From the Pulpit: Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, 2017

Silent Night LIVE

The Christmas Story for Children

Christmas Day Homily

 

Christmas 2017                                            December 25, 2017

Introduction

There certainly wasn’t much glamour at that first Christmas.

  • You can only imagine what it must’ve been like.
  • Joseph and Mary had traveled a long way from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
  • It was an imperial decree that each person must travel and be counted as a member of the empire.
  • Neither of them were very old. Perhaps Mary was 14 or 15 and Joseph maybe 19 or 20 years old.
  • Obviously, they were poor people who had very little.
  • She was pregnant and with child.
  • After having made a long journey and arriving at Bethlehem, they found that there was no place for them.
  • As day turned into tonight, there must’ve been a sense of panic for both Joseph and Mary. They realized she was about to give birth. 

Christmas story

Here it is, God is about to enter into human history. It will be the most significant world changing event in the history of the human family.

  • Yes, God is born and dwells among us as it infant child.
  • He chose Bethlehem, one of the smallest and most insignificant places in the world.
  • He chose to be born in a world of poverty with nothing. There was not even a place to be made for him to enter his world.
  • With the generosity of a nameless innkeeper, Joseph and Mary were provided with a stable or more like a cave.
  • There certainly was nothing spectacular or memorable about that cave.
  • There must’ve been the smell of the animals and the coldness of a chilly night.
  • At his birth, after being wrapped in swaddling clothes, God is placed in a feeding trough.
  • It is the place where animals are fed.
  • However, curiously enough, symbolically, this newborn child has come to be food, the living bread, for the human race.
  • And so, God entered into human history.  The Sky opened up in a moment a profound glory. The song of the angels filled the night sky.

Angels and Shepherds

In that moment all the promises and expectations of the centuries of waiting for the Messiah are realized.

  • Heaven and earth are one.
  • The song of the angels greets the maker of heaven and earth. Shepherds were on the hillside not far from the cave of holy birth.
  • It is to them the angels make the announcement of this holy birth. God is made flesh and wells among us.
  • It is strange that God would choose the shepherds to be the first to hear the announcement of the Good News.
  • We should probably not romanticize the shepherds.
  • They had a reputation as thieves and crooks.
  • For sure, they were very poor. Polite society would classify them in the same group as tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners.
  • If you think about it, it is certainly consistent with the way God would choose to do things.
  • The story of this night will be told over and over again to countless generations throughout the centuries.
  • It has inspired the imagination of artists and musicians.

God’s Love for humanity

Why would God do such a thing? Why would God leave the glory and majesty of eternity to enter into the human condition?

  • The human condition is marked by suffering, pain, jealousy and greed.
  • The answer can be summed up in one word. It is the word “love.”
  • God loves the human race with a love that is total, unimaginable, and unconditional.
  • In the love of God’s imagination, he called us into being and formed us in his own image and likeness.
  • The energy of his love continues to sustain every single one of us.
  • The story of that first Christmas is the story of God’s relentless love.
  • His love for every one of us is individual and personal.
  • His love is total.
  • In other words, his love is unconditional, undeserved, and relentless. The one word that explains God‘s love for us is the word “favor.”

God’s favor

God has favored us with his love and with human existence.

  • We do not deserve God‘s favor but he gives it to us out of the immensity of his own love.
  • God is never obliged to give us anything.
  • We don’t deserve anything from God. Everything is a total gift from him.
  • In a sense, God has looked with favor upon the human race.
  • That is the only reason that can explain why God would choose to come among us.

Hope

Because of God‘s love and favor there is always room for hope.

  • God never gives up on the human family.
  • Yes, at the time of Jesus there was brutal oppression, violence and intimidation.
  • The Roman government ruled with an Iron hand and suppressed all forms of opposition.
  • This is the world into which Jesus was born. He came to bring peace and a sense of hope in the face of such adversity.
  • The conditions of our world haven’t changed all that much.
  • War looms always as a possibility between nations.
  • On a daily basis nations have to deal with the threat of terrorism. Poverty, hunger, and disease still plague our world.
  • It is Christmas 2017 and once again Jesus brings hope to a world lost in apathy and meaninglessness.
  • God never gives up on the human race.  

Application

Christmas time is it time for gift giving. God is the reason behind all of the gift-giving because He chose to give the precious gift of his son.

  • It was the first Christmas gift ever given.
  • Jesus has come among us as the image of the Father.
  • He is a gift freely given which gives life to the world.

As you sit here this evening/morning ask God for a gift.

  • Ask God to give you whatever it is that he knows that you need.
  • Perhaps you need a new start in life or perhaps you need the gift of hope.
  • Maybe you need a sense of purpose or meaning.
  • As you look into your heart, you know your life could really be much better and that you really could be the best version of yourself that God created you to be.
  • God wants this for you. Just ask him.

Maybe you have been away from God for a while and haven’t really lived the gift of your faith.

  • Ask Jesus to help you come back.
  • Tell him you want more for your life and that you are open to whatever he wants to bring you this Christmas eve/Christmas Day.
  • Where there is faith, there is always hope.  

Conclusion

Christmas is the time for hope.

  • It’s never too late to make a new beginning.
  • Hope in God‘s promises and eternal life is what brings us together this night/morning to celebrate the nativity of the Lord.
  • Christmas is the story of God’s relentless love.
  • Remember God came down from heaven and was born in Bethlehem for you.
  • Let the joy of the angels proclaimed on that first Christmas permeate and transform your life.
  • Remember, with God all things are possible.

 

Have a blessed Christmas!