Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Christmas Sermon ( 2)

Madonna and Child, Bernini, 1640s, Web Gallery of Art

......and he shall be called the prince of peace.

I speak to you in the name of the one Holy and undivided Trinity, Father +Son and Holy Spirit.

To many, Advent is no more than a period in which we do our Christmas,shopping, attend the many parties and celebrate the holiday which is all but,over by the time Christmas day itself has arrived.

For those who practise their Christian faith with some greater dedication to the spiritual preparation, Advent has been a valuable time to look at how we lead our lives and how the Nativity is the fulfilment of a promise made to us so long ago.

To some it might seem innocuous that late on during the Advent period the Holy Catholic Church celebrates what is called the Immaculate Conception, a feast which for some Anglicans and many Protestants feel has no place in the church's life let alone in Advent. In this we are reminded that the holy mother of God was born without stain of sin. At first glance it may appear that their is no Biblical authority for this. However, Christmas is about the fulfilment of a promise by God to his people that he would send his Son (or more accurately if we try to understand the nature of the Holy Trinity) come himself to guide mankind and show the wayto eternal salvation of our souls.

Did God wake up one morning and say, "I think I'll send my Son to Earth in about nine months time, let's find a suitable mother?" That seems both silly and rather unlike the ways of the Eternal God who transcends all time and exists in infinity.

If we look back into the prophecies and particularly those of Isaiah we find most clearly that God made this promises very early on and repeatedly where the concept of God with Us (Immanuel) was always present. The Messiah, the anointed king of all the world was so clearly given to us in God's promise, his covenant with mankind.

As Christians we acknowledge that God has always been and always will be -- the creator living in Infinity which has no beginning and no end, a picture painted again in the new Testament when describing God as the Alpha and Omega.

It may be easier however to see God in the pictorial sense of a circle which has neither start or finish. In this way we can accept that living in an infinite existence allows God to know the past and the future in a way no human person can. As a consequence of this God must know but not necessarily direct what will happen in all life. So when Mary the mother of Jesus was born her future would be known already to God and the nature of her birth would indeed be such that her conception would herald the very start of what we now celebrate as Christmas - the two seem to be inexorably connected.

Amongst all the decorations and Christmas commercialism there remains the single and most poignant truth, that God fulfilled his promise and sent to us through a human mother himself as a man. Jesus is the example of the peace-bringer and yet the world in so many places rejects what he taught us that by a Christian life we are led to peace.

In these troubled times may we constantly look on Jesus and his teaching and find the way to peace between individual and nations.

May God bless you and your dear ones this Holy Christmas.

Dom Jonathan Webster, Order of Port Royal Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Nativity Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

"I behold a new and wondrous mystery!

My ears resound to the shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but loudly chanting a heavenly hymn!

The angels sing!

The archangels blend their voices in harmony!

The cherubim resound their joyful praise!

The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead herein... on earth and man in heaven. He who is above now, for our salvation, dwells here below; and we, who were lowly, are exalted by divine mercy!

Today Bethlehem resembles heaven, hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and, in place of the sun, witnessing the rising of the Sun of Justice!

Ask not how this is accomplished, for where God wills, the order of nature is overturned. For He willed He had the powers He descended. He saved. All things move in obedience to God.

Today He Who Is, is born ! And He Who Is becomes what He was not! For when He was God, He became man-while not relinquishing the Godhead that is His...

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him angels, nor archangels, nor thrones, nor dominions, nor powers, nor principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His incarnation has He ceased being God. And behold kings have come, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven; Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of childbirth into joy; Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin...

Infants, that they may adore Him who became a little child, so that out of the mouths of infants He might perfect praise; Children, to the Child who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod; Men, to Him who became man that He might heal the miseries of His servants;

Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd who was laid down His life for His sheep;

Priests, to Him who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek;

Servants, to Him who took upon Himself the form of a servant, that He might bless our stewardship with the reward of freedom (Philippians 2:7);

Fishermen, to the Fisher of humanity;

Publicans, to Him who from among them named a chosen evangelist;

Sinful women, to Him who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant woman;

And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! Since, therefore, all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice! I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival! But I take my part, not plucking the harp nor with the music of the pipes nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ!
For this is all my hope!

This is my life!

This is my salvation!

This is my pipe, my harp!

And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels and shepherds, sing:

"Glory to God in the Highest! and on earth peace to men of good will! "