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Sunday 21st January 2018 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Third Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

Sunday 28th January 2018 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant: Rev'd Nathanial
Preacher: Jack Noonan

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25th December -Christmas – Rev’d Nathanial BM

Readings: Luke 2.1-20, Isaiah 62.6-12 and Titus 3:4-7

How many of you went shopping ‘gifts’ for your friends and family? With the coming of Christmas, we make lists of gifts that we have to get for our near and dears one. And, sometimes, our children make a list of the gifts they wish to receive on this special occasion. While writing this sermon I was reminded of a song that my babies often watch on the Internet these days – the 12 days of Christmas my true love gave to me and it made me think how good those gifts are but nothing compared to the gift that God has given to us at Christmas. In John 3:16 as we all know; it is written that ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son’ and Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:15 writes Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!.

Paul had the greatest theological mind and yet he calls God’s Christmas “gift” – indescribable. No one on this Earth can match the indescribable person – Jesus Christ. There is absolutely nothing to compare with this Gift that you and I have received, my dear friends.

In today’s Gospel Reading we see that Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger.

We beautifully wrap the gifts.. Don’t we? Gift wrapping is an art in itself. Here we have our indescribable gift.. strangely wrapped..

1) The baby comes wrapped in Isaiah’s prophecy..
How do you wrap an indescribable gift? What do you use? Mary wrapped him in bands of cloth. God, while preparing the people, for receiving the gift of His Son, wrapped him in the powerful prophetic voice of Isaiah. In today’s Old Testament reading, we see, it’s given – See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.’ Isaiah in another chapter calls him – Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore.
2) The baby Jesus comes wrapped in history
In the GOSPEL Reading we see that – In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. That’s how you wrap an indescribable gift. You wrap Him in undeniable history. The census records that there is no myth involved, no story that we read but a true account of the God coming down as a man on the Earth. John writes – The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

3) For many people, the baby, comes wrapped in mystery
We can’t leave out the mystery. If you take away the mystery there’s nothing indescribable about him. We have a prophetic word from Isaiah and other prophets, saying, “The Messiah is coming; be ready. God’s gift is about to be delivered without compensation. God became man. . Undiminished deity took upon himself perfect humanity and, linking the two natures together in one personality housed in one unique body, the God-man was delivered. No less deity. No less humanity in one person, in one body. That is a mystery.

4) The baby comes wrapped in the hope of eternal life..
In today’s New Testament Reading, Titus chapter 3, we see that the baby is the evidence of God’s goodness and loving kindness and is wrapped in the hope of eternal life. While reading John Stott, I came across something I would like to share with you.. ‘There is nothing that can be compared with this message of God who loved, and came after, and died for, a world of lost sinners’. Our God’s love is indescribable and so is his Christmas gift.

That’s why the Christmas story is to be repeated in God’s words time after, time after time. Because that’s the only way men and women will believe the prophecy, the history and mystery that surrounds that baby.
God’s good news or indescribable gift is for everyone. For the working-class, even impoverished shepherds possessing virtually nothing, and later for the majestic magi possessing wealth, power and prestige. And God’s gift is for you and me.
I wonder what happened to the shepherds after this night. Obviously they were changed. But they still had their work to do. Their position in society did not change. But I believe, they told everyone they could about their glorious experience. And they continue to bear witness through this account in Luke 2, year after year.
You and I have probably never seen an angel stand before us, we have not heard heavenly angels sing praise to God. Or maybe we have and did not even realize it. Nevertheless, we have been given the good news/ God’s gift. Jesus has come, our Savior, our Messiah, our Lord. After the holidays, when we get back to our routine, whether it involves shepherding sheep or not, how will this reality change our life? Who will you tell about it? Who will see this Jesus in the way we live our life? I would like to encourage each one of us; let us try to describe some of the qualities of this indescribable gift wherever we are this Christmas and this new year.