Isaiah 9:2-7 Psalm 96 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-20
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” the prophet Isaiah says. To be in the dark about something suggests we are ignorant of the facts – ignorant, not stupid. We just don’t know or understand the truth. The metaphors of darkness and light for sin and righteousness, for ignorance and knowledge are fitting because we can’t see well in the dark. It is easy to stumble when are unable to see the obstacles in our path.
Thus, we pair darkness with difficulty, and light with prosperity. I don’t mean prosperity in the sense of material rewards, but rather as being able to see all the blessings of this life. We refer to the Light of Christ because Jesus helps us see the depth of God’s love. Jesus comes to us in the flesh and reveals the love God has for each of us. As a newborn infant, God takes our form and enters into our world, not because of our sin, but because God loves us and wants to help us find our way.
God arrives in our world as an infant, and this is significant. Not only because it demonstrates to us that God values our life on earth, but because babies are dependent on us to provide for their every need. Thus, to serve God, Mary and Joseph have to keep Jesus warm and dry – even if that means wrapping him is bands of cloth and laying him in a manger, which is a feeding trough in the stable where they found shelter for the night. They raise this child, the Christ Child, by feeding and clothing him. They teach him how to dress and bath himself. They take him to the synagogue and teach him the prayers of their people. Raising Jesus is, for them, serving God.
We, too, serve God by caring for our own children, and all the children of St. Paul’s, by encouraging them and teaching them to be followers of Christ. The birth of a child may fill us with joy and with hope for our future, but raising a child is not easy and requires commitment. Parents and grandparents, alike, know it is work. Being a follower of Christ is work as well. Throughout his ministry, Jesus helped the poor, the sick, and the outcast.
In Christianity, we understand Isaiah to be speaking of the birth of Jesus when he says:
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.
Isaiah goes on to say the authority of this child will grow and he shall establish endless peace. This is the hope the shepherds have upon hearing the news from the angel of the Lord who appeared to them, saying, “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.”
This child who is born this day, the Savior of ALL people, is for us both a sign of God’s love for us AND a call to service. The shepherds responded by going to see for themselves, just as you have come tonight to experience Christ’s presence here – and I assure you Christ is present here tonight – seated in the pew next to you, in the choir, and around the altar. Christ is also present in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and Christ is calling each of us to service.
For the peace of God to be experience by all, we need to care and nurture for this child, to nurture the Christ child within our hearts so Christ’s light might shine forth in our lives, helping others see the way to the peace he has to offer. The shepherds understand this, they become the light for others. Luke says, “they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. . . .The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”
Not only do we need to care for the Christ within each of us as a mother cares for her child, we need to follow the example of the shepherds and share God’s love with others. Sharing the love of God with others isn’t really difficult to do when we look at others as children of God, who like Christ entered this world in need of loving and caring parents to guide him into adulthood. Truth be told, we are all childlike at times and in need of a reassuring smile or hug, and we are hungry or thirsty and in need of someone to share a meal with us. Sharing the love of Christ is had about quoting scriptures, it is a caring for others, acknowledging their presence with a smile, and responding to their needs.
Christ entered the world as a child to show us the way to peace begins by taking care of the least among us.
Let us pray.
We thank you Lord, for coming to us this night to show us the way. Help us, we pray, to learn from Joseph and Mary that we might feed and nourish your love in others. Help us, too, to grow in faith and service that others might know you through our actions. We offer our prayers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.