Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Double vision

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Luke 2:1-14 double vision

 

Have you ever gone to a 3D movie?  You know the ones, where you have to
wear those silly looking glasses with one red coloured lens and the other blue?  Before the movie starts, no one wants to look silly, so the special glasses are not put on!  As you begin to watch the 3D movie without the glasses, everything seems to be doubled up, nothing seems to be connected, one picture seems to overlap the other; yet they are the same picture.  You can watch the movie, but it is very difficult to really see what is actually going on.  It is only when you put on the special glasses, do you see clearly and enjoy the 3D special effects.  With the glasses on, the doubled pictures become one and then you become part of the movie, those with out the glasses remain watching in double vision and have no concept of what is going on.

St Luke deliberately opens the miracle of the first Christmas Day, when God the creator of the universe enters into his creation as a baby, with a very grandiose earthly introduction ‘In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to his own town to register.’  An earthly king, who’s reign is short and who’s life as a man is but a shadow, as Job says ‘He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow,’ gains great notoriety and power with his announcement and  plans to unite Rome and conquer the world, as reflected in Luke’s account.

Jesus, on the other hand, the creative word of God, who is born Christ the Lord, king of heaven, who has dominion over rulers and principalities, who entered into the world of this earthly king; into the earthly affairs and organization structures of the Roman Empire, gains little notoriety, Luke writes ‘and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.’  Two kings, two kingdoms, two rulers, both with their purpose to conquer and rule, both with plans to unite and call home their subjects.  One is known everywhere on earth, the other, Jesus, is known only by a few.

Like when we go to the 3D movies without the special glasses on and we only see double, it appears to be a confusing doubling up; two kings, two plans, two kingdoms, yet two completely different purposes; one earthly, one heavenly; one seen one unseen.  Caesar’s rule has its purpose and fulfillment in this life.  Jesus’ rule has its purpose and fulfillment in the life to come at the end of time.  There seems to be no connection what so ever between the two. Caesar’s rule, or for that matter, any earthly ruler, seems more important to us.  Jesus rule here on earth has little or no significance for our life now, his birth as a heavenly king only finds its purpose for our life after we die.  Double vision!

We often suffer this double vision, this disconnectedness between our life now and the relevance of Jesus’ birth for us today, because of sin.  Our sinful nature blinds us to the reality, to the hope and to the joy that Jesus birth in Bethlehem was to redeem all people from the bondage to sin.   The devil blinds us to the good news that Jesus does rule in our life now.  Double vision stops us from seeing that Jesus’ birth as Lord and saviour means he rules now and in eternity; we are blind and cannot see the hope Jesus can bring in our life now, as Jesus said ‘For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

The one special Christmas word, the gospel word that enables us to see again and to connect the importance of Jesus birth to our life now, the one word we need to hear to correct our double vision, is this…‘today’.  The gospel word ‘today’!  ‘Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’  The word ‘today’, that the angel spoke as part of the announcement, meant that right at that very moment, Jesus was already ‘Christ the Lord’.

‘Today’, the angel announced, while nothing had changed and the shepherds watched their sheep, baby Jesus was already the good shepherd, Christ the Lord, who shepherds people from their sins.  Today, while Caesar was busy counting his people, Jesus was NOT counting sins against humanity, as Paul writes in 2 Cor ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.’  As the angel spoke those words, ‘today’ right at that very moment salvation dawned upon all people and it will continue to dawn on every man, woman and child until Jesus’ return.

Jesus emphasized the fact that his kingly rule justified sinners ‘today’, that is, immediately, in the lives of those still living, by using the same gospel word ‘today’, as the angel did on that first Christmas night.  To Zacchaeus the tax collector, Jesus said ‘Today salvation has come to this house.’  To the man still hanging on the cross, who could do nothing but die, Jesus said ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’

The gospel word ‘today’ brings the first Christmas, the birth of Jesus as Christ the Lord into our lives.  The word ‘today’ brings salvation to our house; it is ‘today’ that we will surely be with Jesus in paradise.  Jesus’ word is living and active…it says what it does and does what it says.  That is why there is no dualism in life, no double vision, no separating Jesus from our everyday life.  Because of the gospel word of Jesus ‘today’, our whole life is one with Christ who paid the ransom for sin and redeemed us to himself on the cross.

Today, as you hear and believe Jesus’ word ‘whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned,’ you are the recipient and the joyful hearer of the of the angel’s Christmas message ‘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 Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’

The epiphany of grace

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Titus 2:1, 11-15  The epiphany of grace

 

I have a wonderful Christmas gift here.  Its just the perfect present for you,
everything you dream a present would be or imagine a present to be.  (hold out the ‘unseen present’)  This is the ‘unseen gift’ because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by giving you something they don’t want.  I am relying on your good will that the intention is good…I mean well!

The down side for you is that you will never see any evidence that I mean well.  You will never actually receive anything that is tangible, useful or even of benefit from this ‘unseen present’; a present that supposedly expresses my love.  In the end you will never be certain that I have actually given you anything.

The grace of God, the love of God…God is faithful, we even sing ‘God is an awesome God’, how often have we heard these phrases?   Yet in a way, these words and phrases lack substance and bring us little assurance.  After all, can we describe or experience the ‘grace of God?’  I mean, what is really meant by the grace of God and how can we be certain we have it?  Just talking about and knowing about ‘the grace of God’ means very little and gives us nothing, which means this ‘unseen gift’ is not a gift at all; a ‘gift’ implies there is actually something given that will benefit the receiver…The grace of God implies he has something to give us that will benefit us.

Tonight we celebrate the grace of God.  Tonight we celebrate with the words of St Paul in Titus ‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.’  God did not remain hidden nor did he give us an ‘unseen gift’ of grace.  The grace of God has appeared to all people.  The grace of God has appeared in the human baby Jesus; born in a real stable, in a real manger and born to a real mum, Mary.  He is both truly God and truly human.  At Christmas we celebrate the epiphany, the revealing of God’s grace to us, the ‘seen gift of God’s grace’, the baby Jesus who will save us from our sins, as St John also declares ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’

The grace of God is real and tangible in the Christ Child Jesus.  The grace of God, Jesus, who saves you and me, saves all people from their sin, is not an idea, a philosophy, a hope or wish, like an ‘unseen gift’, here tonight we celebrate the tangible; the historical fact and the reality that God has actually given us a gift of grace in his Son Jesus that will benefit all people, as we sing in, Hark! The herald angels sing ‘mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.’

Like with a real gift given to us that needs to be unwrapped once receive, Jesus’ birth was just the beginning of God’s epiphany of grace.  The depth of his love for us, the awesomeness of his grace was fully revealed on the cross, when Jesus was crucified for our sin.  On that real wooden cross, with real wounds, and real blood, God’s epiphany of real grace paid the dept of our real sin, as Paul writes in Romans He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.’

The epiphany of God’s grace for all people began in the manger.  The awesomeness of God’s love was unwrapped on the cross.  The fullness of God’s grace has been completed in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and his ascension into heaven.   At Christmas we celebrate the epiphany of God’s grace to all people.  Every Sunday we celebrate the distribution or the giving out of God’s grace in Holy Communion.  Every Sunday God continues to reveal his grace to us, through his word and sacrament.  It is in the church that his gift of forgiveness is given and received.  The church and its liturgy are now the new manger of Jesus.  The church is the stable where we, who are made wise unto salvation, come and worship the king.

May this Christmas give you joy, hope, peace and the certainty that in Jesus, the grace of God is revealed.

Amen

A Son is given to us.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009


Christmas Eve 2008 Isaiah 9:2-7 A Son is given to us

 

Do any of you young people know what this is? (a yoke that goes around a horses neck-explain what it does and how it works).

 

A yoke is a symbol or reminder of suffering and burden.   It cannot be removed by the one waring it and must be carried around all the time.

 

You and I have a yoke around our necks and we were born with it on.  (place the yoke upon my shoulders to symbolise death around us all) The difference between this sort of yoke, and the yoke around our shoulders, is that we cannot see ours.  Our yoke is the burden of death.  As sad and as difficult as it is to talk about on Christmas Eve, one day we will all die; it is the yoke around our necks that burdens us.  I the book of James it says ‘sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.’  Death is the invisible yoke around all of us.  Like a horse wearing this yoke and pulling a burden, it seems to us that there is no way out of our situation.

 

Left on our own, we cannot change what has happened or what will happen.  We live with this darkness overhanging us.  However, God in his great compassion and mercy, couldn’t just look on and leave us suffering under this burden.  He refused to see his people, you and me, die a death that would mean total separation from him.   In his great love for us he chose to change our situation.  Like a farmer taking this yoke off his horse, God sent his Son Jesus to remove our yoke.

 

The prophet Isaiah foresaw this saying ‘The people walking in darkness,(that foretells of all people, not just Israel), have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.  You [the Lord] have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.’  The yoke, the bar across our shoulders, the rod which pierces our hearts…death, has been shattered; totally smashed to pieces because of the birth Jesus, which we celebrate tonight.

 

Isaiah continues his excited vision saying ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’  The Child of God, Jesus, is a child who is not born for God, but to us; the Son of God is given to us.  And his birth, if you listen carefully, will remove the yoke around our shoulders.  The government will be on HIS shoulders.  That is, Jesus was born to us in Bethlehem to take the yoke, the rod we bare upon our shoulders, death, and to place it on his shoulders. 

 

(Take the yoke of my shoulders and place it on the manger and say ‘From the words of Isaiah ‘he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.’)   The wood of the manger, points forward to the wood of the cross, where Jesus, the Son of God, took the punishment for our sin, and died in our place at Golgotha.  This is the great light of Christmas; this is the light that shines in our darkness.

Jesus, the little baby in a manger, is the greatest gift we will ever receive.  So receive him into your heart through faith, let him be born into your heart this Christmas and be filled with the great joy.  For Jesus truly is reason for the season.

The Greatest Present ever Unwrapped.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
 

 

Luke 2:8-20 The greatest present ever unwrapped

 

 

I have some ribbon here.  Who had a Christmas present wrapped in ribbon?  The ribbon wraps up and protects the surprise hidden within.  When we see a ribbon wrapping a box, we know that the box is something special.  Its actually more than a box, its a gift; something special that we are going to receive for free from someone who loves us.  The ribbon, all beautifully coloured, excites our imagination and heightens our sense of expectancy:  What is under the wrapping?  Will it be something I really want or need? Will this present change my life? 

 

Once the ribbon is undone, the present unwrapped, we begin to see and appreciate the gift.  Once the ribbon is removed, the gift can then be used.  Today is Christmas Day and today is the day many people all around the world unwrap the ribbons from around their presents to see and begin to use their new gifts. 

 

Today is the day we as Christians are reminded of God’s gift to us; a gift also wrapped in ribbon as the angels proclaimed ‘”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. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  God’s gift to us was wrapped in ribbon cloths and lying in a manger.

 

The ribbon cloths wrapped around the baby Jesus, in a hidden way, presented him to us as a present from God; a present to be unwrapped, a free gift of love from God to us.  The ribbon cloths, in God’s own special way, made Jesus more than just a baby, more than just a man.  They were a sign to us that this baby is Jesus the Christ; the chosen one from God, as the angel said ‘he is Christ the Lord and this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths’. 

 

Like all presents, in order to be seen and enjoyed, Jesus couldn’t stay wrapped in the safety of his cloths, he needed to be freed to grow, live and work in the world.  Jesus needed to reveal himself to us as God’s Son and to show us what it meant for him to be the Christ…the one who would save people from their sins.  And he did just that, as Luke reports ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.  From the moment the ribbons of cloth were removed, the gift of Jesus was unleashed onto the world and the world was never the same.

 

And it was during these years of Jesus ministry that he showed us just how much of a special gift he was to us.  During his time among the people of Israel, he demonstrated God’s love through his actions and words. 

 

Jesus was a present to the blind by giving them sight.  He was a present to the crippled by enabling them to walk.   He was a present to the lost and outcast by giving them hope.  He was a present to the grieving by weeping with them, a present to the joyful by bringing the dead to life.  And he was a present to those who were hated by saying ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.”

 

Yet this was not the ultimate purpose of Jesus ministry.  These gifts were only part of the bigger present of Jesus.  God sent his only Son to be a gift for all of humanity, for you and me as well, as the angel’s announced ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all people on whom his favour rests.’  In order to bring true peace to all people, the ribbon cloths wrapping Jesus as a baby needed to wrap his body one more time.  For God’s present to us to be total and complete, the ribbon cloths were used a second and final time. 

 

Just as Jesus’ tiny body as a baby was wrapped in ribbon cloths and placed in a manger, Luke records what happened to Jesus crucified body; bruised, beaten and bloodied for our salvation ‘They took Jesus body down [from the cross], wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock.  And there he lay.  God’s present to us, the gift of Jesus; still and lifeless, wrapped in ribbon cloth.  That is, until God himself unwraps Jesus, throws the ribbons of cloth away, and raises him to life.  Our best ever present has now been completely unwrapped and the Christmas angel’s announcement to us has now been fulfilled. 

 

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.’  Through Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection, he has given to all who believe the gift of eternal life.  This is what makes Jesus is the best present ever, and this is what makes him our saviour, and this is why he IS Christ the Lord.

 

Amen   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st Sunday after Christmas Hebrews 2: 10-18

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

 

 

Who is your favourite pioneer, or explorer?  Why?
We admire pioneers because they put their own lives at risk in order to break new frontiers for the rest of us.  One such person is Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb to the top of Mt Everest.  (slide 1) He was able to achieve what many people have failed to do.  What was so pioneering is that he was able to blaze a path for others to follow.  (slide 2) He and his team went ahead of everyone to come and put safety pins and clamps into the rocks and across the crevasses, ropes and ladders, so that future expeditions could happen.

The pioneers went ahead and prepared the way for others.  They faced the uncertainty, fear and the unknown, to find the best path up to the summit.  (slide 3&4).  Now others follow in their path, relying on their anchor points, their route, and their safety advice.  From these photos we can see others climbing to the summit.

It is not the same to send a robot up a mountain or to the moon or wherever, only when one of us, a human being, breaks the new ground, reaches the goal, the summit, can we be certain the feat can be done; only then do we know that we too can reach the same summit.

Did you know that there is an even greater summit that has been reached by a pioneer; a far greater feat has been achieved by another human being; a human, just like us, who has gone before us and has prepared a way for us to the greatest of summits.

(slide 5)  Jesus Christ, true God, yet true human being, like us in every way, but without sin, has reached the summit of heaven.  Jesus, like Edmund Hillary on Mt Everest, has gone before us and blazed a path into heaven itself; he is the first pioneer of salvation, to make a way into the presence of God.  And in true pioneering spirit, he has made the path open for all to enter heaven through his achievements.  Sound unbelievable?  Listen to this from Hebrews ‘In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.’

Did you hear that ‘In bringing many sons to glory’, that’s humanity, that’s you and I, we are being brought into glory; being brought into heaven itself …by the pioneer of our salvation, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the pioneer of the human race, the first of the new Adam, the new man, to enter glory.  And he is the one who brings the rest of his brothers and sisters, those who are baptised and believe, into glory with him.

What a feat, no wonder the writer calls Jesus a pioneer!  We know that one of us is already in heaven; one who blazed the way for us, making the path open so that we may join him.  What comfort it is for us to know that it can be done, the summit can be reached and that heaven is meant for humanity, for you and I to be with God; and we can be assured of this for the scriptures say ‘since the pioneer who saves and those he brings into glory are of the same origin. Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.’  We are in the same family as the one who saves; Jesus Christ.  We will share in his victory.

This pioneering act, which opened the way to heaven, had its beginnings at the first Christmas (slide 6).  Here in a manger, wrapped in cloths is the pioneer of our salvation.  This unassuming baby is the Son of God, born to Mary and a son to Joseph, truly human in every way, yet God, and begins his trek to the summit of heaven by sharing in our humanity; being one of us so that he may lead all of humanity into glory.  This is the mystery and miracle of Jesus the Christmas child; that he is God in human nature; not two separate parts, not human now God later, no, both truly human and truly God; in Jesus God became one of us, a human.

Being totally human, Jesus experienced every emotion, suffered pain, had joys and sorrows, wept and laughed.  God made himself so vulnerable in Jesus, that his parents had to flee Bethlehem because he would have been killed by Herod.  Yes, if Jesus was not really human, and could not be killed, there would have been no need for him to be hidden in exile.  And if he were not human he would not have suffered temptation, but he did.  St Mark begins Jesus earthly ministry with the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and closes it with Jesus’ temptation to reject the cross and the will of his Father in the garden of Gethsemane.

And since Jesus has suffered every temptation, in our darkest hours of trial, when we struggle with temptation, in Jesus we have someone who knows temptation and has over come it, and can help us.  Like Edmund Hillary, who forged a path up the mountain and over come the trials, and who put in place safety lines and anchor points for those to follow.  Jesus has led the way leaving us anchor points to place our hope during these trials.  One such anchor point is our baptism.  It is the sure hope that when we fall into temptation, as a climber may fall down a mountain, we can cling to it, hold on tight and say as Luther did ‘in spite of everything, I’ve been baptised!  I have the promise that I will be happy forever and I have eternal life for my body and soul’.

Yes, these anchor points Jesus put in place are there to be used, not to be admired and looked at.  Who would climb Mt Everest and say, I’m not using the safety points, I’m going it alone’.  That climber would be a fool and soon fall to their death.  We are in the same predicament.  We cannot reach the summit of heaven on our own, using our own safety nets, we will soon fall and die.  We need to rely on Jesus, the pioneer who went ahead of us, and use the anchor points; baptism, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus name.  All of these are the power of God to save, to be used to defeat the devil, sin and temptation which pull us off the mountain.

Sir Hillary had travelled 13 days, and 17 miles up the mountain range to reach the final camp site, just a few hundred meters from the summit.  Yet the last few metres were to be the hardest trial, taking 7hrs until finally on May the 29th at 11:30am he reached the summit; the first person had reached the top of the world.  The hardest trials and suffering were at the end, but once over come, led to total victory.

Before Jesus reached the summit of heaven, to bring many of us to glory, he had to first suffer.  And the hardest trial and suffering came at the end.  (slide 7)  The writer to the Hebrews says ‘it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death– that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.’

The pioneer of our salvation exchanged glory for human nature, then in suffering, exchanged the wood of the manger for the wood of the cross.  This picture reveals the true story behind the birth of Jesus; to bring his children through death to life.  And because we now know it has been done, death no longer has power over us; Jesus has released us from fear.  This is why we sing these words from the carol ‘Once in a royal David’s city: ‘And our eyes at last shall see him, through his own redeeming love, for that child so dear and gentle, is our Lord in heaven above; and he leads his children on , to the place where he has gone’.  The true Christmas joy in the birth of Jesus is found only in his whole life; his birth, his death, resurrection and ascension, for through his life, he has opened for us the way to heaven.  Yes, Jesus is the pioneer of our salvation.

Amen

Christmas Day 2007 – Luke 2:8-20

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

We live in a world where the remarkable has become the norm.  What was unreal is now real; what we seen as impossible is now possible.

Who would have thought you could cook food until it is boiling hot without some sort of heating element and then be able to touch the bowl or plate the food is cooked in.  The microwave is indeed remarkable.

Who would have thought we could store whole libraries with thousands of books into a space the size of a match box.  Impossible, yet it is being done.

Who would have thought we could walk around in the outback while talking to friends on the other side of the world; seems unreal, yet it is real because of the mobile phone.

The remarkable has become the norm and nothing seems to really amaze us anymore.  Perhaps if we were the shepherds in the fields today, and suddenly a great company of angels came praising God in the heavens, we might say ‘O yeah, saw something like that on the Matrix movie’ and go on looking after the sheep…from home using webcam that is!

The miraculous, the awesome, the incredible wonder of Christmas is often lost in our own self importance.  With the advances in technology, the baby Jesus is a little old hat; a little mundane.  That is of course, until we realize we are not the centre of creation, we are not as big, or as important as we think we are.  Take a look at a clip from a DVD called ‘indescribable’

When we put ourselves, our efforts and our ego into perspective; into proportion the works and wonders of God, then we begin to see the real miracle of Christmas.  It is when we realize how big God is and how small we are, do we begin to see the wonder of Christmas and join with the psalmist ‘When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?’  This is the miracle of Christmas, that God should love us some much that he would send his own Son into the world as our saviour; that Jesus would leave his home and come to us.

This fact is not lost on heaven’s angels, even they are astounded at this wonder and come together to sing God’s praises ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests;’  so excited where they, that the heavenly hosts leave their home and joined Jesus on earth and sang his praises there.  On Christmas day the impossible became the possible; that all of Heaven would fill the earth; that God would come and live among us, born as a baby and lying in a manger.

The shepherds never lost sight of this, the lowly and least in society are first to hear and are astounded at the angel’s announcement that God would come into the world.  So much so, that they too, together with the angels, leave their homes and join Jesus to sing his praises.  The unreal becomes the real; That God and man are once again together.  This happening is so amazing to the shepherds that they stay only a short time.  They are eager to go and tell others about this miracle.

And today?  Are there still people like the shepherds staying only a while in church with Jesus, to then leave in a hurry and in joy to tell others about the miracle?  Are you amazed that God, the creator of the heavens and earth, whose hands formed the dry land, would do such a thing as leave his home and enter ours; to become one of us, to save us from our sins?  Yes, I know you are.

Even today, some 2000 years later, we have not lost sight of this wonder.  In fact, the more we discover about the world and the enormity of the universe, the more we admire the complexities of creation and how sin is destroying everything, including us, the more we realize that God has done far more that any microwave, any computer or any mobile phone could ever do; sure they may have changed the world; God changed eternity.

On that first Christmas Jesus was born, and on that day the remarkable be came the norm.  From that day on, we as sinners have God living among us.  Through Jesus he is righting the wrongs, reclaiming his own and bringing from the dead those who were once lost forever.  Today is indeed a day to join Mary and ponder all these things in our heart; ponder how remarkable, how unreal and how impossible God is to make this happen.
Amen

Christmas Eve 2007 – Luke 2: 1-14

Monday, December 24th, 2007

‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’

What a difference a day makes.  How often do you say that or have others say it to you?  What a difference a day makes.  One day you are 15 years of age and are not permitted to drive, then the next day you turn 16, and you are allowed to drive.  What a difference a day makes.  One day you are slaving away at work, the next you are taking it easy on the weekend.   What a difference a day makes.

In one day, one moment, one time in history, God bursts into the world to make a difference.  In one day He made a difference to the life of Mary and Joseph.  One day they are a couple, the next, they are parents.  In one day He made a difference in the lives of the shepherds.  One day they are tending their flocks at night, the next they are standing in the presence of Christ the Lord.

In one day the magnificent songs of praise and adoration to God are only sung in heaven, the next the whole earth is filled with the sound of angels singing ‘glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among the people of his favour’.  What a difference a day makes.  What a difference the Christ child makes.

In one day God made a difference to the world.  One day the world was without a saviour, living in hope for the day to arrive, when God would come and redeem his people.  The next, in the town of Bethlehem, in a manger, Christ the saviour of the world is born.  What a difference a day makes; what a difference the Christ child makes.

That’s why the angel said ‘I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.  For today, yes today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; He is the Christ.’  Today is the day of God’s favour, today is the day the Lord has made.  Forget about yesterday, forget about what it was like before the Christ, forget about the searching and emptiness of yesterday.  Today has arrived, today Jesus the Christ child is here.  Here to make a difference.  There is now hope, there is now a saviour who has come into the world to restore the relationship between God and the world.  What a difference a day makes.

What difference will today make for you?  What difference will a day make in your life?  Today, as we join with the shepherds and angels in glorifying and praising God, for the Christ child, what difference will it make in your life?  What difference will Jesus make in your life?  The angels rejoiced, the shepherds praised, and Mary treasured him in her heart.  What will you do?

Can we leave from here today as if it was yesterday?  Can we go home without rejoicing like the angels, without praising like the shepherds?  Can we leave here today without pondering in our heart what today will bring?  What blessing we receive in the birth of Jesus, what the gift of salvation means for us?

Today, let us leave here in joy, knowing we have seen the Christ.  Knowing that Jesus has made a difference.  Sure, our daily routines of work and family and the struggles we face may not be different, even the shepherds had to go back to the fields.

But let us leave here today with different lives.  Lives that reflect the special hope we have.

And what might our lives touched by the presence of Jesus look like?  I don’t know whether I can tell you, perhaps you have to experience it for yourself.  After all, since Christ Jesus is real, so too will be the differences in your life.  Since the Christ child is born for you, only you can truly know what he can do for you.  Only St Paul, truly knew what Jesus meant to him to be willing to be persecuted for the sake of the gospel; only Zacheus truly knew what a difference Jesus made to be able to give half his money to the poor and mend his ways.

There is no text book changes to people’s lives.  Only when you live today, leaving yesterday behind, and live in the presence of Christ, will you truly know and experience what a difference Jesus can make in your life.   Yesterday is gone, today is different; we have seen Christ the Lord.  Amen