A Saviour Is Born!
Birth announcements tell us a lot about the parents and about society.
From the birth announcements we can learn what names are popular.
We can also learn about the ideals and expectations of parents
as they welcome new children into their families.
Some announcements could read like this:
Mary and Johnny are thrilled to announce the arrival of Barry, weighing in at 8 lbs 13 oz.....
Special thanks to the doctors and nurses for their outstanding care.
Joan and Bill are thrilled to announce the birth of Brad, who weighs 12 lbs, 14 oz
He is a future linebacker.
Cindy and George are delighted to announce the arrival of Susan,
weighing 5 lbs 1oz, with a very strong voice.
She is a future singer.
Then there is this one:
Mary and Joseph are pleased to announce the arrival of a son, 6 lbs, 5 oz.
An apprentice carpenter for Joseph's shop.
Angels were in attendance, and we give our thanks to the shepherds and three strangers
for their support and special gifts.
"Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given ...
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
the mighty God, the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace."
When we welcome a new-born child into our midst we do so
with a mixture of joy and of hope for the future.
We have great expectations for this new arrival.
What is our response to the birth of Jesus?
It should be a sense of joy and of wonder,
but so often we experience a sense of nostalgia
and a desire for simpler times and maybe a fear of the future.
We want Christmas to remind us of our childhood,
and of the happy memories of old,
even if those "happy times" were during the Great Depression.
And maybe because of that nostalgic desire,
we also often want to leave the baby Jesus in His crib.
A baby Jesus is much easier to deal with than an adult Jesus.
As N.T. Wright in For Al Of God's Worth points out:
``We want Christmas to be "a season of nostalgia,
of carols and candle and firelight and happy children.
But that misses the point completely.
Christmas is not a reminder that the world is really a nice old world.
It reminds us that the world is a really bad world,
where wickedness flourishes unchecked,
where children are murdered,
where war is raging all over our world.
Christmas is God lighting a candle;
and a candle is lit in the darkness,
and its light reveals just how bad things really are."
"The light shines in the darkness," says John,
and the darkness has not overcome it."
When we give birth to a child, it is an act of hope in the future.
Whether we hope for that child to become a linebacker, or a teacher, or a carpenter,
we expect the baby to grow into a loving, productive member of our community.
We can't predict just what the child will be as an adult,
or just what he or she will do for a living.
But we take that new child into our lives with a sense of wonder
at the great potential for that child.
But to leave the child as a child would be a waste of great potential.
And it is so with Jesus.
We welcome the announcement of his birth each Christmas day,
but in so doing, we must also recognize the potential that is born in us.
The birth of Christ that we celebrate is not just the birth of a baby long ago,
nor just a nostalgic celebration, but it is the celebration of the coming of God in the flesh.
We celebrate the Word made flesh, the coming of God amongst us.
This is a celebration of eternal importance.
If we leave the Christ child in the crib,
then we rob the Christmas story of its true meaning.
We come to celebrate not only the birth of Christ,
but we celebrate the birth of Jesus being born in us.
We look forward to the fulfillment of God's purpose in our lives, and in our world.
We have a foretaste of the glory that is ours because of the coming of the Word made flesh.
As we welcome Him into our lives, we will shine with His reflected glory.
Our darkened world needs to see that great Light shining in the darkness.
That candle burns anew in our midst, and invites us to carry His light out into the darkness.
Let us take the light out into our world, so that others may see what we have seen
and hear what we have heard, and have the Lord Jesus Christ born in them.
Sermon By Dr. Harold L. White