Passage: Luke 2:1–1:20
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 2:1-20
Date: December 24th, 2017; Christmas Eve
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Some people think that the Christmas story is simply too good to be true.
They’re sceptics - but they play along with the season anyway because they like fairy tales.
They think it’s just a nice story that we tell each year to make ourselves feel warm and fuzzy inside.
They view Christmas as an exercise in escapism, a little oasis of “let’s pretend” in the arid desert of life’s bitter reality.
Yes, Christmas has taken on a lot of myth over the years, but at its centre - Christmas is no fantasy at all. It’s fact.
It’s the true story of God’s love in action.
And there’s a reason why we are attracted to this story.
Not because it’s a fairy tale, but because it’s far more than any fairy tale could ever be.
The tragedy is unlike any other.
The Creator creates us in his image for an eternal life of love and order and joy.
But our sin, our disobedience to God and his Word - caused hatred, and chaos, and misery, and death to enter his creation.
No wicked witch ever threatened Hansel and Gretel with more destructive power than our ancient enemy, the devil.
His unbending and ruthless goal is our eternal destruction and our eternal separation from God.
But while the tragedy is unlike any other - so is the triumph.
No Prince Charming could ever top the love and self-sacrifice that was offered by Christ Jesus who purchased us from sin and death with the great price of his innocent blood.
The Christmas story is the true account of God intervening in history to save us from our sin and death. It’s far more than just a fairy tale.
It’s the story of a real baby born at a time in history when Quirinius was governor in Syria.
It’s the story of a real man who some thirty-three years later was put to death by crucifixion when Pontius Pilate governed in Judea.
It actually happened just as the angels told the shepherds it would happen.
Christmas is not just a fairy tale - it’s our greatest hope.
It’s a certain hope that is grounded in fact.
Life can be difficult in this fallen world.
The troubles we face are anything but fairy tales.
The hurtful words that we speak to others, even to those we love the most - are real.
The pain we feel when hurtful words are spoken to us - is real.
The stress, and anxiety, and worry that we feel in our lives, that we have over the lives of our loved ones - is real.
Our struggle with our sin and the feelings of guilt we have - is real.
The pain we feel when we fall and break bones, when we get sick, when parts of our bodies stop working the way that they should - is real.
The sadness and grief we feel when we mourn the death of those we love dearly (especially this time of year) - is real.
But, the Good News is that the Christmas story of God intervening in history to save us from all of this, to save us from sin and all of its horrible consequences, to save us from death - is also real.
The forgiveness that Christ Jesus won for us on the cross - is real.
We have been clothed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Our holiness in Christ - is real.
The victory we have over our death - is real.
Jesus rose victorious from his grave and appeared to many - and we too will rise victorious from our graves.
This is why we sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come”.
We have joy in the midst of life’s difficulties because the Lord has come to save us.
And he continues to come among us to save us.
He comes among us in unseen splendour - through his Word of truth, through the washing waters of Baptism, through his true body and true blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.
These gifts, these means of grace, stir-up and sustain our faith which receives God’s gift of salvation.
He comes among us in unseen splendour to soothe our sorrows, to dry our tears, and to lift up our hearts.
Dear friends in Christ, even while the world (and maybe even our own lives) seem to be unravelling and coming apart at the seams - there is hope.
“Fear not,” says Jesus. “In this world you shall have tribulation. But do not be afraid; for I have overcome the world” (Matthew 16:33).
So let earth prepare to receive her King.
And let every heart be glad; for we, like the shepherds, have seen God’s glory wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying low in a manger.
The Christmas story is the true account of God intervening in history to save us from our sin and death.
It’s far more than any fairy tale could ever be.
The Christmas story is fact - and now there is nothing in all creation that can ever separate us from his love.
“Joy, joy, for Christ is born, the babe, the son of Mary!” Amen!