Faithlife Sermons

The Glory Days of Christmas quickly pass

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Lord, may our hearts be open to hear your voice and obedient to follow where you may lead us, in our hearts, words and actions - in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - Amen

We are only on the second day of the 12 days of Christmas, yet our reading from the Gospel has              - the song of the angels is stilled

            - the star in the sky is gone

            - the shepherds are back with their flock

            - the wise-men returned homeward

                        …and as you will see - the work of Christmas has just begun


                                    the "glory days" of gold and frankincense and myrrh did not last for long

There is a warm glow of the nativity scene that many cherish in our hearts each year, this glow touches us often for only a very brief moment

For many, Christmas is a busy time of running around visiting and traveling or hosting guests in our home

                        And then there is Boxing Day…

This year with Boxing day, today, landing on a Sunday, the warm glow of Christmas might be extended if only briefly this morning

Some might view the commercialization and materialism of Boxing Day as an intrusion on the sacredness of the Christmas season …. and it is

                        …But maybe appropriately


our reading today starts out with “when they had gone´ (meaning the wise-men) Joseph; Jesus’     Earthly Adopted Father was woken in a Dream and given a vision with a message to flee –

That Herod will be after his miracle child

                                    Joseph woke Mary and they fled in the night

                                                …The glow of nativity scene shattered

                                                            The intrusion of the world around them breaks into the story

                                                                   As it also quickly intrudes our Christmas season each year


            Why would an all-powerful God that came to Virgin Mary - betrothed to Joseph, a righteous man

Why would God, which provided for so many details of prophecy to be fulfilled:

like the messiah born to the family of David and in the city of David, Bethlehem, moved there by the greed of Emperor Augustus.

                                    Why would God allow this to happen - to his one and only Son…

                                                            …this fragile baby


Because God is the true parent - the truest form of a complete parent

            And God’s ways are not are worldly ways

Our ways would have had Jesus be born to a rich family, better still a rich, royal ruling family, with good looks and athelitic ability - with servants available for His every need, and scholars for teachers

                                    Yet, God calls us to a higher standard of trust

God shows us a better way than making his Son’s existence merely a smooth uneventful story

God truly shows us that He is - Emmanuel - God with us

This a distinctive of Christianity - over all the other faith traditions of the world

We have Jesus the Christ - the incarnate one - God in flesh

Our story of the greatest joy, in which we celebrate as Christ Mass, includes the deepest of tragedies?

            We live in a world, yes where there is the incredible power and glory and majesty of God’s          creation all around - but we also have evil

Where a man of power in an attempt to eliminate any challengers to his power would cast a wide net and order the death of all the children under the age of 2

(statistical analysis done by some scholars suggest that given the population of the area at the time and the birth and infant mortality rates of the period, the slaughter was probably less than twenty children

                                                Never-the-less a brutal cowardly act

                        We live in a world that has fallen short from God’s vision

For me, part of the answer as to why God would interrupt the glow of the nativity scene lies in knowing that God works in the real world, where tragedy is a constant.

Herod is not unique,

            His jealous and fearful attempts at ridding the world of a up-and-coming leader that might           stand in his way, happen in our own time

Consider Saddam Hussein, where some believe that he arranged the death of his two sons-in-law and possibly his own first son car crash

then there are the 68 reported traitors within the Ba’ath party as Saddam claimed to have found a fifth column, conspirators within the inner core – 22 later executed and the situation help secure his position as president

Like Herod, Saddam’s focus was on power for him alone, and completely disregarded all the lives around him

Herod, like the tragedies in Iraq graphically illustrate an African proverb “that when elephants fight the grass gets trampled.”

            There have always been tyrants and murderers and always will be.

                        God works in that kind of world

                                    in all our failings - God comes to us

                                                comes to us… Vulnerable… as a little baby

                                                            In the need of parents’ protection

            We all have the duty to nurture… protect… ‘and declare to others’ the fragile way that God        offers Himself into the world

                        But more than that… more than being adopted into God’s family

                                    And as our reading from Hebrews puts it:

                                                Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters

                                                            Not ashamed to take on humanly flesh and form

Matthew in his account of the early years of Jesus is trying to tell us many things

            He is writing firstly as a Jew to Jewish Christians

He starts off with a genealogy - emphasizing the fulfillment of Jesus as the coming Messiah and a rightful heir in the line of King David

Then he tells of the miraculous birth arrangements of Jesus and how this will fulfill the scriptures “Behold the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

Then the visit of the magi - the wise-men - first to Herod in Jerusalem - then to the city of Bethlehem - to follow the star and visit the one in whom it is written “who will shepherd my people Israel”

Then the flight to Egypt, and fulfilling the word of the Lord spoken by the prophet Hosea “Out of Egypt I called my Son”

Then the explanation of even Herod’s murderous acts as a fulfillment of the prophet Jeremiah where Rachel weeping for her children”

Finally the return to Nazareth to fulfill the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene”

Matthew is leaving nothing to chance

            Matthew is putting layer upon layer of proof that a Jewish audience would understand and           maybe need to hear

More then that …More then mere proof to a Jewish audience, but also to all who follow afterwards are given a message by the example of Joseph that: We are also called to listen to God

        In fact ‘protecting God’ in our hearts and minds is a call to listening and following God’s lead

Joseph was meet three times in the passage for today with a message in his dreams - instructing him to “get up and go - take the child and his mother” – Joseph was called to listen

            And Joseph was obedient to the messages in his dreams

                        The word obedience comes from a Latin word meaning, "to listen."

                                    Listening is more then mere hearing - As any parent can tell you

                                                …Well, at least as I can tell you from my kids…

The model that Joseph provides for us is of one - that is spiritual aware and obedient

Most of us are unlikely to ever have such a dramatic and directive message from God

            But we can ‘take home’ ‘the principal of listening’ to God and being obedient….

                        For most of us: this will come by ‘God’s revelation’ in His holy word - the Bible

                                    And through prayer

                                                We can learn to hear what some call ‘the still small voice’

And finally - above all rejoice… in the greatest gift the world has ever been given

As the warm glow of Christmas… as the glory of Christmas quickly fades and passes away – remember God choose to be in a world where the hard boot of reality is all around

  What sets us apart from all other traditions – is …God incarnate – Emmanuel

Given into this hostile fallen world - as a fragile baby

        Where there is manifest evil and yet… also where there are whose called to listen

   Nurture… parent… and-by-so be adopted - grafted into God’s family

Of which God, Himself was not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters

Alleluia …Thanks be to God …. Amen

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