Christmas Eve 2017

Sermon Title: CHRISTMAS EVE 2017
Date: 24th December 2017
Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers
Church Calendar Date: Christmas Eve
Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96, Titus: 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-20

I’d like to share three stories with you.

The first story is a familiar and apparently true story of a newborn baby’s homecoming.  When the baby was brought home, the newborn’s four-year old sibling says to her parents, “I want to talk to my new little brother alone.” The four year old went into the baby’s room and closed the door. The parents wondered what was going to be said so they put their ears to the door and heard the little girl saying to her baby brother, “Quick, tell me who made you. Tell me where you came from. I’m beginning to forget!” This is a story of faith in remembering one’s beginning!

The second story is of the “Jesus of history who was a child of a Jewish family living under a foreign regime.  He was born into an extended family living away from home and his family fled from a king who sought to kill him because he posed a political threat…

This is a story that claims God became human in the form of one who is vulnerable, poor and displaced in order to unveil the injustice of tyrannical power.”  Robyn J. Whitaker, Bromby Senior lecturer in Biblical studies, Trinity College.

This is a story of hope for all people.

The third story.  Some of you may recall my telling the story of my young son, Nick when he was just 2 weeks old.  I was working at Holy Trinity Williamstown as Associate Minister and was on maternity leave.  I wanted to attend the midnight service at Christmas and so my dad drove baby Nick and myself to church.  When we arrived, the Priest was there, the choir was there, a group of kids were there dressed up with their tea towels on their heads for the entrance of a ‘nativity’ scene’ to sit on the front steps of the chancel during the first hymn.   The plastic doll that was to represent baby Jesus, someone had forgotten to bring.

So I offered baby Nick (a real baby!) and a young ‘Mary’ carried him       down the aisle as we sang ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.  I was close by and sat with the young Mary and my baby on the steps of the chancel.

This is a story of love in the gift of new life!

There is a common thread to these three stories and that is of faith, hope and love.

The first story is about a deeper knowing that we are from God and very much loved children! Each one of us. The baby ‘knew’ it.

The four year old is like us who are caught in between knowing and forgetting and wanting to know again! In the complexity of life’s journey, we all begin to forget. It grows harder and harder to remember our original identity in God. As Richard Rohr says “Many of us experience a crisis of meaning and hope that keeps us scrambling for external power, perks, and possessions, trying to fill the void.”

It is faith in believing our origins. We just have to stop and listen to the deep inner voice within each of us!

The second story is stripped of the familiar nativity scene with angels, shepherds and sheep and a donkey.

Many people don’t like to know this stark reality and find it a challenge that for example the nativity plays and scenes that we set up in our homes, churches and even in Federation Square, was only introduced in the 12th century by Francis of Assisi to help church goers enter into the story more fully.

And yes it does. In both the beauty of our beloved nativity scenes and in the stark, real story of the birth of Jesus, we are shown throughout the ages, that God gives hope for us vulnerable, human beings on a vulnerable planet earth.

The birth of my son Nick was a joyous occasion and those who knew Jonathan and our three year old Callum were brought to tears as they shared the joy of his birth on that Christmas Eve. Nick is now a young man just turned 24! There is something about hearing and seeing a newborn baby that melts and enlarges our hearts with love!

Faith, hope and love are the foundations of our lives.  Foundations of our Christian faith.

The four year old speaks to her baby brother: the stark reality of the birth of Jesus in treacherous times and my baby son, playing Jesus in a nativity scene.

In so many ways, ordinary events but ones that are signs of light where we can know about Faith, Hope and Love.

It’s Christmas – and One who knows beyond our knowing is closer than we think.

Blessings on you all and your families and friends this Christmas.

The Lord be with you.