Christmas 2018 Isaiah 62 6-12, Psalm 97, Luke2: 8-20
+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen.
Isaiah’s passion for his people’s future and his desire to see the work of salvation completed caused him to pray without resting. He continually hoped that Israel would be saved along with the whole world. This is our hope when we pray daily in the Lord’s Prayer, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Isaiah sees in his prophesy, the time when the people of Jerusalem will be known as “The Holy People” and “the Redeemed of the Lord” because something special will be happening there.
Psalm 97 speaks of God as an awesome conqueror, righteous and just, hidden from human sight because of his unapproachable holiness. Humans are unable to find him on their own, and it is God who approaches and reaches out to us.
People search for meaning in their lives and give their highest loyalty to all kinds of things, which become idols. There are many who decide to ignore God and pursue goals they believe are more important. All of us live with the consequences of the choices we make.
When we search, we find God and his love revealed through nature and the words of the Bible. When we acknowledge God in our lives, we develop a sincere desire to please God and also find that we love what God loves.
Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus, known as the only begotten Son of God, coming into the world as an infant, but he grew and did not remain a baby. We know very little of his childhood, but have much to know of his life, death, resurrection and return to heaven and his abiding and unconditional love. We believe he was the Incarnate Word; given to the world in love, God as a human being who showed us how to love and how to live in love. If we align our lives with the life of Christ and let his Spirit guide us we will grow in our capacity to love and live a compassionate and fulfilled life of inexplicable joy.
In the account of Jesus’ birth by Luke we find God revealing his Son, not to those we might expect. Jesus’ birth was announced to shepherds in the fields with the angel inviting the shepherds to greet this special child. God’s Messenger did not search out an important person to give the news to, but those who were near, a group of shepherds.
Even in that time the Roman bureaucracy maintained the loyalty of its subjects through fear of penalties, and we are told that, at the appearance of the angel, the shepherds were terrified. The Glory of the Lord was shining all around them: how else could they have felt, but to be afraid? Suddenly the shepherds see heaven as part of their world. It is part of our world, it is God’s world. We don’t often see it perhaps because we are not looking, or our selfishness and greed blinds us to the reality. The angel tells them “Do not be afraid” The good news of the birth of the Saviour is to be shared by the whole world, and then the shepherds get a glimpse of the heavenly places where it really is party time with the whole heavenly host singing and praising God and rejoicing in the good fortune of us lowly human beings.
We are told that place is important and we live our lives attaching importance to time and place, but here we find the Supreme being, God in our flesh, being found in an insignificant and small place called Bethlehem. We cannot imagine a greater contrast between a Ruler in Rome, an Emperor’s palace and the centre of the known world and a humble family of a God trusting couple, a newborn baby and some scared shepherds. God can remove any sense of privilege that people might attribute to themselves because they happen to occupy a certain position or a certain place at a certain time. Anyone, anywhere can welcome Christ into their lives at any time, and can become his messenger of love because the place is the heart of every human being who lives their life aligned with Christ’s life.
The prophecy and fervent prayer of Isaiah is answered by the Word of God, the word that is God, who has come into his own world and declared that the Kingdom of God is near. God’s purpose is to show us that there really is only one world, one place in which we are to become the children of God.
Then we are able to see the glory of God in Jesus Christ who is with us, and has always been with us and with God in the world even before creation.
God revealed himself to us in our image and likeness to show us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. With this privileged position in mind can we resolve to strive for peace, live lives of righteousness and justice, rejoice in the Lord and give thanks to his Holy Name?
Can we attune our hearts to the never ending love of God, and to teach and show that love to our families, friends, neighbours and our enemies and those we do not like, but learn to love nevertheless? Can we remember we are dearly loved children of God, and live with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience?
Because we have been forgiven, can we forgive one another and live in love and peace? Then God’s Kingdom will be near, and His will shall be done on earth, as in heaven. Amen