Homily: Christmas Eve 2016
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.’
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’[d] (which means ‘God with us’).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
What kind of King would this be?
What kind of leader do you like?
What kind of master do you think we all need?
I hear the Spirit of God calling this Christmas Eve.
I hear the King of all kings calling.
I hear the master of life and death in the manger calling you this night.
I hear the Spirit calling you as he called Joe the carpenter, to be included in his grand plans for his world – plans to bring humanity and all creation back to a peace-filled, joy-filled, rest-filled relationship between he and us.
How do we respond to God’s call to be a part of what he is doing in his world where we live?
I listen to the account of Joseph and I hear how you and I are to respond to the King who calls at Christmas.
Joseph shows us how to respond to the Lord’s call on our lives as 2016 hits 2017…
Joseph speaks with God.
Joseph does what he is called to do not knowing the outcome.
Listen, Speak, Do – that is the response tonight. It’s always the response. It’s Joseph’s response. The Spirit calls you to do a “Joseph” tonight.
The Call of this Christmas is for you and I to Listen, Speak and Do.
But is this really for you?
Is God really calling you this Christmas? Isn’t this just paying our dues or keeping family tradition or telling bedtime stories to children?
I find one thing remarkable this Christmas. The call of Jesus is a call to everyone – without exception – those who believe they are too good for God to Call; those who believe that they are too bad for God to call, and those who don’t believe there is a call of God, or a God at all.
The call is even for those who believe that they are not required by God – for this grand plan he is enacting in his world…. Surely Joseph must have believed that he was no longer required. Joseph could have viewed himself, or been seen by others as superfluous to God’s divine work. A lot of people seem to be like that. Joseph could have been seen like a spouse of a king or a queen – unnecessary, not needed, unimportant in the plans of God. Like Camilla to Charles or Kate to William – a mere fringe player at best.
Do you view yourself as not required?
Joseph was going to separate from his young fiancé to save her the trouble of keeping up the charade that theirs was a marriage made in heaven. But the man is still included in God’ activity to change the world. Joseph is needed. The child, Jesus needs an earthly father as he needs his heavenly father. Mary needs a partner in life even though she is a daughter of the God of the miracle of the virgin birth. The boy Jesus needs to learn a craft, the value of contributing to others from his earthly dad. He needs the tender and unshakable embrace of a mother.
It is clear mums and dads and grandparents – being a holy family is a holy calling.
It is clear that the call of the living Jesus includes troubled teenagers (Mary), lonely or anxious or rejected young men (Joseph), successful or struggling parents and children living the journey of life together (Mary, Joseph and Jesus and brothers and sisters).
I hear the Spirit of Jesus calling you, family, and family of God in this community.
Lonely men feeling left on the bench or betrayed and hung out to dry.
- Young women feeling confused about their place, their worth, their future.
- Dad’s, mums’ kids and grandies,
- Tradies, workers, handymen and women, business owners,
- people of the wood or the metal or the land or the animals.
Prophets, prostitutes, slaves, masters, the faithful and the faithless – this generation and the ones to come.
Will you listen to his call? It is for you. Will you do it – live it, try it, learn it as you go to the best of your ability?
The call of Christmas is the Call of this God – Emmanuel – a Creator, Sustanier and gracious redeemer of our wayward and destructive bodies. It is the baby who would born for the cross who would lose his loving relationship with both his earthly and heavenly Father for a moment in time on that cross. It is the call of the Saviour who would give us a relationship of love and joy with God as our loving heavenly parent as a result.
For you, this call of the Christmas child might be like it was for Joseph – scary! – like a real-life nightmare. That is how it began for Joseph! But it won’t stay that way, as it did not stay that way for Joseph. He becomes the model for the world of the way to respond to the Call of God – Listen, speak and do. As he did for Joseph and billions of humans since, God has cast his lot upon you. It is a lot of meaning, purpose, hope, peace, forgiveness and above all, love. I hear the Spirit of God calling this Christmas.