St. Matthew’s Sermon 12-25-2016

St. Matthew’s Sermon 12-25-2016

Christmas Day

Luke 2:1-20

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

I’m not sure I could make a choice as to my favorite nativity story, I like them both. But when it comes to reaching deep into my heart, less into my head, no other does a better job than Luke’s account. It’s one that takes hold of my imagination and runs away with it, allowing me to become fully immersed in the story!

First, I see the empire of Rome, a huge section of the known world at the time, with a few, major cities, thousands of little villages, and miles and miles of open space made up of mountains and hills and valleys; a small amount used for farming and the rest, open range for grazing sheep. And temples; there are temples everywhere; one for our God and many for the many other gods of Rome and other nations.

Yet, even with all this territory, and with all these temples, the newly arriving Son of God has to be wedged into the world with minimal accommodations: a stable, some strips of cloth for a blanket, and a manger for a cradle.

Oh and then, the big announcement of the arrival of the Christ! But not proclaimed to Kings and nobles in the town square or to the priests in the temple, but to the most humble of all the earth! Just imagine it! Here are these men, outcasts of society, living in the fields with the animals they’re charged with; very likely in their occupation because they couldn’t fit in with the civilized society of the cities and villages, maybe even forced out by others into the open areas because of it.

They exist in their mundane life, enduring each day that’s just like the day before and each night that’s just like the night before… until this night, when all of a sudden there’s an Angel standing in the light of their camp fire; telling them that the Savior is born… to them… and can be found in a town nearby! And suddenly, again, there are a whole bunch of Angels raising praises to God saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

And, unlike King Herod and the priests in Matthew’s account who stay behind waiting for further word, these outcasts rush into Bethlehem to see for themselves!

There they find him; the Angel wasn’t a dream or a sleep deprivation hallucination, it was real! They now see everything just as they were told it would be! Now they become the heralds; and they raise praises to God most high!

Oh to have been there; to have been one of them!

But, guess what! We can have that experience!

Those shepherds, in all their roughness; in their exile from society, whether forced or self imposed, show us that no matter who (or what) we are, no matter how well or how poorly we fit in to the expected, we too, are as much a part of the story of God’s redeeming grace as any priest, king or noble. And all we have to do is make just enough room in our hearts for Christ to wedge himself into a starting point. And the next thing you know we will be singing “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

We have the opportunity to re-experience the birth of Christ into our lives every day. But within the Christmas season we have the added inspiration to hear the angel make the announcement; to hear the choir sing; and to go and see for ourselves the wonderful sight and to greet, with joy, God among us; God with us! And, we have the opportunity to make known what has been told to us about this child; so that all who hear it will also be amazed.

Go now, go joyfully about the work God calls us to!





Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

    8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

    15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.