Real Good News Christmas – Fr. Rob

  • February 25, 2017

The Rev. Robert P. Travis

Christmas Eve Sermon –  5, 10pm Church of the Ascension and Chapel of St. John the Divine, Saunderstown

RCL Year A 12/24/2016

Scripture Text: Isaiah 9:2-7

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

Psalm 96

Sermon Text:

Last week in the paper there was a cartoon.

It showed a little boy,

Sitting on a couch,

Writing a letter.

The letter said,

Dear Santa,

Don’t believe what you may have heard

About my being bad.

That was fake news.

 

We live in a world,

Where it can be hard to tell what to believe,

Where there is fake news,

And real news,

Where all around us there is a lot

of unbelievably bad news.

 

Tonight (Today) we get to celebrate

The good news,

That the unbelievably good news really happened.

Even though massive odds were

Stacked against it,

And forces continue to try to destroy it today.

The good news is that God is with us.

Emmanuel has come,

And Jesus is his name.

In fact, the good news includes the fact

That audacious though it was,

God chose to prove the evil powerless,

By defeating it in the most harmless of ways.

 

Of all the ways that God could come into the world,

The idea that God would risk so much,

By becoming an infant,

The first born son,

Born to a poor young woman,

Who had never done this before.

In labor privately with her husband,

But otherwise in a strange village,

By a manger where animals feed,

because there was no room at the inn,

after a journey.

Why didn’t the baby come

With all the jostling on the journey?

Couldn’t there be a place found with room,

By God for his only son?

How did the birth happen without

Difficulty, when there were no women around to help?

These are just some of the questions,

That make me think how risky this situation was.

Any number of things could have gone wrong,

For Mary and Joseph,

And for the baby Jesus.

 

You know one thing I learned this week

From our bishop,

Who many of you know is a physicist…

One photon visible…

 

Just when Jesus was born,

An Angel appeared to the most unlikely

People, to shepherds in a field.

I say unlikely,

Because one would think that

For The King of the Universe,

God’s own messenger

Would appear to the most powerful people.

Leaders don’t customarily

Send diplomats to peasants in a foreign place.

 

By the world’s standards, the angel should have appeared

To Caesar, or at least the king of Judea.

Not to some rough men at the bottom

Of the employment chain.

 

That brings up the notion,

Of the jealousy of those with power,

Which we learn about later,

When we see the young family

Escaping to Egypt for the life of their son,

Becoming refugees,

After being warned that the king

Wants to kill the baby.

Talk about a risky situation.

There were so many things that could have gone wrong.

 

With so much at stake,

And so many possible pitfalls,

One might think that even God

Would be afraid that this plan

Would not work out.

 

But the first message the angel

Gave from God to those humble,

Terrified shepherds was

“Be not afraid.”

That message was for all of us as well,

Under the circumstances of that time,

As well as under the circumstances of today.

 

Notice from the first few verses,

The news, if you will,

that brought about these circumstances,

Was the ruler of the known world,

Caesar Augustus,

Called for a census,

That required everyone to go to the

Town of their ancestors and be counted.

So everyone had to go.

Then as now power, men with political power,

had control of people,

power could cause people to take risks

they would not otherwise do.

 

In other news,

Luke tells us, that

At that time Quirinius was governor of Syria.

This year that statement has taken on

New meaning for us.

There’s a name we’ve heard about

Frequently in our news lately,

Syria.

The news from there has been horrible.

Showing that powerful men,

Can cause people to take risks,

Like fleeing their own country,

That they would not otherwise do.

 

Then there was the news just last week,

Of the terrorist attack with a hijacked truck,

On the open air Christmas Market

In Berlin.

Showing that men without political power,

Will also try to use whatever power they can hold,

Sometimes in anger against innocent people.

 

Those kinds of people wrought havoc

In Jesus’ time as well.

Often accosting travelers on the road.

They could have been yet another risk,

Mary and Joseph were forced to take,

By travelling at that precarious time,

When Jesus was to be born.

If I were in Mary and Joseph’s shoes,

Like a Syrian fleeing my country today,

I might wonder if God was present at all,

With so much danger facing us.

 

These situations in our news today

tell us that the same forces,

That were arrayed against Jesus

Two thousand years ago,

Are still fighting to steal, kill and destroy the good today.

The difference between then and now is,

Those forces are desperate,

Because they have already lost.

 

God chose to come into such circumstances,

To become a vulnerable, helpless new born baby,

To show us we have nothing to fear.

 

The angel’s message,

“Be not afraid”

Is for all people of faith as well.

This vulnerable baby,

With the help of his humble but good,

And most importantly faithful parents,

Made it to adulthood,

He was even able to accomplish the amazing

Task that was his purpose here among us.

He would show God’s glory,

By healing, teaching, giving hope,

And finally defeating evil by dying at evil’s hands,

Only to rise again,

showing that finally evil will not have

the upper hand.

 

In God seeming to take the greatest of chances,

On us,

for us,

as one of us,

God shows the confidence

God knows is real good news,

not fake news,

Not the bragging of arrogant men,

But the confidence of One who truly cares,

About the most vulnerable people,

People whose circumstances

Often require them to take risks

They would not normally choose.

God cares about the most vulnerable

Of people enough to make holy

Their lives by entering the world

In the most vulnerable way.

 

Jesus birth shows us that while our situations

May seem risky or fearful,

He is with us.

Emmanuel is God with us.

 

He became one of us,

One of the least of us,

To show us there is nothing to fear.

Our powerful enemy is defeated by a little baby,

Brought into the world safely,

Though every possible risk said it shouldn’t work.

 

The Shepherds had an interesting response,

To the message they received.

These low-class people

we might think would not be

worthy to be entrusted with such a message.

These shepherds,

Who first heard the message of the Angel,

And first witnessed Christ the Lord,

Born among us,

Responded by telling everyone the good news,

Rejoicing and praising God.

 

In a world where evil still tries to destroy

the Good news all around us,

One of the most powerful ways

To respond to God’s confident message,

Of strength in weakness, love overcoming death,

Is to simply share this good news with others.

 

It was like they experienced the light that

Had been born in them,

In the midst of the darkness of their lives.

That little baby, that tiny amount of light

Was enough to overcome the darkness.

That same light is born in each of us.

You can go out and bring this light to others.

 

The message of Christmas calls for

A response from each of us.

What will your response be?

 

Amen

The Rev. Robert P. Travis

Father Rob goes by Father so that he remembers his duty to the people of God whom he serves. He’s been ordained since 2006, serving in Florida and Tennessee and before that served as a youth minister in Long Island, NY. More details