Luke 2 
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Christmas Day 2016 Rev Simon McLeay

Date: 25 December 2016

Good News, good news – The Angel Gabriel broughta message ofbrilliant news to us all.  A baby has been born, not just any baby, the baby!  The baby of Hope.  The long awaited baby.  The Chosen One.  The Messiah.  The one who prophets foretold long ago.  The birthday we remember today changed the world.  This day is more famous than any King or Caesar, Celebrity or Queen’s birthday.  Any way let me retell you the message, in just a few words, words that carry far more weigh than we recognize.  These words were once delivered to Shepherds in Bethlehem’s fields, but they are also words that echo down the centuries to us.

Don’t be afraid, Fear Not, or in other words,don’t be anxious. The Angel said.  But what if the Angel wasn’t just talking about being afraidof a heavenly being?  What if the Angel was referring to all our Anxiety all our fear, all the emotions that can drive us into a frenzy?  And what drives us into a frenzy of worry?   We worry when we are unsure of the end, we strive to control when we are unsure of the end, our fear and anxiety red-line when we are unsure of the end.  What if the angel’s message was it will be alright in the end.  A birth has occurred that guarantees the end from the beginning.  Fear Not, don’t be anxious, for God’s love is here.  God has given us his ultimate anxiety quenching answer.  What if the angel announced a cure to our anxiety?

I bring you good news.  Whatif the Good News wasn’t just click bait, wasn’t just a tasty morsel of Gossip – what if the good news was more than talk.  What if the messenger was the message?  What if the good news was a person? A baby born in Bethlehem who was the ultimate communication.  We think we’re clever with text messaging, satelitephones and video conferencing; but God knows that a really special message needs to go old school, not just a hand written letter, not even an angel in the night, God’s deepest communication is deeply personal.  On Christmas day God sent a personal messenger who was himself the message, as Marshall McLuhansaid the medium is the message, and there is no more personal medium than human flesh and blood.  What if the good news was more than talk?

 

I bring you goodnews ofgreat joy.  What if this good news wasn’t just intended for a day?  What if this good news was intended to have a visceral effect on our mood for the rest of our lives?  What if this news has a mood altering element?  What if it is better than Prozac, Valium or Crystal meth?  What if this event has the power to restart frozen hearts.  This news contains great Joy, this news creates great Joy, this news is a living meme that is intended to plant in our consciousness a new way of seeing reality.  A view mediated by joy.  Joy is the emotion of first love – not just to give love, but to know it is returned.  Joy is the inexpressible tidal wave that comes over a parent when they first see their new born child, joy is the beat of an old man’s heart who sees a new generation rising even as he is failing.  What if the good news was intended to help you experience life differently? What if life is not the pursuit of happiness, but is about being surprised by joy. 

 

Good news of great Joy for all the people.  What if all the people, really meant all the people?  Not just the good people, not just conservative evangelicals, not just progressive liberals, not just Christian, Hindu or Muslim, not just white middle class, or brown middle class, not just smart people, not just working people, not just straight people, not just inclusive people, not just people from the middle kingdom or people from middle earth; what if the good news of great joy was really intended for poor and rich, black and white, oriental and occidental, men and women, young and old, slaves and pimps, doctors and lepers, all the people.  What if the categories of self-righteousness that we tend to erect; the categories that make us feel better than someone else, the ways we elevate our selves don’t mean diddly squat to God.  What if Jesus really came for everybody  Wouldn’t that be really good news?  What if all the people really mean “All” the people. 

 

Born in David’s town, that’s Bethlehem in the west bank now.  What ifthis location is meant to tell us more than latitude and longitude?  What is this baby had a little bit of King David in Him?  The heart of a Lion, the compassion of a lover, what if this baby truly was a leader of fighters, the sort of person who knew how to draw loyalty out of his crew, the sort of leader who would lay down his life for you and you would lay down your life for him.  What if hearts were brave again, and the golden age had arrived, and Christmas day is the day of days?  What if this baby would grow into a man who you could follow with your last breath of your devotion, who could make your life worth living.  What if this baby had the best of humanity flowing through his veins. What if David’s town was more than a map reference?    

 

A saviour has been born, What if a saviour means a Hero who will fight for you, who will lead you, who will rescue you from your sins and your dungeons.  What if the saviour can truly rescue us from our demons?  Whatif the baby born that day, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger would become the greatest hero of all time.  A hero who would inspire not only soldiers, but in whose name hospitals would be founded; in whose name education would sweep like a wild fire across the world, in whose name slaves would be set free and men and women who discover equality in his eyes.  What if the saviour could save our culture as well as our souls?

 

Christ.  Whatif Jesus was more than a hero, what if he was truly an anointed leader, Good King Jesus?  A leader who could judge between people – dividing between bone and marrow, what if he was a leader who could walk on water.  Christ, Messiah, anointed they all mean great King a leader who worthy of following.  They mean worthy, worthy, worthy – not defiled, not with a secret agenda, not with a hidden motive-  a leader on a white horse with a clean heart and an unblemished record.  A leader even Julian Assaugecould not bring down.  Good news – not in newspaper – not in a tale – but good news in the flesh.  A messenger who is the message and that message is life.  What is Christ isn’t a convenient replacement for a surname, but instead a title of hope.

Whois Christ the Lord.  Lord was a word that could get you into trouble in the ancient world, because king Caesar liked to be called Lord, in fact he liked to be called king of Kings and Lord of Lords.  But you know I don’t think that’s what the angel was referring to.  In the Hebrew bible there are 4 letters that comprise the name Yahweh, the name revealed to Moses.  The name that means Am I all being, I am the one who was and is and is to come.  I am existence itself.  And to this very day Jewish believers are so respectful of that name that that they do not pronounce it, but instead substitute the word Lord.  What if the angel meant that at the end of centuries of expectation, of human longing for a saviour, longing for a Christ the son of David.  What if God had gone one better and rather than sending his best ; he sent his son.  For the angel proclaimed that in Jesus born in Bethlehem God himself was present. 

 

And what if you could grasp even the tiniest portion of understanding of what all this means to you and all life on earth.  If you can do that then I don’t need to wish you merry Christmas for you will see just how much you are loved and you will have truly heard glad tiding of great Joy. 

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