Sermon for Christmas

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Christmas’?

  • Do you think of months of preparations and great expense?
  • Do you think of enormous amounts of food and drink?
  • Do you think of presents to be bought, wrapped and dispatched?

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Christmas’?

  • Do you think of a decorated tree and sparkling lights?
  • Do you think of cards and good cheer?
  • Do you think of nostalgic films and oft-repeated songs of yesteryear?

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Christmas’?

  • Do you think of school nativity plays and carol singing?
  • Do you think of friends and neighbours getting along for a few short days?
  • Do you think of years past with loved ones long departed?

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Christmas’?

  • For me, Christmas brings to mind a time of family cheer and times of great fun.
  • For me, Christmas brings to mind music and walks and a thrilling chill in the air.
  • For me, Christmas reminds me of the greatest gift that has ever been given.

Of course, I join with friends and family (well, I have in previous years) to share in times that make us all feel warm inside, but I also think of a gift that cannot be bought online, nor anywhere else.

For me, Christmas is, first and foremost, about that moment in human history when it all started.

For me, Christmas is about bringing together all of those fantastic human thoughts and memories to celebrate the moment, some two thousand years ago, when a baby was born in the hill-top town of Bethlehem.

Every time I think of Christmas I think of a young woman, just a teenager, who said ‘Yes’ when God asked her to do a special job for him.

I think of an honourable man who travelled with that brave young woman in order that God’s promise to humanity might be fulfilled.

I think of the shepherds, surprised by God’s messengers as they sat on the lonely hillside tending their sheep.

I think of wise men travelling a thousand miles or more because they recognized that God was not just working a miracle, but actually coming to earth in person.

When I think of Christmas I think of all those people gathering in a tiny humble stable, not to overeat, overdrink and listen to the Queen’s speech, but to worship at the cradle of God’s own Son who came as the only Christmas gift that is worth having.

We mark this moment every year, but do we remember what it is that we are celebrating?

In less ‘restricted’ times we travel, and sing, and eat, and drink, and exchange presents.

But, how often do we recall why we do all that?

How often do we remember that the message of Christmas is the message of God’s love for all of us, for ever and ever.

We all like stories that finish with the words: and they lived happily ever after.

The story of Christmas should be like that but, so often, it isn’t.

So often we let the messiness of human emotions and demands get in the way of the eternal happiness that was given to us on that first Christmas day.

As we live through this very different Christmas, this Christmas 2020, let us take the opportunity to stop complaining that things are different and let us remember the simplicity of the birth of that very special baby, in a simple stable, in the hill-top town of Bethlehem some two thousand years ago.

And let us give thanks to God for giving us, not the latest gadget or the ‘must have’ toy of the moment, but himself.

Let us, when we think of the word ‘Christmas’, join Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds and the Wise Men, as they join with the angels in singing: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace to this troubled world.’