Robert’s sermon from 30 Dec 2018

The Wonder and Relevance of the Incarnation to us in 2019

For a minority in our country the answer to such a question is simple:

Jesus Christ!  

Not according to Mark’s & Spencer’s, along with other major retail outlets who would have us believe that what will make our festive season magical – ranges from gourmet food and drink to exquisite lingerie.  With all the professionalism, passion and subliminal subtlety of advertising so many buy into that. No doubt paying for it in January and for the remainder of the year – until it all comes around again! Do you believe that?  Sadly some do!

Many have bought into the seasonal sentimentality.  Rather than standing in awe of the incarnation people have come to admire and embrace the material and not the maker of all things.  The One “from whom comes every good and perfect gift.” In the mind of so many children it is not: “thank you for Jesus” but for “my computer, iPad, mobile, bicycle etc.”  For many of us as adults it’s become time not so much to worship and exclaim: “love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life my all.” Rather, it’s to fuss about searching for the right kind of holiday, securing the right kind of outfit for the partying, supplying enough food and drink to really ‘chill’ and about setting as sacrosanct the times of television programmes to be viewed.

According to Philip Pullman, author, it’s about “family, mostly.Children, grandchildren and presents and food and drink.” A C jGrayling, philosopher, says: “In my grumpy moods, Christmas means a never-long, overeating social week of interruption to the business of life; in my more laid-back moments it means a way of lightening the darkest days of Winter…” A recent article in The Huffpost that interviewed 15 notable atheists carried a similar comment even though some still enjoyed the story and regarded it as that – a story! This is no new phenomenon.  Paul saw this problem in his time and argued it was why men would be without excuse in the judgement. “Professing to be wise they became fools…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”


Coming back to simple basics: what makes Christmas magical, enthralling, enchanting to use the words of the advertisers?  The answers are very special!

[1]  A moment in history is reached – “when in the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son…”  Messiah, God’s promise, has arrived in all the mystery and majesty of the moment.  A moment at which the Son of God, who existed eternally with the Father as “the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of his nature” took on human nature and became man.  A moment arrived when in the baby/man named Jesus “all the fullness of deity was pleased to dwell.” All the chronology of the OT that spoke of this moment is fulfilled.

[2]  A mission in human history is commenced!  The one who was rich but for our sakes had become poor was so aware that his coming will see him sink even lower than a feeding trough in Bethlehem.  It will see him led to a cursed death upon a Roman cross; a cross on which he will bear away in his own body our sins. Little wonder his name was to be Jesus: “for he will save his people from their sins.”  Principal Macleod puts it movingly: “what did the angels think of it all? One day they blinked in astonishment as they saw their great creator in a manger in Bethlehem. They must have found the spectacle incomprehensible.  Then as the days and years moved on they saw a drama unfolded which must have overloaded every circuit in their computers…Gethsemane…his suffering…his Father forsaking him…The God whose whole impulse was to take away the tears from the eyes of his people not washing the tears of his own Son!  The angels must have been saying, ‘will it never, never end?’ The words of the hymn capture the challenge of it all to our minds: “and when I think that God his Son not sparing, gave him to die, I scarce can take it in.”

[3]  A message to the world in all ages is proclaimed!  Do not misunderstand me.  There is not a lot wrong with so much of what we enjoy around the festive season.  I’m sure you and I love this time of year as much as the next person. My only caution is to have the question asked: is it Jesus who really makes it magical?  His coming was to mark the beginning of a much needed message of hope.  It was indeed good news to all people.  Of hope because he had come to serve and give his life a ransom.  Of hope for in Him and through Him multitudes without God and without hope might discover it.  He came to touch a very human longing! He will communicate the truth that He is the only one who can fill our lives with all that is needful and meaningful for time and eternity.  He still speaks to us who so often are duped and blinded: “I am the Way the Truth and the Life…I am come that you might have life and life that is abundant.”  It is Jesus who offers that and not our reputed national retail outlets.  Trust Jesus!  Trust him. Trust him with your life.

[4]  A power for the miraculous is unleashed!  Long ago it was asked whether anything good could come out of Nazareth?  The answer then and nows remains the same: “come and see!”  E.g   Shepherds stirred and shaken went to see…  Wise men came and saw…Woman at well – ¨come see a man who told me…  With Jesus, from the beginning, this was to be the potential – sick healed, marginalized dignified, ignorant taught, lives transformed, addicted liberated, embittered infused with joy, shamed forgiven, marriages restored, orphans embraced, persecuted for Christ’s sake given grace and the Church despite the odds of survival – growing: “the gates of Hell not prevailing against it.”  This is our key to survival in Argyll letting this message unashamedly go out.

Message that continues to carry power and potential – ¨There is power wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb¨  Do you know that Jesus is still sharing this power?  He is still transforming, forgiving and dignifying humanity.  He continues to offer what our retailers cannot: life even life that will never end.

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