Sermon by Rev Sydney Maitland for Wednesday 25 December 2019.
• Old Testament: Isaiah 9: 2–7 (Wonderful counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace)
• Epistle: Titus 2: 11–14 (The grace of God has appeared)
• Gospel: Luke 2: 1–20 ( The birth of Jesus)
There is one thing that we have that we have forever, even if the state wants to replace it with a number and we have plenty of those: NHS numbers, National Insurance numbers, numbers for passports, driving licenses, never mind the PINs for our bank cards.
Jesus also had one name by which He is known all over heaven and earth, and yet there were other names by which He was also known.
Both Mary and Joseph were separately told He would be called Jesus, yet Isaiah also speaks of Him as Emmanuel, God with Us. But then he also tells of Him as Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
During His ministry, He would be called Son of David and at His crucifixion, Jesus of Nazareth.
In reflecting on Jesus later, John the Evangelist would call Him The Word.
So many names but one reality, one purpose and one life upon the earth.
Yet He came in weakness, lived in humility, died in agony but was raised in glory. And it was this glory that the whole army of heaven burst forth with as it appeared to the bemused and possibly cynical shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem.
Whatever aspect of Jesus we are looking at, there are others as well, like the facets of a diamond. Whatever our hopes and expectations, it is the plans of God that matter most and perhaps this is the clue to it all.
We all have our experiences and our own sense of being. Together they make a society and a church. But God also has an agenda and the more we can set ours aside then the more that we can be open to God’s plans for us.
And yes, the life and person of Jesus draw it all together. For all His names and attributes, He has a place and a purpose for us within His plans for His people.
Perhaps the pointer to it all is in the responses of those who were drawn into His story. For Mary, it was ‘Be it to me according to your word.’ For Joseph, it was his obedience to the guidance he was given in his dreams.
For the disciples it was their act of getting up and following him, leaving all other priorities behind. The shepherds obeyed the voices of the angels and the wise men from the east followed a star.
Each of us also has the opportunity to turn around and follow Him. Each of us has a story with its own sense of coming from somewhere and yet journeying forth.
We have all had our successes and disappointments, but it is not these that will define who we are so much as the way we find ourselves renewed and restored and redirected in Jesus.
He comes to us, from the simplicity of a manger in Bethlehem or walking along a seashore. Each of us has our own story and yet Jesus is inviting us to be part of His story, in which He is indeed the Word, who was with God and was indeed God.
God of God and Light of Light, Very God of Very God.