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Lectionary 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction: “Labor”

It’s called labor for a reason. Traditionally the travails of labor have been so stressful that men turn the job over to the women folk.
Meanwhile contractions begin, sometimes with pre-eclampsia, or “false labor.” Then the real thing hits when the water breaks.
Time to go!
And so the home stretch begins. The straining, the perspiring, the ice chips, the dilation, the crowning, and the baby emerges, the mother rejoices, together the pair rest exhausted, but inevitably there is a sense of joy. A baby is born, the miracle of life!
And so the story goes. The husband may be there. May have fainted. May have to be called in to see mother and baby. And the father, bless his heart, is amazed to see what’s been hiding behind that great camels hump these past nine months.
A baby! His! Amazing! This will take some getting used to, never mind that his wife has “been getting used to this” for at least the last almost-a-year!
And this time of year we celebrate a special baby. A miracle of another sort, of Emanuel, God-with-us, in the Son of God and Son of Mary in human form.
“Inconceivable!” they cried. Yet the child was conceived, of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary.
If not inconceivable, certainly miraculous, supernatural, wondrously divine. The little baby Jesus, God come to earth and taking on human form to be with us, like us, and ultimately to save us.
No wonder we marvel at birth. For ultimately the reality of the little baby Jesus entering the world is an affirmation of the essential goodness of life, an anticipation of the future of life, and an answer to the deepest questions of life--all rolled up into that one little bundle of glorious joy!
Affirmation, anticipation, and answer. Let’s begin with
of the goodness of life, an anticipation of the potential of life, and


For most people, marriage, family, happiness and the goodness of God all things we experienced growing up and things we almost take for granted as part and parcel of a meaningful life. It’s as though we’re hard-wired to be drawn to each other, to join in love and fellowship, and create a family with whom we share that joy.
Just as God throughout history created us, called His people, and spoke of Israel as His bride.
But just as in our lives we experience personal and family failure, disjointed dysfunction, heartbreak and heart ache, so too did God’s people. From the very beginning we read of disobedience in the Garden, murder with Cain slaying Able, all the Seven Deadly sins in the 12 tribes of Israel, through the idolatry in Moses day, the grumbling in the wilderness, the repeated sin-punishment-repentance cycle emblematic in David, called by God a “man after my own heart.”
So in this broken and fallen word, where in Mary and Joseph’s time wicked and evil Herod was out to kill any who might take his throne, we experience what?---Not faithlessness and failure, and but promise, fulfillment and angelic joy in the birth of the baby Jesus!
That is to say, it’s the AFFIRMATION That God is Good, that He has a plan for a future and a hope for his people and it begins with the coming of Jesus, on a bright and beautiful “Bethlehem Morning.”
Just listen to the Angelic celebration recorded in Luke:
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
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