December 25, 2021

Sermon Christmas Day 2021

Service Type:

This Sermon was not recorded but the Sermon Christmas Day HC service   ‘21 Sermon Notes are below.

Luke 2: 1 -

Intro

Have you ever been given a totally unexpected message – just out of the blue ?

Or have you been approached by someone in authority who tells you something which is really significant, and you wonder why they’ve chosen to tell  you ?

Talking of important unexpected messages...

This is for many, a very familiar story, but let’s just think again, how  Mary & Joseph must have felt?

Mary, having been told earth shattering news, that she was going to have a baby – a very special baby,  humbly accepts what was asked of her.  She was fully aware of all the implications and the reaction of her neighbours and community at large

And Joseph having his happy plans of an exciting future with his soon to  be wife - again, shattered by the news of her pregnancy...

What a kind man, not to haul her before her family and community, to  say how he had been insulted and humiliated...

( in the current culture of the time, he could have had her stoned )

but      he very obviously loved God and appears to have experience of being guided by God  ...

and he loved Mary So Joseph paused and  contemplated what action he should take...

In fact, he was thinking of quietly divorcing her and each go their separate ways ...

However, despite the turmoil, Joseph heard God’s direction through the angel messenger in a dream  - and he obeyed !!

He can’t have understood what was going on or why, but had  the faith and trust to go ahead and he carried out the instructions completely, going on to name the  baby, ‘Jesus’  (One  who saves)   he is  acknowledging that he himself also needs sins forgiven...

he wasn’t too proud to judge Mary and forget his own failings, but he has the patience to wait to see how God works out  His purposes

Joseph goes on to receive more news ...that he is expected  to travel to his home town of Bethlehem, to his place of birth, where he has to register, because the authorities in Rome have decreed it ...

He takes Mary with him – maybe to not leave her alone, to face the community without his support, in her later stages of pregnancy – but what a frightening journey for them both  - very uncomfortable for her and  he would feel the weight of such responsibility

When they arrived, they couldn’t find anywhere to stay, so  they had to make the best of what was offered to them it’s hard to get your head around  - the Son of God being born in such basic surroundings and the heavenly angels giving such a beautiful display of worshipping God for the  .... shepherds!

Yet, it is also the message that Jesus the Son of God came to dwell literally in the midst of us, in all our poverty and disorganised lives      ‘Immanuel  God with us’

Some other people in the Gospel reading today, had an unexpected visit and an important message and they no doubt would wonder for a long time why they had been chosen to be the hearers of such wonderful news ...

and to be entrusted to act on it

Shepherds were not valued members of the community and they spent their time out in the fields with the sheep who probably would have been the ones going to be sacrificed in the Jewish religious practices – offered by people to acknowledge their wrongdoing before God and pay for the animal sacrifice, to express their sorrow

The shepherds were just minding their own business  - when suddenly, a terrifying spectacle appeared before them.

In order for them to be able to pay attention to the amazing  message – the angel messenger had to reassure them that they didn’t have to be afraid –  they weren’t in trouble, but rather they were going to hear some wonderful joyful news of great importance !

So now they had to leave their sheep and go into the centre of the town to look for this baby, probably  facing a lot of resistance from the inhabitants as they searched, but they persisted...

The shepherds had been told how to find the baby - that  He would be wrapped up in strips of cloth and laid in a manger ! – not a usual occurrence !

From being shepherds leading sheep, they were to meet the Good Shepherd who would lead them throughout their lives & they would have been thrilled to find everything just as they had been told – confirming that they had been chosen to hear this first, and to tell others about it – what an honour !

We’re told that Mary ‘pondered’ over everything...

she had gone thru the physical and emotional stress of giving birth in a place far from home,  surrounded  by strangers and hearing about more messages from angels -  to a group of shepherds !  ... so much to take in !

As we wait for Jesus’ return, we can trust in Him because God keeps His promises ...

It had to be this way, for  Jesus to be fully human  and fully God – being conceived  by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary

Immanuel   God with us

Can we be patient and trusting like Mary and Joseph, to see how God works out His plans for our everlasting peace and  for His glory

& like the shepherds, can we be available to hear this good news and be enthusiastic to rush to find out more  and then  to go on to tell anyone who will listen

C of E booklets  ‘At the heart of Christmas’  - 12 days  of reflections and stories  starting from Christmas eve.

For Christmas eve, Archbishop Justin Wells, reflects on the heart – how it is necessary for pumping the blood  round our bodies, but is also a strong image for when talking of things that really matter to us He goes on to say  ‘ the heart is where humanity seems to meet divinity’

In Jesus, God becomes human He  doesn’t watch us in a detached manner from a distance but lives amongst us and experiences joys and

heartbreak, knowing sorrow and pain.

Col 2:9-10, 13-15

Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

13  you were dead in your sins ...God made you alive with Christ.

He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our debts,  which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Whatever is going on in our lives, may we invite Jesus Immanuel to give us His peace and direction for all we face and deal with

Amen