Sermon Christmas Eve December 24, 2016
Isaiah 9:2-7 Psalm 96 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-20
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer.
Christmas is the time when we celebrate the Birth of the Saviour of the world but for many it is only a time of gift giving, feasting, family reunions and fun, which is all well and good, if you ignore what I first said “Christmas is the time when we celebrate the Birth of the Saviour of the world”. Christmas in the West has become a secular holiday and once it’s over, it’s time to get great deals at the Bay, the Brick and Best Buy, which is all well and good if you ignore what I first said “Christmas is the time when we celebrate the Birth of the Saviour of the world”. Most Christians come to Christmas Eve Services to celebrate that. If you are not a frequent flyer with us, I am genuinely happy that you are here, and I invite you to seize the opportunity to come closer to the year-round God. Admittedly the Christmas Eve Service is a good and warm, snuggly kind of Service, we come in out of the cold and for once we are not called to do something else, correct our behaviour or be reminded that the Baby we celebrate will die on a gruesome Cross. But right there I have ruined the whole thing haven’t I ? But it is the Truth.
For those who believe, this is a Holy Night, for those who welcome the Baby Jesus with eyes wide open knowing that He is not just a Babe in Swaddling Clothes but the champion of our souls to everlasting life, welcome to you too. To me that knowledge is much better than thinking about sheep and cows, shepherds and wise men even though they too have a part to play, like us, but they are not the story – Jesus is the story.
And in our joy at that we cannot do much better than repeat the Psalm “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the whole earth. Sing to the Lord and bless his name; proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day”. Well, there it is again, we have something to do, another responsibility – proclamation ! What do we have to do ? Well the Psalm says “Declare his glory among the nations and his wonders among all peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised ”. You know that’s really not so hard to do, if you accept Who the Baby in the manger is, and the Blessing we receive from His coming.
We have to give credit where credit is due, so the Psalmist urges us to “Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples; ascribe to the Lord honour and power. Ascribe to the Lord the honour due his name; bring offerings and come into his courts”. ‘Ascribe’ that is ‘give credit to’. Yes give God the glory, not only for tonight but for every day and night. Do that and this Christmas Eve we will truly come together here, and then we will “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” the way the angels did on this night two thousand years ago singing at the tops of their voices in true joy – in ecstasy. / We are charged by the Psalmist to spread the Good News, he says “Tell it out among the nations: ‘The Lord is king !’ ” We are called to relish this day and he says “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the field be joyful and all that is therein”. It is right that all Creation should be joyful for its Creator and that we join in with it. Because “Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy before the Lord when he comes, when he comes to judge the earth”. All this taken together is a truly joyful prospect.
And rightfully so, because we have to admit that humanity has gone down some pretty dark tunnels in its time and even though Michelle Obama might urge us to “go high when they go low” it would be our lower instincts that win the day, because they are always the easy way out of a dilemma. It’s easy to blame others, to take advantage of others in difficulty, it’s easy to ignore the needs of others, to be protectionist and self-centred, which is where our instincts lead us when we have been hurt physically or emotionally or spiritually. But just think how awful a world it would be if we just concentrated on the immediate and the self ! God did not intend us to live like that. We are intended to live a full and rich life, sharing its abundance physically, emotionally and spiritually. And thankfully we do indeed get from low to high tonight because of Jesus’ Birth.
As with any newborn we look on Jesus with great expectations. Truly there is nothing that a new baby cannot potentially do. Every great person, every loving person, every saint, every ordinary Jack or Jill, and every sinner was once a newborn, sounding and smelling and feeling the way a newborn should. From birth there are three ways to go: to greatness, to the regular and the norm, or to infamy. We dream of greatness and pray for anything but infamy. Every child has a purpose in God’s plan, we all have a purpose in God’s plan, and it is not to less than perfection. On this night God brought us one of us, but an extraordinary one of us. Not the usual kind of baby but His kind of baby, His Son, Who is the Redeemer of the World. We do need redemption, just as much as we need relief from our aches and pains, our heartaches and our tragedies. Our spiritual care is far more important than our physical care though. If we don’t have a quiet mind then the other things of life tend to seem worse or even get worse. / It was pretty quiet in the stable when Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph, and the animals too were settling down to the comfort, the softness, the warmth and the quiet that follows the wonder of birth, and this Baby had more potential than could be contained in that small place. As the night deepened what do you think Mary and Joseph dreamt about ? They knew what had happened. The only Son of God had come into the world as the most fragile of human beings, to be one of us, to save us, indeed to save us from ourselves. What an awesome responsibility what an amazing honour. Tonight you can share in that honour by adopting The Child as your own and take over where Mary and Joseph left off, and helping this Baby to truly become the Saviour of the World as God intended, and rejoicing in that mission and belief have a Merry and a Holy Christmas. Amen.