, the band, “Peter, Paul and Mary” did a rendition of this spiritual hymn to accommodate another civil movement of rebirth. Apparently our country has been telling others about the freedom that comes in believing Jesus and annunciating his birth. From Adam & Eve to present day God meets us on the mountain.

Climbing mountains is a lot of hard work and it’s exhausting. How many have you climbed and how many more will you climb? If we look back at these lessons heard tonight, it is an endless procession. God was aware that we could not climb them alone. He sent his son, down from the holiest mountain, that which is in heaven, to heal our wounds, to soothe our afflictions and to fill our emptiness. A simple baby would deliver not only the message but the means to carry this out. Whenever we see a baby, it changes our whole heart. We see hope. We look at the child and pray they don’t have to go through what we went through. They have a new beginning. That is why we sing glad tidings of comfort and joy. That is how we are able to go up that mountain once more.

Tonight, light has been brought into the world for a good reason. God wants you to respond to Him. He wants you to call out to him. He wants you to come and live in adoration of the one who was sent to give you a new birth. This is the one time out of the year when we need to hear His voice, to proclaim peace and let the baby set the captive free. Pray that tonight, in this silent night, this holy night, Jesus will touch your heart and give a spark for something new. Pray that Jesus will give you a new birth to face all your challenges and let light shine in.[2] Pray that you will have the strength, to go and tell it on the mountain.

[1] Isaiah 11:9, 52:7
[2] John 1:1-14

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