Christmas Day – December 25, 2016
Scripture reading I: Luke 1:68-79
We have just heard the song of Zechariah, praising God who has raised up a Saviour, fulfilling a promise made to their ancestors, all the way back to Abraham that is now being fulfilled to them.
Through Zechariah and Elizabeth, their son John will be called the prophet of the Most High, the one who will prepare the way, proclaiming the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. God is shining a new light, one that breaks open the way of peace.
What does this mean to you and me, dear friends? More than a wish or an expression of hope, the language of blessing is grounded in certainty. When God blesses humans, God is making a promise, a statement of assurance that what God has said, God will do.
When humans bless God, as Zechariah does here, according to the Gospel of Luke, they are also making a statement, but theirs is one of confidence, conviction, and even recognition that God acts or is about to act. Zechariah doesn’t just hope that God will bring about the salvation of God’s people, he knows that it’s upon them even though both John and Jesus are still infants.
Dear friends, we too can know, that as we gather here as people of Dayspring or as people visiting Dayspring, that God has wonderful blessings in stall for us, whether we are confident about them or not.
God’s blessing also applies to us as children of God, and there is a certainty and a sure confidence and conviction that God’s blessing will become true for you and me and for us as a faith community. Let’s rather live on the side of grace, than on the side of doubt. Zechariah knows that his newborn son will soon play a role in bringing God’s blessing into the world: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people …”
And Zechariah blesses the Lord, the God of Israel in his old age, because he knows that: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Perhaps you and I are bothered by all the uncertainties surrounding us. Zechariah’s prophesy here points out how the birth of his and Elizabeth’s son, John the Baptist, is the start of great things happening, in spite of so much that our dark doubts are trying to tell us.
Scripture reading II: Luke 2:4-14
After a long, hard week at work, Antonio was looking forward to reading a good book and watching a couple of football games. Antonio’s son and daughter had different plans. Early on Saturday morning they rushed into their parent’s bedroom and pleaded with Antonio to take them to the park. It wasn’t a convenient time as Antonio did have his plans, but Antonio acquiesced to their request.
Once at the park, the trio had a great time; one of those special times between parents and children.
It was not convenient for Joseph to travel to Bethlehem with Mary. Mary was due to give birth any day and it was not an easy journey. Joseph and Mary made the trip, though, and wonderful things happened—a saviour was born. How wonderful is that…!
Now what is the good news of Christmas? Is it that people should wish each other a “Merry Christmas!” rather than a “Happy Holidays?” Perhaps it is the fact that many stores are now open for twenty-four hours to help those who wait for the last minute to purchase their Christmas gifts. Is the good news that people are welcomed to worship with us as long as they meet our expectations and are acceptable? Some people regrettably think so.
This is not the good news that the angel proclaimed on that first Christmas morning. Because of God’s steadfast love, God sent a saviour as the angel announced.
The child would live (and die) to rescue us from lives that are self-centred and separated from God, others, creation and even ourselves. The child would free us from lives that were empty, meaningless and purposeless. This child, who was wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger, would save us so that we could live new lives that were filled with love, abundance and freedom. This night God has given the world a saviour who is Christ the Lord.
Scripture reading III: John 1:1-14
Much can be said and will be said about this profound first chapter from the Gospel according to John. I prefer to quote a poem that was written by Jenneth Graser, titled “Merry Christmas All Year Long”
Once all has gone quiet with the
turning off of lights,
the city shines through windows
with embers of festivity.
Some are wishing each other
a Merry All Kinds of Everything,
yet we see the burning of the Son.
He rose through the space of a womb,
grew in dark womanly holding
with a leap of recognition from his cousin, John,
as yet unborn.
Onto the dirt of terra firma
the Creator of the universe, a baby,
made all kinds of everything – holy.
Jesus in our city,
reaching through the lights,
turning hearts to hope wherever
hope is hard to come by.
Jesus to be found
in the least likely of places,
on the fringe and edges
of backstreet graffiti parties
and walking with the shoppers
where mall lights shimmer memory
of a star that guides all humankind
to a Merry Christmas
all year long.
Copyright 2016 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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