Sermon for Christmas Day 2006

Text: Luke 2:10
To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Christ, the Lord".


‘To you is born a Saviour’

As we think back over the past year there are some things that stand out as times that were exciting, filled with goodness and love. I know as a family we have seen the arrival and baptism of a new granddaughter, the wedding of our daughter and the gathering of all our family from far and wide.

But there are other things that make us shake our heads and wonder. We heard in the news of the loss of young lives in a car smash, a baby in a stroller rolling down an embankment into a river and drowning, the ongoing suffering in Iraq, and the drought that has affected every single person in our country, especially those on the land.

Add to that your own personal ups and downs – relationships falling apart, a scary diagnosis, the death of someone close, plans that will never eventuate in the near future. This is the backdrop to our celebration of Christmas.

Christmas is a feel-good time, the time of joy and laughter, singing and gift giving. But none of this changes the pain that we and the rest of the world are facing. Even as we celebrate Christmas today people are dying of hunger, in gunfire, others are looking on helplessly as a child dies, others grieve the loss of a family member through lack of medical help or the basics like clean water and good food, still others don’t know how they will survive another season without rain for their farms.

It was into this kind of world that Jesus was born. People were poor, oppressed and killed by the Romans; many children died before their first birthday; children were killed by the soldiers of their own king – King Herod. I wonder if Mary and Joseph ever wondered why God would send a child – such a special child - into a place like Israel – a place where there was so much oppression, violence, death and poverty.

If they ever did ask that question their wondering would have stopped when the shepherds told them what the angel had told them that night out in the fields. This angel delivered a message straight from God himself, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord".

I want to focus on three words from the angel’s message – you, born and Saviour.

Firstly the word ‘you’. Here is God saying that he is giving you and me something (or rather someone) special. God is coming down to earth to live amongst all the oppression, violence, death and poverty.

Now this is so ungodlike. A God is supposed be different, set apart, separate, far removed from the grime and dirt of sin.

When God say "you" in the announcement of the angel he indicating that what has happened in the birth of Jesus is something that is intimate, personal, direct. This baby born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago is
for you, you shepherds,
for you, people of Bethlehem,
for you, King Herod,
for you, astronomers from the East,
for you, Mary and Joseph,
for you, world,
for you here this morning and for me.

In Jesus God is reaching out and touching us and saying:
‘I know your life, I know how it can be, the things you love and that make you happy, and the things you struggle with and how hard it is – I know all about you. I’m not going to sit up here in my heaven and remain unconnected from you – this is for you.’

If you today are absolutely convinced about God,
if you are not too sure about all this God stuff and are here because it is expected that you come today,
if you haven’t been here in church for a long time –
God says: to you is born this day, a Saviour, Christ the Lord.

It’s as if God is pointing his finger directly at you. There is no doubt to whom he is speaking when he says, to you and you and you and you is born this day, a Saviour.

Now the word ‘born’.

God is born. God being carried in Mary’s womb for nine months. God going through the process of child-birth just like every one of us here did one way or another. This is just is too much to comprehend.
God - a baby - born bawling, red, wrinkly, covered in gunk.

If I was writing a story about how God came to live amongst us, I would have made his coming a lot more spectacular. I would have written a story about God's coming that would have left no one in doubt that God had left heaven and was walking on this earth. There would be no stables or donkeys or mangers in my story. My Christmas story would have been bigger than Ben Hur.

But born out the back,
no room in the inn,
unnoticed by most people,
laid in an animal feeding trough – that is extra-ordinary.
This just goes to show how much God wants to get close to us. So close he becomes one of us. He loves us to such a degree he is prepared to go to extreme lengths – not only being born in a stable but also dying as a shameful criminal on a cross.

He is born into a family,
a mother who held him to her breast, loved him and cared for his every need like any mother does;
a father who gives a godly model for his son to follow.
Like any boy Jesus grows up, learns, watches his father in the workshop, listens to his mother tell stories about his ancestor King David and experiences new things – God doesn’t need any of that. It’s not for his sake that he is born, but for ours.

God, who is without beginning, takes on a beginning.
God, who is all complete, goes through the stages of growing up, learns from his teachers.
God, who is eternal and cannot die, becomes human and is subject to death.
For you he is born.

The third word I want to talk about is ‘Saviour’.

In Australia saviours are at work on our beaches. I’m referring to life-savers who rescue those in danger of drowning. Sometimes a lifesaver has to resuscitate a person pulled from the water. They breathe life back into the dead (or almost dead) person.

To you is born this day, a Saviour. This child whom the angels announce is the one who will save you from the guilt that weighs you down and stops you from getting on with life.
He saves you from that nagging feeling that somehow you have to measure up, but knowing that there is no way you can meet God's standards.
He saves you from a meaningless existence if all there is to life is being born, growing, learning, working, working, working, getting, achieving, having, dying, full stop!
He is your Saviour who has come to give life, life in all its fullness, and also eternal, ongoing life, life with God as life is meant to be.

To you is born a Saviour who says, ‘Your sins are forgiven’.
To you is born a Saviour who says, ‘Be healed’.
To you is born a Saviour who says to the storms we face, ‘Be still!’
To you is born a Saviour who allows his hands to be nailed to a cross to rescue us from our sin.
To you is born a Saviour who conquered the great last enemy of everyone of us, death itself. He gives us life – that is the greatest miracle of all.

Sometimes we look at our world, our lives and wonder what is going on, why is life so confusing, so demanding, so difficult.
When we look at the baby in the manger we wonder why God would go to such extreme lengths for you and me.

There is only one answer – God's love.
Jesus is God connecting with you, wanting to give your life purpose, wanting to help you when it seems life is tearing you apart.
Can you do without this gift from God?
Can you ignore this message from God himself?

"To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Christ, the Lord".

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
25th December, 2006

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