Sermon, Christmas Day, 2017
Hebrews 1:1–4 God speaks to us through his Son
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
What does God look like in 21st Century Australia? What does he sound like? Has he anything to say? Many are saying, “I don’t care”, “I don’t know” and “No”.
Has God got much to do with Christmas anymore? The songs are sweet but the content seems largely passed over. The story is packaged into a family/child friendly box that you might find difficult to reconcile with a power hungry and paranoid civic leader, shifty underclass shepherds, Arab turban wearing easterners, bitterly cold winter for people from the other side of the tracks in terms of income and lifestyle, a screaming woman in labour pain in the danger of childbirth without sterile instruments, medical expertise, soft clean warm birthing suit room, but with cow poo, scratchy straw and great risk.
And what about Joe? Such a confusing time for a man who thinks his lovely young fiancé has been unfaithful!
Somehow, by the Lord’s leading, Mary and Joe get to that scene of all scenes we have packaged up to look sweet, but isn’t really. The scene is actually ground, dust, cold, flesh, blood, baby birth.
And there is that obvious question: what will the child look like? He will no doubt look like Mary because he comes from her genes. But what about Joe? The boy does not come from his genes. Joe had no idea what the boy was going to look like. You hear him say it – this woman is not really mine and this child won’t be either.
Maybe you reckon this is true for you too? This baby has not got anything to do with me and neither has Mother Mary. The Beatles can sing about her all they like but does Mother Mary or baby Jesus come to me in times of trouble saying comforting words, “Let it be”?
But God always said he would do this. God always said that he would not be silenced by our lack of regard or interest or humility and listening. God always said he would let something be, something the world had not seen so far.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
The world might have stopped listening to this baby these days, but God has not stopped speaking; speaking by this child.
It is a special child indeed
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
In this child lay the truth of life, the light of God, the freely gifted kindness and acceptance of God. We call him “star child, earth child, go between of God, heaven’s lightening rod”.
So what will you do with this child? He did not come from you and yet he comes to you. You may struggle to know what he looks like, but you more easily know what he sounds like because he still speaks. He speaks by the wood of the manger and the cross and cold stone of the empty tomb, and by the blinding light of his ascension to authority and rule over all we know and are.
Will you “do a Joe” and name him yours. In the end Joe made that choice. Joe adopted the boy as his own, put him on his lap and named him the name Jesus, “God saves”, as directed.
And now the risen adult boy Saviour has adopted you as his own boy or girl. He did so when you were baptised into his name. He puts you on his lap and holds you up for all to see and names you “Mine”.
He has been doing so every day you call on him to be with you, forgiven you, make you his star child, his earth child his go between person for the world, his lightening rod to bring light into dark places for people he loves and calls.
Joe asks the question, “Who does my boy look like?” he answers, “My boy looks like God”.
He says it well. He would be in sync with the gospel writers and the writer to Hebrews who we have heard.
What does God look like and who does he speaks through today?