Sermon for Christmas Eve (5:30) – A Hope-Filled Birth
A Hope-Filled Birth
Christmas Eve; December 24, 2019 (5:30 service)
The Holiday display at Krohn Conservatory, Eden Park, Cincinnati
Who doesn’t love the story? Ever since Francis of Assisi created the Christmas Crèche so people who didn’t know how to read could learn about the birth of Jesus, manger scenes and stories about the stable have multiplied. I loved going to Krohn Conservatory at Eden Park in Cincinnati, where a stable was erected every year and there were figures of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, and there were real sheep and goats and such. Even those who tend to dislike classical music tend to like traditional Christmas carols, and the most secular TV specials still struggle to ignore the story that’s at the root of it all.
It’s a story of hope. Would we die without hope? Perhaps not, but it would get harder to get out of bed every morning. It’s a struggle anyway, since Isaiah’s vision of the light of God is so at odds with our values as a culture. Isaiah sees the authority and influence of the light growing, and I often don’t see that. Our public values do not look like those of a Wonderful Counselor; commitment to the Prince of Peace is clearly less evident than commitment to the power of me, myself, and I.
Yet of this I am persuaded: Isaiah’s vision of what that child was to be was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. “Wonderful Counselor:” Jesus teaches a way of being that is good for us and is good for our communities. “Mighty God:” The power of God worked through Jesus as he helped the sick, the blind, the lame, and the mute. “Everlasting Father:” Jesus gathers a diverse people, people of every land and language, every race and economic class, to create a new human family. “Prince of Peace:” When Jesus was found to be a threat to his society, he didn’t mobilize his followers to attack; he accepted crucifixion.
You may not know that whole story, and I don’t really expect you to. This is what I want to suggest to you: if it intrigues you, look into it. If the whole baby-in-a-manger and angels-singing-to-shepherds thing makes you wonder about the rest, then learn about Jesus. He’s worth the trouble. His birth is a hope-filled birth, because his life is life-changing for those who follow him. If you find yourself wanting some spirituality in your life, look for it in Jesus; you’ll find it all in him. And if you need help with that, ask us; we can help.
Isaiah said, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” From the manger in Bethlehem shone the light of God in a hope-filled birth. What will we do with the light?
Robert A. Keefer
Presbyterian Church of the Master