24 December 2013

A sign for you (Christmas Day sermon)

Passage: Luke 2:1-20

Do not be afraid, for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord”.

And this will be a sign for you
What a marketing moment waiting there in God’s hands!  What a  blockbuster opportunity.  What a time to bring out the promotional big guns! But that's not how things turn out!

How does this anointed, saving one greet humanity? In a helpless, defenceless baby … born according to Luke, in a cattle feed-trough; born in squalor, in a shelter fit for animals, perhaps not that different to how the shepherds own children may have been born.

No beautifully decked out nursery for this baby.  Not a single Fisher-Price toy in sight.  The only rattles and noises around this baby … apart from the ones he makes ... are the rattles and noises, poos and moos of the cattle around. The Saviour … the Messiah … The Lord … born like this?!

This is as basic as a birth gets. And this will be a sign for you


Throughout the ages, people have asked, when times are desperate, “Where is God?”  People still ask that.  “Where is God? I wonder where that baby is today?”

The answer is found in the manger - an assurance for all time, that no time, no place is too dark for God to be there with us.

Louie Giglio: The Miracle of Christmas is that God fit all that we will ever need ... in a manger

At the core of Christian faith is the belief that God became flesh, assumed a human nature, and became a man in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus Christ - fully God, fully human.  It's what we call the Incarnation.

6For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The prophecies in Isaiah and the gospel accounts of Jesus' birth are God’s astonishing answer to all the things

  • that would try to destroy love,
  • that would try to destroy hope,
  • that would stand in the way of peace and justice, humanity dignity and joy
  • that would try to convince us that God is somehow far away, disinterested in your life or mine … out of touch with the brokenness and pain of our world.

This Christmas story, as Luke tells it, reminds us how God’s love breaks through; how God’s love defies

  • a world that makes so many people vulnerable and powerless;
  • a world too busy and distracted, for the most part, to care;
  • a world that for too many people across this planet, down through the pages of time, is hostile … dangerous …

In Jesus, God steps right into that.  This will be a sign for you.

A sign? We who seek to walk in the footsteps of Christ … Emmanuel … Saviour … Lord are called to be that sign.

We are those whose lives have been touched, changed, transformed, renewed, challenged, inspired, loved, overwhelmed by Jesus Christ.  We know Emmanuel.  We know Christ, because we have that assurance, by the Holy Spirit, of Christ’s abiding, saving presence in our lives.

We are called to be a sign to our world - the world of our workplace, our family, our church and local community, our friendship networks ... that Christ is alive and well - kicking and screaming and squealing amongst humanity.

What will it mean for you to be that sign … that pointer to the Good News of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, this Christmas and all the days that follow?

We who worship Christ born among us this day - we be that sign.

You see a sign both points toward something and a sign can also be something.

You see, Jesus Christ comes in flesh into this world out of love - not any love, but God’s love.

Love was and is and will ever be key to Jesus’ life.  It's love that brings him into our world as the babe of Bethlehem.

It’s love that leads him to value the unlovely, the powerless.  It's love that leads him to die on the cruelest of crosses for our sake. Love. Jesus shows what love is all about. Yet 2000 years on, we have still not learned to love one another as Christ loved us.

What does this love that Christ was born to show us call us to do?  It calls us to look at the world with the eyes of God. It calls us to be signposts for God - to point to the love and hope and peace that is God in Jesus Christ.

It calls us to be love … to look at one another with compassion and understanding and mercy, rather than fear and judgment and anger.

It calls us to see the world with eyes that can envision peace and justice on earth and good will among people - all people. I wonder where that child is today?

That child is incarnated in the life you and I seek to live - in the peace, hope and love that is Jesus Christ.

To those fearful shepherds, the angel promises a sign - a sign that the Saviour is born among humankind. And so they take notice of that sign.

They know no other option but to go to that place “which the Lord has made known” to them.

Christ is born. We celebrate that with joy this day. May you … may I … may each one of us be wonderful signposts to the reality of Christ … Emmanuel … God with us … God alive in this world … God’s world.

And may you go from this place, like the shepherds long ago, returning to your homes, glorifying and praising God for you have encountered the One who enters into our humanity.

For you have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth; and you want to know … and experience … and share that One like never before.  Amen.


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