12/24/2014 Christmas Eve The text for this sermon is Luke 2:1-20.
Grace and peace to you from God, our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
A child is born. A first born child, a son is brought into the world. With the excitement and fear that comes with first-time parenthood, a baby’s room is prepared. There’s a shower or two so that others can share in your joy and provide some of those needed items…diapers, footed sleepers, blankets and binkies, an assortment of toys and furniture suited for an infant. Unless there has been an ultrasound, revealing the gender, yellows and greens rather than pinks and blues, are the colors of choice. For you feel compelled to stay neutral as you guess boy, girl, girl, boy – not knowing which it will be, but excited about either one. After all, this is the first child. You will become mom and dad for the first time. And the child that is coming is flesh from your flesh and bone from your bone.
On that day, that eventful day when the baby is born, the excitement and anticipation reach new heights. For the woman, there’s the hope that the pain will end quickly. You just want it over. But for the man, it’s different. You’re going to be a father. Perhaps there’s a combination of anticipation, pride, concern and fear, a combination of emotions that you never felt before and may never feel again. If you have the stomach for it, you watch and wait beside the soon-to-be mother, encouraging her breathing and getting into the rhythm of her pushing.
First the head appears and then, in what seems like a lifetime for the woman and a flash for the man, the child is born. A son is born and he cries his first infant cries. As you touch him for the first time, you are overcome with relief and joy. For a son, your son, has come into the world. For a child, your child, your precious baby, is alive and well. And his mother made it through the birthing process tired but rather unscathed.
So, you get on the cell phone and announce what has happened to your world. You call people in priority – grandparents first, then friends and other family members. You may even leave some of the calling to the first people you contact. For, a son is born – your son, your baby, your child – and you want to shout it from the mountaintops as your world is turned upside down with joy.
And so it was that first Christmas Eve. How much the same and yet how different it was for Mary and Joseph. There was no baby room prepared for Jesus. There had been no baby showers. There were no diapers, footed sleepers, blankets and binkies, an assortment of toys and furniture suited for an infant. Instead, their preparation involved traveling by foot and donkey to a little town called Bethlehem.
An elementary teacher one day began to share with her class how Mary and Joseph had gone to Bethlehem to pay taxes. It was time for the baby Jesus to be born and they needed somewhere to spend the night. She told her students that when Mary and Joseph went to the inn, there were no empty rooms. She compared the inn to a modern-day hotel or motel. She was leading up to the stable when she asked, “What do you suppose they had behind the inn?”
One little guy, who had been listening intently, began to frantically wave his hand. “A swimming pool,” he responded.
Well, no, there was no swimming pool at that particular motel. But, in back, there was a lowly stable – a shed, perhaps, or even a cave, where cattle and sheep were kept – an unsanitary place at best and certainly no place for the King of Kings to be born. But there was no room in the inn. (adapted from sermon titled “An Announcement from a Stable” from Sermons.com)
And so it was that first Christmas. A son was born and he cried his first infant cries in a stable, among the animals and in the presence of Mary and Joseph. And the word of the birth had to go out – for this child was like no other. This son was like no other son – for the child who was born who had no earthly home to call his own was and is the Son of God.
As any proud parent, God wanted the world to know, and so the word went out, an announcement was given – “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And a host of angels joined in the chorus, singing praises to God, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
This was an announcement given with great joy for a son had been born. It was an announcement given to those who needed good news. For, who is in more need of a Savior than one who does not know God? Who is in more need of a Savior than those who are not perfect, who make mistakes, who sin against God and neighbor in thought, word and deed, by what is done and what is left undone? Who is more in need of Jesus than people eking out a living, struggling with the challenges everyday life, people like you and me. So the announcement was given to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night. It was not given to kings and queens, or even to the family and friends of Mary and Joseph. The announcement was given to people living in darkness, people who needed the good news of the birth of a savior, people who were still enough to listen to God. On them the light shined.
May the light of Christ shine on you this night. For, Jesus, a precious baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and gently laid in a manger was born for you this night. Jesus is our hope and our salvation. He is the cause of this season and the reason for our celebration, both now and forever. Amen. And may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.