Sermon for Christmas Day, 25 December 2023 Anno Domini

the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide

“ And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Gospel of St. Luke 2:8-12; all scripture from the Authorized King James Bible)


I have heard arguments made that Easter is the most important of all Church Holy Days, and, on the other hand, I have also heard it argued that the Birth of Jesus supercedes them all. The argument is nebulous in that it has no definitive answer. It is very much like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. Without the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, there would be no other days to celebrate in the Church calendar. All the acts of the Lord are beyond our finding out – all are of supreme importance.

Many teach their children that Santa Claus is the reason for Christmas – that he is omniscient and knows when they are sleeping, and whether they have been good or bad. He is the bringer of good gifts. Even if unintentionally, he is presented as a substitute for the real giver of good gifts. Of course, in time, the child learns that Santa was simply a fool’s joke. Hopefully, they will not be led to believe that what their parents taught them of Christ was also a joke. Afterall, it is Christ alone that knows the heart of each of us and the dark secrets of our imaginations. It is Christ who bears good gifts for us and not Santa Claus or any other imaginary creature invented by the false traditions of men.

Over the years many attempts are made to replace the real reason for Christmas. Men have invented frivolous little jingles and romantic songs as a substitute for the serious hymns and carols of Christmas. The world hates to acknowledge Christ as the reason for joy and love. They have replaced the name of Christmas with X-Mas. They vainly argument the connection with a Greek alphabet character for making the substitution.

They exchange gifts one with another in a mysterious spirit of love not knowing the true source of that love. They forget that it is the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ and often withhold the one special gift that He would prize above all else – their hearts. They cannot deny that something extremely important happened 2,023 years ago, so they attempt to cloud the issue by changing the date by classifying it as BCE (before the common Era) and CE (Common Era, instead of the proper classification, BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini – after the Dominion of Christ).

From my earliest remembrances of Christmas as a child, I always say such beauty and mystery in the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. The Christmas carols always confirmed the truth in my mind of His coming as a babe. The jingles and fantasies of a reindeer with a shiny nose held no interest for me. I still love Christmas and its carols and hymns above all else of the seasons.

The mind that is uncluttered with envy, covetous ness, greed and pride often miss the true purpose of Christmas. Perhaps that is why the great Angel announced His Coming first to simple, poor shepherds on the hills overlooking Bethlehem. Once they were told of the birth, they came in haste to where the child lay to adore Him. They then departed to share their marvelous experience with all who would listen. Can we do any less?

My favorite passage on the Christmas story comes from Luke 2:1-20. In fact, I memorized it as a 7 year old with the intention to recite it before the entire church on Christmas Eve. I stumbled through the first verse and froze up. I was terrified of speaking in public. I resolved to memorize that story so completely that I would never fail again.

I always wondered at the description of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. After observing the customs of the people of Iran for a few years, I learned much about their local customs that had direct bearing on biblical accounts. New born babes are still wrapped in swaddling clothes in most societies of the Middle East. Swaddling clothes consist of fine linen which are wrapped about the baby first, and then covered with wool for warmth. Martin Luther tells us that the outer layer of wool represented Law, and the soft, white linen the prophets. Both pointed to Christin shadow.

The birth of Christ came at precisely the time prophesied and according to the predestinate will of God  – “in the fulness of time.” “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (Galatians 4:4) His coming shook the world as described in Haggai: “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:6-7) The heavens were shaken with joy as the angelic host sang the first Christmas carol above the hill country around Bethlehem. The secular power in the palace of Herod were shaken to the core resulting in the murder of many innocents in the little hamlet of Bethlehem – not because they believed an imposter would be born, but they knew it was the answer of God’s prophecy. Christ is truly the desire of nations even while they cannot grasp it fully. He came as the only grantor of peace, yet He is the last resort for peace among the errant nations. His Gospel is the balm and healing of all nations, yet His Word and Law are the only possibilities that are rejected by the centers of world power.

Our Lord Jesus was lain in a manger – a device for the feeding of the beasts of the field, and, truly, we were no less than beasts without Christ; yet, we feed on Him for our very being and future promise. The beasts of the field were more privileged than we to see firsthand His birth. The rude wood that supported the child at birth presented a shadow of His sacrifice some thirty-three years hence on a wooden cross on the brow of Golgotha.

There are two words that best describe His coming to me – Light and Love. After four hundred years of silence from heaven during the intervening period between the end of Malachi and the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, light suddenly dawned to scatter the smothering darkness of those four hundred years. The love of God is beyond the fathoming mind of mankind. What an ocean of love is reflected in God’s sending His only Begotten Son to redeem a world who literally hated Him.

All of us born of faith were symbolically born at Bethlehem that fateful night 2023 years ago. We were made new creatures in Him who came to redeem us who could not save ourselves. He bore our sins and our burdens at Calvary that we might share a borrowed tomb just as He had when the curtain falls on this life.

By |2023-12-27T20:10:59+00:00December 27th, 2023|Blog|Comments Off on YOU SHALL FIND THE BABE

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