Summary: This sermon focuses on four characters in the Christmas narrative and what their "voice" says to us. It uses the acrostic H-O-P-E to illustrate that in the end all the "voices" proclaim HOPE to a lost and dying world!
Four Voices of Christmas – Voices of Hope
Sermon – December 25th 2005
In Fridays Boston Herald I read a story about a school in the eastern part of the state where the children were informed, at the ire of many parents, that they could not sing songs with and religious references in them.
They also could not wear elf hats with red in them – they had to be white. Christmas trees had to be referred to as magical trees when one parent walked into their child’s class while they were singing, instead of “we wish you a merry Christmas” they were singing “we wish you a swinging holiday”.
The world is doing all it can to sanitize and sterilize the Christmas season to the point where there will be no vestige of Christianity left in what is a decidedly Christian holiday. In every sense of the phrase, they want to remove the ‘Christ’ from ‘Christmas’.
In doing so many miss the fact that Jesus Christ is the hope of Christmas – without Christ there simply is no Christmas. The message of Christmas is hope…hope for a world in darkness.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord’s servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
H. The Voice of Heaven –
31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.
Here is the angel Gabriel in the main station of angels – a messenger of God. Here he visits Mary with a most amazing message. This is it – the Hope of the world is first announced through the voice of Heaven.
Gabriel tells Mary that she is to name the child Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua which means the Lord saves.