Christmas Day Sermon
Christmas Day 2019 – CW 10.00 am
Happy birthday Jesus! I am certain that if there was a midwife present in Bethlehem, she would not have said “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” but rather “It’s a god!”
Now who got some very good presents? Put your hand up if you received socks? A splendid new set of pearls? A drill? New undies?
Is this the time where clergy are supposed to moan about the secularisation of Christmas and remind us all that we are in danger of forgetting the true meaning of it all? To rebuke the constant encouragements to spend big and spend so much family time together and love one another and not have any worries or cares in the world. There you go, finished that moan already. I trust that many presents have been unwrapped and they have bought much excitement, or some thoughts about how they can be returned for a refund, or put away of eventually given to someone else. Check the boxes for signs of how often they may have been passed around before.
I am more concerned today as to the invitation that Jesus’ birth brings.
Jesus had to be born in a very humble place, not as the offspring of a great king in a palace. This was a deliberate birthplace, or he would likely have been dismissed as just another poor little rich kid who rejected his parents and upbringing and had delusions of saving the world.
Jesus had a clear mission on earth to show the people of the time how lost they were in their ways. The world was a broken place and needed some clear re-alignment. Rather than the hypocrisy of following temple laws and traditions and only following good behaviour out of obligation and being able to buy oneself out of trouble, there was a simple message that needed to be given by God, and he really needed us to relate to it. And his message is not a point in time, but continues clearly in the world today.
After Jesus’s birth an angel invited shepherds and those wise men from the east to go and have a look and confirm what happened. A star marked the spot. The angel said they would recognize this Saviour / Messiah / King in an unusual way. He would be lying in a feed trough. To me it is significant that God didn’t command them to travel into Bethlehem and that they must have a look. He simply delivered the good news. They heard God’s invitation, and by their own choice they accepted his invitation and travelled into the town to find the baby. I wonder what happened after they told Mary and Joseph the story of the angels. The Bible doesn’t say, but I am sure Mary did what many new mothers say when people come and coo over the new baby, “Would you like to hold Him?” Certainly, each of those present and who arrived soon afterwards where changed for having entered into the presence of Jesus. We all know the innocence of a baby – how small and fragile they are, and how needy they are. They cannot survive by themselves at all. If those amongst us have cradled babies, and I am sure during those times you had thoughts about what the person will become when they grow up. I wonder what Mary and Joseph would have thought when they cradled Jesus and tried to provide for him. They were told what he would become, but may have had a lot of difficulty visualising it, but they loved him.
Just as Mary invited the shepherds to hold baby Jesus, I know God is inviting you today to receive him into your heart. Like the shepherds, you have heard the good news, and now God simply invites you to come to Jesus and enter his presence and receive His forgiveness. It’s time for you to RSVP. Have you ever received an invitation to attend a special occasion and seen RSVP on the card? It means repondez s’il vous plait, French for “Please respond.” It means a reply is expected, and to ignore the invitation is rude.
God has addressed a special invitation to you; it has your name on it. He invites you to come into his presence and receive the free gift of eternal life by knowing Jesus. He has added RSVP to your invitation. Have you been rude and ignored God by not responding?
God has delivered a good news invitation to us all today. He says, “Come to Me all you who weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Your name is embossed on the invitation to his party. He says, “I love you, and I want you to live with me forever.” He has added “RSVP” to the invitation. Are you not sure if you want to go, as you are not sure who Jesus is and what he did and teaches? Are you sceptical? Do you think we have all the answers in our society as we are so clever now and don’t need to go and it’s just another event? Well the only way to find out about what is going on is to go the “party” and have a look. Stay a while and mingle with the other guests. See what is going on and ask questions of the other guests. Ask them why they turned up. Go to the host and find out why he is having the party. It promises to be the best party ever. Now, what is your response?
Have a happy and blessed Christmas.