Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church  

God with Us

A sermon preached at a joint service of Kowloon Union Church and the Korean and Cantonese-speaking congregations of the Love and Truth Christian Church, on Christmas Day 2004, by David Gill. The scripture readings that day were Isaiah 9:2-7, Titus 3:4-7 and St John 1:1-14.

My sermon today will be short.

Because Christmas is not primarily a day for talking -- or for listening to someone else talk.

No, Christmas is a day for wondering … for marveling … for rejoicing … for worshipping … for joining our voices with the songs of the angels.

For on this day we ponder, again, the mystery of the ages. The mystery of “emmanuel” – which means “God with us”. The mystery of a God who so loved the world that he gave his only son. The mystery of a God who so loves us that he has become one with us.

On this holy day of Christmas, eternity enters time. On this day, light shines in the darkness. On this day, God is born among us.

And from this day, for those with the eyes to see, nothing can ever be quite the same again.

This morning we are remembering the stories of Christmas. Wonderful stories, all of them. But it’s not the birth stories that make the baby of Bethlehem so extraordinary. It’s not the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, the star. They are just the wrapping paper.

And it’s certainly not Santa Claus, “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and all the other nonsense which, sadly, many people imagine is what Christmas is all about.

No, what makes this birth extraordinary is the extraordinary life that is to follow. A life of compassion, of self-giving love, of solidarity with the poor and forgotten. A life that ends with an execution yet somehow doesn’t end there at all. A life that, Christians claim, reveals the heart of God, and thus shows us for all time the way things really are.

What does it show us?

Simply, staggeringly, this. That the impenetrable silence that surrounds us, the vast mystery that embraces us, is love beyond anything mortals could create or imagine. Love without limit. Love without end. Love that is unearned, unearnable. Love that has within it the ever-present possibility of forgiveness and new beginnings. Love that goes to a cross – and beyond – for the likes of you and me.

That is the heart of God. That is the ultimate reality. That is the way things really are.

And that is why, after this day, nothing can ever be quite the same again. “What has come into being in him was life,” says St John’s gospel, “and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”.

The darkness did not. And the darkness never will.

Nor will anything else. Ever. For now we know that, come what may, there is light in the darkness, there is love in the loneliness, there is grace in the emptiness, there is meaning in the madness.

And there is a home, in the heart of God. For you. For me. For a wandering world whose destiny lies waiting in a stable in Bethlehem.

O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

* * *

# posted by Kwok Nai Wang : Saturday, December 25, 2004

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