Scripture: Luke 2:1-14
Well, it’s finally here. After a month of preparing, a month of parties and food, a month (or more) of shopping, it’s finally the night we’ve all been waiting for.
Christmas has come.
Some of you may have finally breathed a sigh of relief because you’ve got it all prepared for and you are ready. Or maybe you’ve just said, “Close enough” and resigned yourself to the fact you weren’t going to get it all done. The funny thing is, Christmas was going to come whether you were ready or not.
How has your month been? Has it been a time of great stress? Are you exhausted and just glad it’s finally here because you can stop running around so much and be thankful everything is closed for the next two days?
Things can be so hectic it’s hard to find time to rest. Which is maybe why tonight might feel special. Tonight is a night where we can just be ourselves again and relax, and maybe do it with family and friends and celebrate each others company.
But there is more to tonight than just being able to finally relax.
Tonight is a night of adoration, not just celebration.
Tonight we welcome a child into the world, a child born over 2000 years ago. A child born into stressful circumstances. A child who’s parents had no home because of the scandal around where this baby came from. Joseph isn’t even the real father, and that alone is enough to cause them to be shunned in their own village. Add on they are forced by the government to travel a very long way to Bethlehem when Mary is 9 months pregnant and there’s no place to stay when they finally there.
If you’re a parent you know the panic and stress that can happen at the time of birth, especially if you don’t feel completely prepared for what’s about to happen. Now imagine you are far from family, far from home, and have no one around to be your support. And instead of a sterile hospital birthing room, you are in about the dirtiest place you can imagine, a barn.
Yet, as we read this story in our Bibles, what is the overall theme which emerges?
There’s no sense of fear, there’s no stress or worrying, there’s no panic.
Now ladies, I know what you’re thinking, this story was written by a man… who wasn’t even there… years after it happened. So sure, maybe we don’t have all the details.
But as Luke looks back, as Luke reflects on all that Jesus has done and how his life had such impact not only on Mary and Joseph, but the entire world, even after his death, and also his resurrection. Luke sees the joy of the entire scene. Luke is known to be a very good researcher and he worked hard to get the facts of the life of Jesus together as best as he was able. And he has chosen to focus on the joy around the birth of the child born alone and far from home.
Like Cape Breton, family plays a huge role in the time Jesus was born. Yet here are Mary and Joseph far from their home and their families.
So God provides the support they need. The angels go to proclaim the Good News of the birth of the saviour to the shepherds, and they are invited to come and see for themselves.
In the birth of Jesus, God shows us how he has come to share His love with the people on the fringes of society. Not the elites, kings and rulers, but for lowly peasants. Like a teenage mother. Like a refugee. Like outcasts, such as the shepherds are.
Do we see ourselves in the manger scene? Do we sometimes feel like an outsider, not sure how we fit in to the world we find ourselves in?
Jesus has come for you. He has come for all of us. This little baby lying in a manger has come to give us hope. And what wonderful hope it is.
When we leave here tonight, after we have lit our candles and sung Silent Night, when we leave into the peace of this cold December night, what is it we are looking forward to?
Sure there are probably many things. We’d like to know what is wrapped up under our trees. We’d like to dig into that Christmas dinner. We look forward to spending time with family and friends, especially if they have come home from away to be with us.
All of these things make the holidays that much more special.
And so does the reason behind why we gather together.
The birth of Jesus is the only birth in the entire history of the world which has caused us to stop everything else we are doing, across much of the planet, and take a day off. It’s the only birth which has been reason to make a brand new calendar, and one which causes us to split it from before his birth and after his death, BC and AD.
The birth of this child we recognize tonight changed the world forever.
But not just his birth, it’s also the way he lived his life. We read in our Bibles about the lives he touched along his travels. He healed people, he taught them valuable life lessons, he made them feel like they belong, he even brought people back to life! And those lives he touched, especially those men who followed him around for 3 years, his disciples, they were also forever changed. Through those men the church was built. Through those people more came to know about Jesus, his life and teachings, and through those men people were healed as more and more came to know Jesus for themselves. Even after his death.
There’s something about that baby in the manger which started all of this. A movement which completely changed the world, for the better.
People came to worship and adore this child; his parents, the shepherds, the wise men who came to visit some time later.
The angels sang in great praise to the shepherds, with enough joy to cause the dirty men in the fields to want to go see it for themselves.
New babies always draw a crowd. I’m sure you’ve noticed that. Whenever we have a baby in church, I can be sure to know where he or she is at the end of the service simply by looking for where the crowd of people has gathered. It gets tricky when more than one shows up, people aren’t sure where they should go first!
And tonight, we are here because we have heard about a baby. This is a very special baby… now I know all babies are precious and special, but this one is a little more so. This baby is God’s Son. This baby had been promised hundreds of years before his birth, including the circumstances around his parents and where he would be born, and even what his name would be.
This baby is not a normal child, this baby is totally human, but he is also totally God. Even his name, Emmanuel, means God is with us. And through his life we see God in him in the words he speaks, in the way he helps people, and in his death and resurrection so that we may know he lives even today.
This is no ordinary baby we have come to adore tonight. This is a baby who has indeed changed the world for the better. Sure it might not seem like it some days when we read the news, but Jesus has come to show us a better way, a way he will reveal to us when we come to know him more. And it will be a better life than we can choose for ourselves.
I know this baby changed my life for the better when I got to know him 15 years ago for myself.
Will you celebrate this baby with me tonight?
Sure we’re hear for a beautiful Christmas service with our church family, but we’re also here to listen once again for the invitation to let this Christ child into our own lives. To let him change us just as he changed those around him 2000 years ago. Just as he continues to change lives today for people who accept the invitation to let him into their lives.
This is no ordinary baby.
This is no ordinary life.
This is Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, the King of the world, God among us, who has come for us.
Let us welcome him, let us adore him, let us worship our God who gives such a generous gift of inviting us to live with Him forever.
Would you pray with me…
We gather on this night to adore the child you have sent to this earth. We gather in the presence of our church family with people from near and far. We gather because we acknowledge you have done something very special.
We thank you, O God, for this gift in the manger, born to refugees, born in exceptional circumstances, born for us so that we will see your love in action personally as you pour out your grace and mercy upon us.
We ask you Lord to continue to walk with us through this night and for all our lives as we hear the invitation to be with you.
We ask your blessings upon all of us who are gathered here tonight and also for those we love both near and far.
May we remember the importance of the life of the one who’s birth we celebrate and the baby we have come to adore, and may we know of your love personally in our own lives. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the King of the world, the one who has come to save us, our Lord and Saviour. Amen and amen.