Sermon, Christmas 2A, Sunday December 29, 2019 Away in a manger

 Hebrews 2:10-18 

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.[a] 12 He says, 

‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; 

    in the assembly I will sing your praises.’[b] 

13 And again, 

‘I will put my trust in him.’[c] 

And again he says, 

‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’[d] 

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[e] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. 

So, it has all happened again. The big event has come and gone and here we are, with a moment to ponder what has happened. Let’s de-brief 

How did it go? Was the food good? How were the guests? Would you invite them back?! If Juan Antonio Sanchez, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee at the Sydney Olympics, was standing at a podium making an announcement to the word about your Christmas, would he say, “It was the best Games ever……or not!?”  

Whether or not Christmas was the best or the worst ever, the writer to the Hebrews will help us catch the magnitude and meaning of Jesus.  

He says Jesus is four ways. He is like that pork or ham or turkey that came roasted or fried or pulled or steamed at Christmas. Jesus is good news four ways; 

  1. Jesus is King 
  1. Jesus is blood brother 
  1. Jesus is the Band Leader/Choir master 
  1. Jesus is a merciful and faithful High Priest 

Jesus is King (2:14–15). The writer wants us to trust that Jesus is the only one who delivers us from the worse tyrant who has ever lived. Not Herod, and not even our own sins, but pure evil – the Evil One. Jesus reigns over Satan’s terrorism. Jesus is King of death. 

 Satan is worse than Herod killing all the boys under two and forcing the holy family to escape down to Egypt for a while. He is worse than Pharaoh in Egypt who did the same so long ago. He is worse than the worst we have seen, and we have seen some bad ones, even in our lifetime.   

He is worse than all the rest because we hear that he actually has limited power. He holds the last and greatest enemy we all face – death. The writer says of this tyrant:  

“him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil”. 

Satan is the great deceiver who is always trying to con you into believing that he has total power over you. He wants to produce fear, and plenty of it because fear isolates you, depletes you, robs you.   

But he doesn’t have anything like complete control over you, even though we will indeed all have to face death. Everything has changed in that baby boy and what he did. Satan could just not kill that boy even though he had a good go at him a few times (When an infant, when on the top of temple in direct conflict with Satan who urged Jesus to give up and choose suicide from the top of the temple. Even the Good Friday cross and death!)  

That boy eventually even lived through the death that he ALLOWED to come to himself. And this boy in the box ended up jumping out of the box to change everything. Death was killed and Satan’s power in it limited.    

Now death no longer holds you down, no matter how deathly you may feel. human person has lived through it. He shared his victory with you in that font of life. You have lived through death in your baptism resurrection.   

Now you live in this post-death resurrected life. You’ll live through death when it comes. You live under king Jesus until then and after then.  

The night in the shed tells us that Jesus is our blood brother (2:10–18). He has enabled you and I to become “sons of God” like him (‘sons’ as status, not gender)  

We long for belonging and we have it. We need human connection and it is ours. We thirst for freedom to live well, and in his underserved acceptance and forgiveness, all guilt and shame just falls away every day.    

Jesus is not ashamed to call you brother/sisters.  

Can you hear that?  

Jesus is not ashamed of you.   

That, for me, is THE best ever gift in Christmas. That birth in that shed was the beginning of the end of all my shame and still is. This boy is the truth that just because you do a bad thing does not mean at all that you are bad person! Not as far as your older brother Jesus is concerned.  He is not shamed to stand with you even if you are having trouble standing with yourself.  

Unlike the older brother in the parable of the lost sons who did not lift a finger to go and search for his wayward and guilty brother but instead, judged him, got angry at him and at called he and his father foolsJesus your true older brother lifts his arms in blood on the tree, rises from the dark tomb to find you and lead you home to the Father and a loved child’s welcome.   

So, Jesus is your King and Your blood brother. In the shed we hear the new song, that Jesus is the Band Leader/Choir master (2:12–13). He is teaching his brothers and sisters to praise God together with him. He presents them as praise singers to God and the world.   

Now there are a lot of Christmas songs, many about which I am unsure. But this is the one I am sure about; the one we really need to sing! Jesus sings;  

‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; 

    in the assembly I will sing your praises.’ 

 Can you picture him? Like that wildly popular Andrea Rieu directing the epic music with its epic set and the people singing along in joy. Either that or an intense Bono with his three U2 mates drawing out the song from the thirty thousand strong crowd on Adelaide Oval recently.   

But here the song is not to Andre or Bono or to any mere human glory – it is the song of the angels  “Glory be to the Father, and to Jesus and to the SpiritOur spirit’s sore as Jesus leads the community song   

Jesus is King, Brother, Band leader and then, what about this? Jesus is our merciful and faithful High Priest (2:10–11). Jesus is High pastor; our Pastor of all pastors better than any of them. After his ordination to King of kings, which came via his sacrificial death that cost hi everything but is marvellously free for you and me, Jesus, in true priestly fashion, now provides God’s pardon to his people and shares his own holiness with them.   

Unlike any other of the world’s religious gods who demand that you do it right to get lifeJesus, the Great High Priest simply gives the gifts of life to those who could never earn it, do it, achieve or give enough.  He even sacrifices himself to make this possible. He rises to simply dish out his lavish gifts of love on any everyday person who ever asks. Stunning!   

So now he takes our prayers and our heart and our loves and represents us, prays with us, prays for us before our Father – like a true pastor/priest should, like a true spouse does, like parents do for their kids and kids can do for their parents.   

So, there it is; Jesus, four ways.   

  • This boy is your Ruler in grace 
  • He is your brother not ashamed to name you his sister or brother. That makes you and I sister and brother too.  
  • This boy is your song teacher and leader in the song of your faith-filled heart, and most of all,  
  • This boy is your pastor. 

 So, let him rule so you be grace where you need to be. Grace is the way we choose before judgement, criticism and gossip.   

Because he is not shamed of youspeak of him when the moments arise and stand with anyone, anywhere, anytime in the hope that his grace wins them.   

Sing with songmeister, JesusWhether you sound any good or not. There is life and joy in his band called the church.   

Tell your Chief Pastor what’s on our mind and listen to what’s on his. In the process you will live day by day with a loving Father and his holy community supporting you through anything.   

Christmas is complete. 2020 is ready to go for Christians living four ways with no shame  

Jesus makes you holy and pleasing to the Father and he and we are family.  

He is not ashamed of you.