Sermon - December 24, 2020 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Gerard van Honthorst_-_Adoration of the Shepherds_(1622)

Sermon – December 24, 2020

Nativity-The Birth of Jesus Christ
Year B
December 24, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Titus: 2:11-14
Gospel: Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)


O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; wherewith you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen

Good News Of Great Joy

Gospel: Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

Joseph and Mary have traveled 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. 

Joseph’s was a descendent from the house of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged.  

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.

For hundreds and hundreds of years, they have been waiting for this very birth.

Isaiah 9:2-7

The people who wailed in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shine. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named…

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I cannot tell you much about this miracle birth of the messiah, that you have not already heard throughout the years, of being told over and over again, how the “Great I AM” Jesus has come to live among us. A divine human and yet a fully human like you and I. 

This is how God intended it to be, a story that gets told for thousands of years, reminding us what a blessed birth it is, no matter… who tells the story about Jesus, God’s greatest gift to us!

I think of him as “divine” at Christmas, but after Christmas, I focus on his teachings, then I start thinking back to Jesus, the human Jesus.  Yes, he is still divine and he is, the one who saved us from our sins.

Yes! This Jesus!

“The Jesus that cried with us, the Jesus that healed the crippled and made the blind see and the deaf to hear.” 

“The Jesus who prayed and taught his disciples… how to pray.”

“The Jesus who said “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life! (John 14:6)” The baby born tonight! A baby wrapped in a white cloth, being held by Mary as Joseph looks over them. 

And so, it is at this time, when I, again see him as divine Emmanuel “God is with us! The manifestation of God himself…as Jesus. 

He wasn’t born in a temple, but in a wooden structure with a grass roof and surrounded by animals. Can you just picture how they must have felt…no place for them in the Inn? Because of the census, the town was full. They had a difficult long journey…tired, I am sure…they both knew the importance of this birth.

Was Joseph nervous? Did he say…but, my wife is having my baby, the Holy and Blessed one?  

Personal Story:

I recalled a story my father would tell us when growing up. We lived on an Indian reservation; all the none Indian’s had to go off the reservation to have their babies. About 20 or 30 miles.  

The owner of one of the trading post, his wife was expecting and they had their bag packed and ready. She woke him up and said, Johnny, it’s time, I am having the baby!  He jumps up, grabs the bag rushes to the car and he was out of town when he realized he forgot Ruth. 😊  

I am sure Joseph and Mary were nervous, but they knew that all had been planned out for them and this was how it was suppose to be told.

The Annunciation to Shepherds and Their Visit.

A star above, oh yes, the shepherds living in the fields…and the angel of the Lord stood before them, and startled them, by saying, “Do not be afraid; for see…I am bringing you good news of great Joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  

The angels, God’s messengers are sent to the shepherds to give them the message, that the newborn Jesus has been born. It tells us that God sent his messengers to those who were the recipients of his promise—not kings, theologians, or even relatives, but those whom a grown-up Jesus would long to gather under his wings: 

Isn’t it fitting that we have not see the Christmas star for 800 years! And this year it was here, just a few nights ago. For all of us to see and know that we are about to witness great joy for all people! It is a message for all of us and yes, we should have goose bumps.

What I can say is… what I feel still today and every year when I hear the Christmas story. 

That God meant it to be this way, that the birth of Jesus Christ was such a…wonderful gift to us. Jesus will always bring good news and great joy to all the people. 

He is and will be the greatest gift to all of us for ever and ever.

As we celebrate Christmas this holiday, lets focus on the future and the gift given to us year after year.

Yes, as we look in the rear-view mirror of 2020, we pray for cures and healing of our nation and world, but we never forget the sacrifice of all the millions who lost their lives to the corona virus and those who still suffer. 

We also see all the good that happen this year and all the people and organizations that step up to help those in need. All the donations of gifts, food and kindness. This is what we are to be thankful for.

May the God of Hope fill you with Joy and Peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of The Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)  

The Reverend Lola Culbreath