Christmas Day, St Mary the Virgin, Fordingbridge, 2017.

A ‘Thought for the Day’ by Craig Philbrick, Ordinand.

Good morning.  My name is Craig and I’m a 2nd year trainee vicar at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

Now.  Has anyone opened a present this morning?

I haven’t but I’m hoping you can help me unwrap my presents.

(Unwrap present 1)

That’s just what I was hoping for.  I really wanted a box of chocolates and I was really hoping someone would get it for me.

In our readings today both Hebrews and John announce good news of great joy that will be for all people.

I also think that they are telling us three things about this new-born baby.

  1. Firstly, in a similar way that I had been longing for some chocolate, they had been hoping for a saviour.

Do you know that when the angel told the shepherds that this new baby was the Christ, the messiah – this was what everyone had been hoping for?

For God’s people they had been waiting for a time when God would send his special king, his messiah who would come and bring God’s true kingdom.

When the angels said: he is the messiah – all the years of longing and waiting were centred on that baby.

Isn’t it great when on Christmas day we open that present that is exactly what we’ve been waiting and hoping for.  Jesus is just like that.

  1. Secondly, the angels told the shepherds that the baby was more than they were expecting.

Now let’s open up my second present.

(Unwrap present 2)

It’s a card, it’s just a card but it is from my auntie Monica and I haven’t seen her in ages.

She must know me so well – I love receiving cards with cute bears on them and soppy poems!

But there’s something else in the envelope – a £20 note. I wasn’t expecting that – as I said I haven’t spoken to Auntie Monica for ages.  That’s so much more than I thought I’d get!

When the angels told the shepherds that Jesus was the Lord – the shepherds realised this was much bigger news than they expected.

Whilst everyone was longing for the special king, the messiah, they hadn’t realised he was going to be God’s son.

But by proclaiming him as Lord, the angels proclaimed that Jesus was God, the master of all, Yahweh, the Lord God.

Jesus isn’t just a special king but he’s God.

Isn’t it great when on Christmas day you open a present, it’s a surprise and it’s much more than we thought it might be.  Jesus is just like that.

  1. The third thing the angel told the shepherds was that the baby was just what they needed.

Let’s open my third present, it looks exciting, I must have saved the best until last.

(Unwrap present 3)

Oh….it’s some socks.

That might seem lame but that is exactly what I need.

I’m always getting holes in my socks and I’ve been left with a load of single socks that make up odd pairs.

When the angels told the shepherds that Jesus was the saviour the shepherds realised that Jesus was exactly what everyone needed.

Lots of people thought that they needed someone to save them so they could be friends with God again.

We couldn’t save ourselves.  God’s people knew that they had gone their own way, they had rebelled against God and done things wrong but they knew they couldn’t save themselves.

They needed a saviour who could make them right with God again and Jesus is that saviour.

Does anyone know what the name ‘Jesus’ means?

Yes, when the angel spoke to Joseph they said you are to call him Jesus, which means the Lord saves, because he will save his people from their sins.

And the saviour that the angel announced to the shepherds is for each of us as well.  It’s exactly what we need to be made right with God.

This is good news of great joy that will be for all people.

It’s great when we get those presents that are just what we need and Jesus is exactly that.

So why you and why now?  We’re going to get some great presents today I’m sure.

But God has already given us the best present we could ever get because he gave us his Son, the baby Jesus who grew up to be

–    the one we were hoping for – the messiah and God’s special king.

–    the one better than we expected – the Lord, this baby is God.

–    the one who’s exactly what we need – the saviour, who would save us from our ourselves so that we could be friends with God.

So on this Christmas morning, may you be transformed by the truth that God sees you.  May you know that you are seen.

Our readings today remind us that the business of God is about turning our brokenness back into beauty — into peace and into joy.  He’s done it for me and he will do it for you too.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

AMEN.

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