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The Rev. Samuel Edwards: Sermon for Christmas Day
Prydain ^ | 12/27/2005 | Will

Posted on 12/27/2005 9:33:52 AM PST by sionnsar

From the Rev. Samuel Edwards of the Anglican Church of the Holy Comforter in Alabama, we have this sermon for Christmas Day:

Sermon for Christmas Day (2005)

Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. [Luke 2:11]

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

All too often it escapes our notice that the first announcement of the Birth of Jesus was made to a most unlikely group of people. It was not declared to the wise, nor was it proclaimed to the powerful; rather, it was announced to a group of basic, ordinary, scruffy, cold, and unkempt shepherds.

Now in the time of our Lord’s birth, shepherds were held in high esteem only in books. In day-to-day life, they were despised as a class, being popularly thought (with good reason) to be unruly, dishonest, trespassing, and violent. The religious leaders and farmers and merchants who lived in the towns may have recognized that shepherds performed a useful function, but they preferred to have them perform it out of their sight. The relationship between the town-dweller and the shepherd in first-century Judea was very like that which existed in a later time between townspeople and cowboys as the frontier faded away.

Shepherds were despised as a class, and like many members of despised classes throughout human history, most of them, deep down, probably despised themselves almost as much as they were despised. They knew what a lousy lot they were; they recognized the wretchedness of their condition; they were aware of their inadequacy and that they fell short of the standards of self-consciously “decent people”; they knew that they were powerless to do much to overcome their misery, and so most of them no doubt lived in a twilight of despair and apathy. Perhaps the ones who were watching their flocks on the hillsides above Bethlehem that night had as their hope (if it can be called that) that they would finish life without too much pain and escape the notice of God as well as men when they left it: After all, popular opinion gave them no grounds for thinking that God would have anything good for them at the end.

It is no wonder, then, that when the angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord – the Shekinah, the light of the Presence – shone around them, they were filled with fear. For that moment before the angel’s, “Fear not,” they probably thought that they were going to be struck dead.

But they weren’t, of course. Instead, they were given a message quite unlike any that they could have expected to hear: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.” They were given news that they did not expect in a way that they could not have foreseen. They heard the message of the coming of a Savior because they knew, better than anybody else, just how badly they needed saving.

You can’t receive a Savior unless you know you need saving, and that’s the point for all of us, all of the time. For until we know that our wisdom is insufficient to save us from ourselves, and until we are convinced that all our power is powerless to prevent us from sinking into personal and social ruin, until we realize that, at bottom, we are no better off than “certain poor shepherds,” we can only listen to the angel’s proclamation that to us is born this day a Savior – we cannot truly hear it. But if we hear it, if we allow it to sink down deep into us, if we receive the Savior it proclaims, it will transfigure our lives and we shall know what is the peace it promises.

The good news in the Christmas message is summed up in what Saint Paul writes to Titus in the Epistle for this day: “After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” [Titus 3:4-7]

The message to us today is the same as it has been from that first Christmas, the same one proclaimed in every celebration of the mystery of faith: There is born, and lives, a Savior for us, in whom we have the hope of life eternal, with whom God is pleased, and in whom we too may be pleasing to God and receive on earth his peace. O come, let us adore him – Christ the Lord.

The troubling aspect of this sermon for me is the statement "You can't receive a Savior unless you know you need saving..."--which I know is indeed true. But it seems that as our society descends ever more into postmodern thought and loses its awareness of its need for God, more and more people lose sight of their need for a Savior to reconcile us to that God. May God indeed call us back to an awareness of Him and of our need for a Savior.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 12/27/2005 9:33:53 AM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; ..
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2 posted on 12/27/2005 9:35:02 AM PST by sionnsar (†† || Libs: Celebrate MY diversity, eh! || Iran Azadi 2006)
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