Summary: This is a sermon for Christmas that is based on Luke 2 and explores the question of whether we still realise we need saving today. Peace with who? Salvation from what?
The message of Christmas
Christmas Day Sermon Wendy Gravolin.
On Monday night I was listening to the news when I heard that all of the hotels in Bethlehem are booked out.
This made me wonder what it would be like if Jesus was born in December 2008 and what it would have been like if a human being had arranged for the birth?
Can you imagine?
Perhaps the nightly news might have sounded something like this:
News broadcast December 25 2008
A child destined to save the world and bring peace was born today to a wealthy heiress and her royal husband in a palace in one of the worlds most stable nations.
A world class birthing facility was purpose built for the occasion and staffed by top obstetricians, midwives and chefs who were flown in from the world’s best hospitals 8 months ago to ensure the safety of the delivery.
Fireworks and the Royal Philharmonic orchestra announced the special occasion to a gathering of the worlds rich and famous, including the Queen of England, the president of America and leaders of other G8 nations.
Photos of the event are expected to sell for trillions of dollars.
High tech security and guards surrounded the palace keeping all the paparazzi and other undesirables away.
Specially trained personal body guards have been appointed to the new prince ensuring that no harm will ever come to him.
Reports have come to hand that at one stage a group of smelly shepherds tried to approach the palace but were arrested and are now being questioned by the palace staff to see what terrorist cell is behind them.
At this point no group has claimed responsibility.
Stay with us we have reporters on the ground and we will be bringing you further updates on this situation as news comes to hand.
But that’s not at all what it was really like, even though God could have arranged it that way he didn’t.
The son of God the one destined by God to bring salvation and peace was born to a virgin in a stable, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Mary had no cradle so she put him in an animals feed trough.
Angels announced his birth to shepherds; some of the poorest most despised members of society and invited them to the after party.
The shepherds must be the most unlikely recipients of a heavenly message and invitation imaginable. Shepherds were so despised in first century Israel that their testimony was unacceptable in their legal system.
The story of the first Christmas recorded for us in Luke’s gospel is a story with so many fascinating twists.
And can you imagine what it would have been like to be one of these shepherds?
Now shepherds aren’t the fainthearted kind, they regularly slept out in the cold and dark and even fought off predators including wolves and lions sometimes with very few weapons.
So there they are one dark night sitting watching their sheep, keeping them safe from nocturnal predators.
When suddenly an extra terrestrial being appears lighting up the sky in front of them and these big brave shepherds were terrified!
I’m pretty positive I would have been terrified too!
Have you ever wondered why the angels were singing to shepherds out in the fields rather than serenading the son of God over the top of the stable?
I have; but thinking about it I realised that these angels came to the shepherds with an important message which the couple in the stable already knew.
And if you follow Luke’s gospel right through you will find he has a fascination with showing how that message was good news for the poor and outcast members of society; as God chooses to work through those the world despises.
So what was the message the angels came to bring?
It was a joyous message of hope this child would bring salvation and peace.
After assuring the shepherds that there was no need to be afraid the angels tell them about a baby who was destined to bring salvation and peace.
So what kind of salvation and what kind of peace are the angels announcing?
At this time in history I think the world might be prepared to realise that we need saving economically, we even are admitting that we need saving environmentally.
Additionally with the ongoing war on terrorism many would even be prepared to admit that we need peace to be well established politically instead of militarily.
Many could be said to be looking for a messianic type saviour and pinning all of their hopes for salvation and peace on Barak Obama, America’s president elect.
But Obama has human limitations not like the one in the manger who was both fully human and fully God.