Summary: 2005 Christmas Day Sermon
As I reflected on the theme on this morning’s bulletin cover, I decided to re-listen to the audiotapes of both Jonathon and Daniel’s births. As I did so, I heard voices of joy, of business, of pain, and of life.
Both boys happened to be born in the same birth room, a little more than two years apart. Though they were born in the same room, to the same parents, that is where all similarities end!
One took his time coming into this world and the other one did not. One was born in the late afternoon and the other at 1 minute until midnight.
Both responded to the new world in the same manner – screaming loudly and doing other things. But, right away you could see that they were two different people.
Mary had the same experience that all mothers have had except that the baby she gave birth to was the Son of God, the Savior of the World! And I don’t think that it was all ‘meek and mild’ as we read in the hymns!
I like how JB Phillips who wrote what became a popular paraphrase of the New Testament, (now known as The Phillips Translation), translated John 1:1: “At the beginning, God expressed himself.” In a commentary on today’s passage, Arden Mead shares the ‘translation’ of a Bible student, “From the beginning, God has something to say.”
I prefer to say this Christmas Day, ‘God makes a statement!’ with the birth of the Christ child; with the Word made Flesh. Furthermore, He makes a statement about faith, hope, and love because this day is a day about faith and the object of our faith. It is also a day about hope and the object of our hope. Finally, this day is a day about love and Who loves us! (Overhead 1)
The Magi brought three gifts, ‘gold, frankincense, and myrrh’ or, as we heard a few weeks ago, ‘gold, common sense, and fur,’ to the Christ child sometime after His birth. I suggest this morning that love is like gold because love is golden and God’s great love expressed for us at the manager. I also suggest this morning that frankincense is about hope because it is a gift for deity and we have a God who has given us hope through salvation made possible by the baby who is fully God and fully human. Finally, I suggest that myrrh is about faith because it is a burial spice and it is in the death and resurrection of Christ that we can have faith and trust in God and the hope of eternal life.
God made a great and wonderful statement on this day because through Jesus Christ, we have faith, hope, and love. It is no coincidence that Paul said at the end of I Corinthians 13, ‘There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.’ It is rooted in the act of the ‘word became flesh,’ and what we now call John 3:16 and 17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.’
God made a statement about faith because faith is an essential part of our human existence. We have been designed and created to believe in something. Worship and faith go hand in hand. We gather here Sunday after Sunday to worship a God we believe in.
We cannot live without faith. We have to believe in something or someone. The Bible points out the value of faith in Hebrews 11 ‘What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see…it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
I am reminded of the power of faith from an insightful quote in the movie Santa Clause 2. It is one that I have shared before but it is worth repeating, ‘Believing is seeing!’
Here Hollywood agrees with the Bible for once! For as we read in Hebrews 11, ‘[faith] is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.’ What or who do you believe in this Christmas morning? Let each one of us open this wonderful gift of faith; not in some unclear and fuzzy deity, but in a God who took human form – Jesus Christ. For the gift of faith is essential in a world of multiple choices that offers us the world, but not a life as God has created us to live.