Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas journey


May my words be in the Name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit – Amen.

During the season of Advent we have been on a journey … a spiritual journey … one where we make our way in our hearts and minds to a little town … a town located in a time and place very different from our own … a time of kings like Herod who had the power of life and death over his people … a time when the Roman Empire controlled all the known world by the power of it armies … a time when travel was by foot or on the back of an animal or in a boat powered by sails or oars … a time when communications were limited to what one person might tell another face to face … where few could write and a letter had to be hand-carried to its destination and could take months to get there …

a time when diseases we think of today as minor were life-threatening … we have travelled to a dusty almost desert land, where there is little water and eking out a living is hard … where most of the people live in abject poverty … a place conquered by the Roman soldiers not because it has fertile land or is rich in natural resources like timber or gold but because it is on the main land route between Rome and Egypt, the place where most of the Capital’s food comes from …

a place where even though the people are poor, they are proud … because they know themselves to be a people chosen by God … and even though they are oppressed by the most powerful and ruthless military force their world has ever known, they are not without hope … because they know that God will one day send them a Saviour … he will send them his anointed one … the messiah … And as we have journeyed to this place, we have heard strange and wonderful stories … of how an angel visited a couple called Elizabeth and Zechariah, a couple married many years without children, and told them that their prayers would be answered and they would be finally blessed with a child … and that their son would have a special purpose … that he would be the one the prophets had spoken of, the one who would prepare the way for the promised Messiah ...

We also heard how that same angel visited another woman, a girl called Mary and told her that even without a husband she would have a child … a child who would be the Son of God most high … and when the young woman asked how this could be without a husband, she was told that the power of the Holy Spirit would come upon her … and scared though she must have been … and dangerous though it was in those days to have a child with no husband … the young woman agreed … and conceived a child within her …

And so our journey is almost over … for we have come tonight to that town called Bethlehem … we have seen angels appear in the night sky and heard them singing and praising God and telling us that the child has been born and that he is the Saviour and the Messiah … full of wonder we have made our way under the starry sky and through the cold night air to that little stable at the back of an inn … we have pushed our way past the sheep and the cattle and the donkey, so that we may stand shoulder to shoulder with the shepherds … so that we might gaze with them in awe upon a child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger …

And even though in one sense we know exactly who that child is … in another we do not … in our minds tonight he is newly born … we have come to this point of our spiritual journey to meet with that child anew and so we are in a sense meeting him for the very first time … and so we must ask those questions that we always ask when we meet someone for the first time: who are they … what do they do … where do they come from … but the child can not answer for himself … so we must listen to other voices … those who knew him … those who now speak for him … we must listen to what was said by the prophets … by the angels … by his mother … by those came to know him so well … and heard what he had to say … and saw what it was he could do …

And listening to those voices, we hear that the name of this child is Jesus … and that while he was born in Bethlehem in that time long ago … he also is more than that … he is the Son of God … he is the long awaited Saviour … he is the Messiah … that he is in fact the Word of God made flesh … the word of God that before all time created the world … that he is in fact God himself … and because of God's great love for us he has come into the world so that we might have a Saviour … so that light might come into the world and drive out all the darkness that is in it …

The season of Advent has come to an end … and so, of necessity our journey through it must come to an end … but that does not mean that our spiritual journey has come to an end … that is a journey that we must continue all through our lives … in fact, just as we in a sense gaze upon the Christ child for the very first time this night, so too we must begin our journey anew not just this night but every day … but if we begin anew each day by welcoming the Christ child and the light that he brings into our hearts then we begin that journey well …something that I pray for myself, and for you, and all God's children this night and every night … Amen.

Sermon notes: 24 December 2011 (first Mass of Christmas)

No comments:

Post a Comment