Christmas – Midnight Mass – Sermon 327

23rd December 2019 Off By Derek
  • Christmas – Midnight Mass
  • 11.00 pm Tuesday HC CW
  • 24th December 2019

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                               AMEN


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? –

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        The Census and the Birth

Many Christians at this time of year turn to St Luke’s Gospel for the Christmas story –

Luke alone tells us the story of Mary and the Angel’s visit to her and gives us the wonderful Magnificat

Luke alone tells us the story of Simeon’s hymn of praise giving us the Nunc Dimitus

Luke alone tells us the story of the Angels appearing to the shepherds and how they visited the infant Jesus

And what makes it so amazing is that Luke is not a Jew but a Gentile –

The birth of Jesus begins with a pregnant Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem for a Census. 

Anyone who has travelled to a busy place will know about the problems of making room. 

If you have travelled to London by Train or to the coast on a Bank Holiday – you’ll know about crowds

Carriages full to overflowing – as the train pulls into yet another station – heaving with yet more people – or trying to find accommodation at the sea-side – realizing you should have booked in advance – seeing the same sign in every window – ‘no vacancies’

People of the house of David – or the line of David – had come across Judea to be enrolled in the Roman Census – cramming into every house – every guest room and Inn. 

Its difficult to imagine what Mary and Joseph must have gone through as they searched desperately for overnight accommodation. 

This experience of course – was a symbol of things to come – as Jesus found no room in the hearts of many as he tried to help and heal people’s hearts and lives –

We might think we are different – that we have opened the door of our lives to Him –  but the truth is that the door is only at best – half open  – we only allow Jesus access to the areas we want Him to reach – make room when it suits us – but at some of the most difficult times close the door to Him –

We leave Jesus knocking at the door – waiting to come in –

Fortunately for Mary and Joseph – although there was no room at the inn – a place was found – and Jesus was born – and wrapped in cloth and laid safely in a manger –

The manger referred to in the reading was an animal trough and although the reading doesn’t say whether there were animals there at the time – here at least Jesus was warm and dry –

The word for Inn – in the traditional translation has several meanings – and yes as tradition has it – it could have been a stable where they stayed – because Israelite families often kept their animals indoors at night on the ground floor while they slept on the first floor – it could also have been the ground floor of a house.

Wherever they stayed – here we are given a picture of God coming down into the mess and muddle of ordinary life – of God with us – experiencing one of the most vulnerable and dependent time of our lives – living in an accommodation fit for animals – not the start we would have expected from the one who came to save the world –

Point 2         The shepherds in the fields

Move forward then to the shepherds in the field –

When suddenly bright lights – and singing appears everywhere –

Most people never get to see Angels – or at least those of the non-human-kind – let alone hear them but I would imagine being ‘afraid’ or even ‘terrified’ would have been an understatement of what they actually felt at the time –

‘I am bringing you good news of great Joy for all the people – to you is born this day – in the city of David – a Saviour – who is the Messiah – the Lord

The people of Israel had been longing to hear of the arrival of the Messiah – the prophecies of Isaiah –  promised the Jews – that He would come – at the time when would God intervene –  on their behalf –  and the whole world would see God’s glory – 

and here the angel’s message – had proclaimed – to the shepherds – that this moment had come – and that salvation has broken into the world –

We can only assume that these poor shepherds – like other Palestinian Jews at the time – would have known what a Saviour –  a Messiah – a Lord –  meant – and that what they saw and were being told about – was not only something special –  but something they – would have to act upon –

‘you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth – lying in a manger’ –

There is no mention that the shepherds bringing any of their sheep with them – but seeing the child in that feeding trough would have confirmed to them – that this baby was who the angels were talking about –  and that what they were telling them – was true –

The arrival of the shepherds that night would also have been extra conformation for Mary and Joseph about who the child really was – which up to now would have been their own secret –

Unlike the other Gospels – Luke gives us these details – to remind us that the birth of this little boy – God’s Son – was in poor and basic surroundings –

He was to be looked after by an ordinary family who could only afford or find a place with the animals – who was heralded but recognized and acknowledged – not by Kings as in Matthew’s Gospel – but by shepherds – 

The story with the shepherds – is also a link to King David – a shepherd boy – who became a King – and from whose dynasty – this child was born into –

He is to become the shepherd of mankind – his ministry would not be amongst the rich or wealthy – but the poor and marginalized –

He would bring salvation – not to those who think they can buy it- or have a right to it – but to those who are prepared to humbly kneel before God – and accept Him as their Saviour.

The shepherds made known what had been told to them about this child – and all who heard were amazed –

They returned glorifying and praising God – about all they had heard and seen – as it had been told to them –

Point 3        Jesus came to save us all

God sent His Son Jesus – to come and tell us about Himself – and to show us what He is like and what He wants – us to become 

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

Jesus came to be a true example of God’s grace –

an illustration of God’s nature – and a blueprint for us to copy and follow

He came to live – and experience – our disappointments – our 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 –

Jesus was sent – to die for us on the cross – so that we can see the true cost of our sins – and to offer us forgiveness – paid for by His own blood

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

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

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 shepherds worshipping 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 doing for Jesus’ birthday this year?”

The greatest gift any one can receive is Jesus Christ – And the most important thing we can do for Him – this Christmas – is give ourselves –

In our Christmas celebrations – we might be warmed by the accounts of the Christmas story and Jesus’ birth – His life and ministry –

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 – but we too – like the shepherds – must be ready to respond to the coming of the Christ child – let ourselves be used by God – for His purposes-

If God can change the world through one small child – maybe with His help He can make a big 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 – it’s about the children of God – you and me – and our relationship with Him –

God calls us –like the people in Luke’s Christmas story – to accept our part in His revelation – and to receive Him and respond in faith as His parents and the shepherd’s did – To tell our story and experiences of the Christ Child –

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

Prayer:                           AMEN