Summary: A sermon at Carols by Candlelight. Teaching and evangelistic

Carols by candlelight 16 Dec 2001 pm.

Characters at the crib- were you there?


The last reading (Mt 2:13-18) grounds this all, doesn’t it? Places it firmly in the realm of

- our world. This last year. Troubles still emanating from there & ‘religion’

- reality… not fantasy. This is no fairy tale

I almost don’t want to touch on this bit with Herod. “Spoil the atmosphere/moment”

- but in wanting to look at the characters at the crib

- faced with no choice

- have to, to pass the reality/integrity check

- thought: “This shows the true nature of some things often hidden behind the tinsel in the presentation of our Xmas stories” ie

- why Jesus had to come

- the spiritual battle going on behind the scenes

- the IMPORTANCE of Jesus’ birth… and Him

- the problem in the world

- = us. The condition of the human soul

- ‘the heart of the problem is the problem of the human heart’ (J John)

But there were no kings at the crib. (really! 3 Magi yes. No kings. Herod wasn’t there). No scenes of stately majesty

Maybe Herod might have half wanted to be there “so I may worship Him also”

- but he couldn’t get over some barriers that stopped him

- stopped him - seeing/responding to the significance of Jesus

- coming to the Christ at the crib

- = the fact that it challenged him- his identity, his security, his power

Now- no one here is a Herod the great, but it is true we can know who Jesus is (God in the flesh)… but not really want to come and kneel at the Christ at the crib

- because of how it will impact our identity, security, power, wealth… kingdom even

- because Jesus’ kingdom was not… is not… one of power, prominence, wealth… this world

- but is ‘other-worldly’

But you know in your heart of hearts that He is God. Significant. God with us. Reaching out to us. Sharing Himself with us.

- and you’re not like Herod. You know and believe these things… and are ready to act on them

- there’s lots you/we don’t know…doesn’t always make sense… not clear

- but THIS is. Jesus: yeah!

- To me= the one thing that does make sense

But, like Herod… don’t only think of it in terms of what you are going to lose

- “It is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose

- He doesn’t come as a killjoy to steal… but as the giver of LIFE

- To deal with the problemed heart within each one of us

There is security in finding your identity in Him

Characters at the crib- were you there? Will you come, now? Come to the Christ at the crib.


Others conspicuous by their absence are the Pharisees. Spiritual leaders of the day

- not least because they’ve been looking forward to this for years.

- Searching the scriptures… nailing down the jots and tittles

- But they’re not there. And as J John said- it was only 5 miles


- too busy with their jots and tittles. Religion. With ALL good intent.

- Again: too engrossed in their way… security (found in religion)

But Jesus is not for the religious. He’s for

- the open

- those who want a relationship. Fluid… growing thing

- based on love… not rules

They were good people. Honest. People of integrity. People who were trying (where others couldn’t be bothered)

- religious people usually ARE good people. Serious people

Our world is full of good people, trying.

- consider Islam. I honour their devotion, commitment, seriousness, intent. Desire to please a holy God. Such devotion!

- Don’t anyone ever say they are cowards, shallow, unthinking, unfeeling.

- They are like the Pharisees

But do the Pharisees… the religious… the intent, often… come to the Christ at the crib

- kneel before Him as saviour and God-revealed

- No!

They’d be at church. In the mosque. Pawing over the letters of the law. Trying to please God. Trying to find that kick in what they do

Would they be at the crib? No

- because for religious people… good people

- they either don’t think that they need it… or need to OR

- it’s too simple… easy

- not something rigid & religious enough. It is simply relational

friends: respect religion… and I believe in religious freedom

- but religion is not the solution. Answer. Cure for the problem of the human heart. Religion exacerbates it

God’s gift to humankind… us… offers relationship with him

- and it’s available at the crib

So- who was there?


A scared little girl of ~ 16

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