Christmas Day Sermon – 25 December 2012

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-16      Matthew 1:18-25

Children’s message

So here’s the test for today. What’s the most popular Christmas song people sing?

Rudolf the red nosed reindeer? Santa Clause is coming to town? I’m dreaming of a white Christmas? (In your dreams in NZ!!)

Here it is then – “WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS” (and a happy new year!).

So what makes a Merry Christmas? (Kids around the world)

I think the clue is in the rest of the song. What are the other verses? (Let’s look on the screen).

We wish you a Merry Christmas;

We wish you a Merry Christmas;

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;

Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer

We won’t go until we get some;

We won’t go until we get some;

We won’t go until we get some, so bring some out here

We Wish You a Merry Christmas it seems dates back to England in the sixteenth century. Carol singers we are told were often poor and at the end of their singing would add this song in order to perhaps get Christmas treats from wealthy members of the community. So they probably ended with this song! “We won’t go until we get some!” It was pretty yummy pudding not unlike modern day Christmas Puddings (Figgy pudding it seems had rum and not brandy!)

Now this does not mean that you should sing demanding songs to you parents. If you stand outside their door and sing “o bring/give us a hundred dollars – we won’t go until we get some” they will probably get a little fed up! It won’t work!

It does remind us that some people do have to almost beg to get things we take for granted. Like food. That’s why Boxing Day (tomorrow) has always been important! No silly – not for the sales! It’s for putting things in boxes for the poor! I hope you finished your Advent calendar which will help the poor!

And there is one way which we can persist? What does persist mean? Keep on asking! With God – he loves us when we keep on asking him in prayer to help us – and not give up!

The most Merry Christmas is the one where we ask Jesus into our hearts!

MESSAGE

There are two lovely things about this passage. Matthew’s matter of fact account begins:

Mat 1:18  This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about:

He tells the story. Haven’t we heard it so often before.  Nice Mary. Noble and obedient Joseph. O my. Life is much more complex and stressful than that.

This lovely romanticised story has the elements of intrigue, doubt and disaster.  And in the midst of the potential for disgrace, danger and death (they are soon running for their lives) two words from God shout out to us.

The first – via an angelic messenger:

“… you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (verse 21)

The second – the Word of God recorded by Matthew himself quoting the prophecy:

Mat 1:23  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel“—which means, “God with us.”

He roots the story in the Old Testament – as he gives his gospel account aimed at Jewish readers:

Isa 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

1. His name Jesus

2. His other name – Immanuel

1.     His name Jesus

The real name of Jesus is YESHUA- or Joshua. It means God saves, our Yahweh (The Lord) saves.

That’s the whole point of his coming – to rescue us from ourselves and our sins. And our mess and troubles.

If you’ve ever met someone who has been rescued – from a dangerous place – you know the sense of gratitude they have!

We should be grateful – thankful – and always praising Him for what he did to save us!

2.   His other name – Immanuel

Again it’s not English – or Afrikaans – or Korean or Chinese! It’s a Hebrew name or title.

Literally “with us is God”.

God with us is the best news of all!

He is still with us!

He didn’t just come in like a superhero and then jet off into space like superman! When he left earth as a human being – He promised to be with us always! And then He came back through His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.

He is with us all the time! That’s what keeps us going!

And even when we die we will be with Him because he will be with us then too!

King David reminds us in Psalm 23 reminds us:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… (verse 4)

If He is not real for you – this Jesus Immanuel – God saves and God with us – what can you do about it today?

Keep on talking to Him – asking Him to become real to you – persist – like the carollers singing about the Figgy pudding – “we won’t go until we’ve got some!”

Hang around with God – spend time with him and his people – read his book which tells us all about him –  and we will understand Jeshua – Immanu – el – the one who makes it all worth living!

I had a conversation recently with someone about this reality of God – the person felt that God did not answer his prayers – that there was no reality. He was knock knock knocking on heaven’s door and not getting an answer!

The bible verse that came to mind immediately and which I shared with him was this onein Jeremiah 29:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

And guess what the verses are before this one: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (11-13)

So I want to leave with you today the Figgy pudding solution.

You can really get to know this God – if you hang around – not give up – but seek him with all your heart.

Like those carol singers who sang:

We won’t go until we get some; We won’t go until we get some;We won’t go until we get some, so bring some out here

Figgy pudding persistence

Figgy pudding prayers

Figgy pudding power – is not in the rum and lovely yummy ingredients. I love Christmas and the food is yummy and it is a Merry time. The real power is in knowing God.

My wish for you is more than a Merry Christmas – it’s the Christ Jesus and knowing him in reality that is my wish for you.

Amen.

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About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on December 25, 2012, in Sunday Morning Sermons and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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