Our Christmas Gift

A written sermon for Christmas Day, based on Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

What a privilege it is to be sharing with you on this Christmas Day.  I pray that whatever this day brings for you, you will know God with you.

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When I moved to my first appointment as a Presbyter, I had always lived in cities, big, bright, lively cities.  That appointment included several small villages.  I had been several times to those villages and thought I knew where I was and what I was doing.  Until one evening, as Autumn drew in, I went to a meeting at someone’s house, parked my car and we got on with the meeting.  It was only when we came out and it had gone dark that I realised there were no streetlights, and I could not see my car never mind pick a way to it.  How different somewhere looks in the dark. Needless to say, my Christmas present that year was a torch and I learned never to go out without it!

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Life at the moment can feel pretty dark.  Crisis after crisis seems to be hitting the news and our personal lives.  Darkness can be overwhelming.  It can feel that we are groping around in the dark.  We do not know what is happening, can’t see how to put it right or find a way out.

Isaiah sees that the people are walking in darkness and are struggling (9:2).  But a light is here to shine.  Into their deepest darkness comes the greatest light. A child is born who is whatever we need (9:6-7): Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Whatever it is we need, this child brings it, born for us, given to us, bringing the peace that the world needs.

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Isaiah’s promise is borne out in the message to the Shepherds, “to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12)

Imagine being minding your own business, getting on with your job like you do every day of your life, and suddenly an angel lights up the sky and tells you that the Saviour is born, and you are invited to see him.  That this is the Messiah, who everyone has been waiting for, the one who is bringing God’s light and life, who is coming to physically show God’s way.

Titus, writing much later with the hindsight of the life and work of Jesus, also reminds us “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all” (Titus 2:11)  Jesus is not just an interesting person, a birth of note , a life like any other, Jesus is the grace of God, living, breathing showing us God’s love for us and how we can live God’s love for others.

The shepherds were given an invitation to “go and see”, but they had a decision to make.  Should they stay looking after their sheep?  Was that the responsible thing to do?  It was a dark night, did they want to go all that way?  Perhaps they had misunderstood, been blinded by something and imagined all the rest?  Was there really a Saviour, the Messiah to see?  The only way they would find out was by going to look, to the place of encounter and understanding.  So they went and no longer had any doubt.

Isaiah’s promise, the shepherd’s encounter, Titus’ words after knowing the reality of Jesus, are all of discovery of the love and power of God.  God who loves us so much he comes to live among us as a child and then a man.  A human who showed us God’s way to live and offers that way to us.  We need no longer grope in the dark, because Jesus shows the way – to live, to love, to hope. 

That is God’s promise to us still today.  We too can have that place of encounter, of seeing the light shining, hope dawning, peace ruling, God’s love winning.  Our gift this Christmas and every day to ourselves and one another is to take time is to accept it and let it work out in our lives. Today, and every day, may you know the presence, the hope, the light and the peace of Christ, God among us.

       

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~ by pamjw on December 23, 2022.

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