Carol Service – Sermon 122

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thought of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ


What do we find wonderful and exciting about Christmas? –

The decorations – the party atmosphere – the rich food – the holidays off work – being with our family and friends? – over-indulging in a little wine or spirits?

If you ask many families what they think makes their Christmas enjoyable and exciting – they will probably answer – the children – seeing their faces light up as they open their presents – giving and sharing time with them –

Having children in our homes can help make things special – having one child in particular – can change our lives

point 1 

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus – the fulfillment of God’s promise to send a Messiah – a Saviour – a descendent of David whose kingdom shall never end –

In the verses we heard – Luke describes the Annunciation – the first hearing of Jesus’ arrival – by His chosen mother Mary –

He tells us of the greeting from the Angel – and the news that she would have a Son – the protest that she was not yet married – and the reply that it would not be a man who came to her – but the Holy Spirit of God Himself –

The expected event was to be unique – something wonderful – a new human being – but one whose origins are with God Himself – literally the Son of the most high –

Most of us would have said that a girl so young and inexperienced as Mary– could not possibly have known her own mind – but Gabriael approaches her with all deference and respect. Confident that even this teenager is capable of responding to God’s will –

That confidence rests on 3 qualities – which shine through –

Mary’s humility – she is astonished to be greeted as one who is specially favoured

Her Honesty – she is not afraid to question the Angel as to how his promise to her can possibly come true –

Her affirmation of life – having asked her question and expressed her doubts – Mary then says “Yes” – she still does not know all that lies ahead but accepts God’s will for her life – and so becomes the bearer of the world’s saviour –

“I am the Lord’s servant” said Mary “Let it be as you have said”

How many of us have watched in amazement as children open their presents – at Christmas – take a quick look at what’s inside – and then start to play with the paper or the box –

Do we ever stop to wonder then – what God must think of us – when we – spend so much time playing with our Christmas wrappings – our parties – our drinking – our present buying – only to ignore the real gift – the real reason – behind it all – Jesus Christ –

Mary wholeheartedly accepted Jesus into her life – yet we find it difficult – to make Him part of ours

Maybe we need to look again – at the reasons why Jesus came – and what difference He can make to our lives and our world today


point 2       God comes into History

Some modern glass buildings – have a picture of a bird in flight – on their large glass sections – this is to stop birds flying into the glass and killing themselves –

It seems that the only thing that will persuade them to change direction – is to see one of their own kind – doing the same –

Well it’s a bit like that with God and us –

God wants us to change our direction – and follow His –

For years He has tried to communicate with us – through miracles and prophets – and has largely been ignored –Until finally God decided to come down as one of us – and helps us to change –

In John’s Gospel – Jesus is described as “The Word made flesh” – Jesus came to tell us about God – to show us what God is like and what He wants us to become

In other words – Jesus’ life is an illustration of God’s nature – and a blueprint for us to copy and follow

In Jesus God shows us too – that He is prepared to experience every aspect of our lives –

He sent Him into the world as a baby – the most vulnerable time of our lives – and chose a 14 year old girl – from a poor family – and from one of the most oppressed peoples of the world – to bring Him up – its certainly not the start we would have chosen – for the King of kings –

Jesus will rule over Israel forever – but not like any king before Him – He will be a true example of God’s grace –

He came to live – and experience – our disappointments and failures – to help us to see God at work even in our most difficult times –

He came to express God’s love in the most needed places – to heal the sick – give sight to the blind – enable the lame to walk – put His life on the line – in order to show us that He understands and cares for our individual needs –

In an act of pure love – God sent His only Son – to die for us on the cross – so that our sins can be forgiven –

We celebrate Christmas and the gift of Jesus in a manger – but its not the manger that gives us a restored relationship with God – it’s the cross and the empty tomb –

Sin means missing the mark – falling short of what God expects – we allow – our pride – our fears – to take control – and lead us into actions we know are wrong –

It leaves us with feelings of guilt and helplessness – that leave their mark – on our lives –

We all know about computer – viruses

If they go unchecked – they worm their way in – until the performance is affected – and until one day – everything comes to a crashing halt

Sin is like a virus – it eats away – at the heart – getting a foothold where it can – if it doesn’t get checked – it won’t stop until our relationship with God is completely – severed

The scars of our past sins can run deep within us – and we can’t remove them by ourselves –

Jesus came to take away those scars – so that we can start again –

When we accept Jesus as our Saviour – because of His death – we are brought closer to God – and our sins no longer separate us from Him –

The empty tomb symbolizes Jesus’ resurrection – and because Jesus – rose from the dead – we know that death is just the removal of the final barrier between ourselves and God – and there is something more marvelous and everlasting to come –

Jesus gave everything for us – so that we could receive everything from God –


point 3      What it means to say Yes –

A little boy was with his Father – at church looking curiously at the Nativity scene – “Dad – look at the manger – is Father Christmas there? – “No” said his Father – it’s the Kings giving presents to Jesus – remember we told you – that Christmas is really about – a celebration of Jesus’ birth –

The boy thought for a moment – and then asked another question

Dad – “What are we giving Jesus for His birthday this year?”

The greatest gift any one can receive is Jesus Christ –

The most important we can give Him – is ourselves –

In our Christmas celebrations – we might be warmed to the accounts of Jesus’ birth – celebrate His life and ministry – be fascinated – and give intellectual assent – to His Lordship – even be moved by it all –

But God wants more – He wants us to be one of His people – and to become part of His Kingdom –

In life we all draw our own – circle of experience and activity –

And when we are asked to step outside that circle we can feel anxious – sometimes afraid – like Mary –

Mary measured what had been asked of her – not against her own resources – but against God’s power – and was ready to let herself be used for God’s purpose.

we are asked to do the same –

If God can change the world through one small child – maybe with His help He can make a difference to our lives as well –


So are we excited about Christmas this year? –

Will Christmas herald in a new beginning in our lives

Many people believe Christmas is about children

Well it is – its about the children of God – you and me – and our relationship with Him –

God calls us –like Mary – to accept our part in His revelation – and to receive Him and reply in faith as she did –

God’s gift of Jesus is an event that happened in our history – through God’s love – and grace – and for our salvation – all He asks us to do – is – accept it with love and wonder at it all

Prayer to finish

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit