Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-14
There’s just something about this season isn’t there?
And there’s just something about tonight too.
Everything we have been planning for is done! No more shopping to do. Maybe we have a little wrapping left to take care of. The food is bought, we just need to prepare it. The tree is up, the decorations are hung. Almost all of us don’t have to work tomorrow (a BIG thank you to those who work tomorrow to keep us safe, BTW).
I hope that all the pressure of the last few weeks have been kind to you. That your stress levels have been low, and you’ve been able to enjoy the season of preparation.
And now it’s time to take a deep breath and relax.
I’m on the roads a lot of evenings for meetings or whatever, and most nights are quiet it seems. But tonight is a little extra quiet, a little more special feeling. Somehow it’s hard to explain, but it’s true isn’t it! You feel it too, am I right?
Tonight just seems so peaceful. As if the world is waiting for something…
So what are you waiting for?
Some time ago a young man and his wife were taking a long, long trip to a far away town. They had some business to take care of, despite the fact the young woman was very pregnant.
When they arrived, it seems the town was sold out, there was no room in any of the hotels.
The young woman begins to experience contractions, the baby is coming! Here? Why here!? Why would it have to be now? In this place, of all places, why here and now?
Panicking they need to find a place, somewhere safe where the baby could be born… and there’s only one place they can find.
It’s a small barn on the edge of town.
In this inconvenient place, at this most inconvenient time, the child is born.
In the Old Testment, written long before this night, the prophet Micah writes,
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
This child was born right where he was supposed to be born, in the town of Bethlehem.
This child is no ordinary child. This child, as Micah prophesied is the one who will be ruler over Israel. He will be the one God promised. He is the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.
Timothy Keller, a theologian, pastor and writer from New York, shared this yesterday,
“Christmas is an invitation to know Christ personally. Christmas is an invitation by God to say: Look what I’ve done to come near to you. Now draw near to Me. I don’t want to be a concept; I want to be a friend.”
This child has come to for you so that you will know God as more than a man in the sky. This child has come so you will know God as a friend, someone you can trust, someone you can depend on, someone who will be there for you through thick and thin.
All by being born in the unlikeliest of circumstances. This child is God among us. Many prophesies have been spoken in the Bible, in the Old Testament, and they have come true in this child.
This child is a gift from God, one who wishes to speak to our hearts, to bring us love, peace, joy and hope. All of these things God wishes to share with us when we know him as friend.
Tonight IS a special night. It’s a night where a Saviour is born. Your Saviour is born.
Tonight let us remember this life changing gift of love from God who seeks us out in a manger, far, far away. With parents who are far from home. Young parents, feeling lost and overwhelmed as they give birth to their child not in a hospital, or even a hotel. There’s no mid-wife, no family to turn to for help. They are truly alone in giving birth to their son.
Yet not for long.
God sends them visitors. He sends them shepherds made aware of the birth by a choir of angels.
Surely this is a special child. A child who will change the world, not by coming to a palace to be with royalty and leaders. But as one born in a barn, sleeping in a feeding trough, and visited by lowly shepherds.
He is God among us. He is one who has come for us.
And his name is Jesus.
And he is the Saviour of the world.
The Saviour for you.
This Christmas, embrace the love of God made known in this gift from God. A gift you can’t find under a tree. A gift you can only receive when you accept God is offering it to you.
Tonight we celebrate this gift, not wrapped in paper and bows, but wrapped in a blanket lying in a manger.
Merry Christmas, this gift is for you.