A Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord
| Luke 2:1-20
||Tue, December 24, 2002
Rev. Ed Searcy
|“An angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them , and they were terrified.” Have you ever noticed that at the birth of Jesus and at the tomb of Jesus the story is the same. Commoners - shepherds and peasant women - find themselves addressed by an angel. They know it is an angel because of the glory that shines. And it is all terrifying. The glory of God is energy that is powerful beyond our imagining. In Canada we post signs next to power stations that say: “Danger: High Voltage”. In Britain they post signs that show a bolt of electricity pointing at a man who is lying on the ground. The sign says: “Danger of Death”. At Christmas and at Easter, At the birth of Jesus and at the tomb of Jesus we draw near to the glory of God. It is a time of wonder. It is also a time of danger, a time when the shepherds and the women are, rightly, terrified.
Because when the Maker of the Universe draws near to this earth what is to be found? Plenty of trouble, that’s what. Oh, yes, there is all manner of God-given beauty and wonder. But there is also too much ugliness and way too much violence. Humans overrun the earth, hording and abusing. It is not a pretty sight. Little wonder that when the glory of the Lord shines around the shepherds and the women they are terrified. This must surely be it. Judgement Day is here. Time is up. Right? Wrong. The angel’s first words are the same at the birth and at the tomb: “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid of the huge forces unleashed at the manger and on the cross. Do not be terrified of the high voltage glory because it is for healing and making new. “Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” The angel is a messenger of good news. Actually in Greek the text says that the angel brings “evangelion”. That’s right, the angel is an evangelical. Christmas, it turns out, is an evangelical season. And any who dare to believe the good news are rightly described as evangelicals. I know, I know ... this may come as something of a shock to those of us who choose a United Church on Christmas Eve precisely in order to avoid being in an “evangelical church” ... but it is true. The angel is clear - the message about the child is all good news, all gospel, all evangelion.
“To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” This is an incredible claim. It is no surprise that Christmas becomes a domesticated season of festivity. Since ancient times northern peoples have needed reasons for feasting and for light in the depths of midwinter. In our day it is little wonder that a post-Christian society removes the titles “Saviour, Messiah and Lord” from cards and songs and stories. In fact, this move of the culture away from the marking of Christmas as a particularly Christian season provides the church with huge opportunity. There is no need for us to whine and moan. Now we are free from maintaining cultural expectations, free to celebrate Christmas in our own odd and surprising ways ... ways that testify to the very different Kingdom that comes when Jesus is named Saviour, Messiah and Lord. Now we who glimpse the glory of the Lord at the manger are dared to live trusting that in him the True Light has come into the world and that the darkness of grief and of trouble and of evil will not overcome it. Now we are called to resist the well-trodden mass-market ruts of the world in obedience to the different ways of the Saviour, Messiah and Lord. This is the daring call of the church in the new dark age that looms ominously on the horizon. We are called to tell and to live the truth that is good news of great joy. In Jesus Christ we meet the one who saves us from unfathomable depths of despair and from rampant forces of greed and fear that threaten to destroy the earth, its creatures and its peoples. Go tell that on the mountain and in the board room. Go tell that in the class room and on the street. Tell that to neighbours and to strangers. But first, tell it to yourself. Yes, tell yourself that this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In Jesus the Saviour you are met by one whose ways can be trusted with our life. In Jesus the Messiah you are met by one whose path can be followed even in death. In Jesus the Lord you are met by one whose steadfast love will not fail you or forsake you. Do not be afraid. Go and tell.