This is the text of my Christmas sermon. Text in italics are quotes from Luke 2.
Just in case your Christmas shopping isn't done, or you need to get something extra for someone because they ignored limits or went over the top, I have a gift for you to give. It isn’t a two-pound bag of frozen lutefisk, but if that seems appropriate, there are some bags still in the freezer at Our Savior’s.
Actually, I’m going to tell you to give the gift given on the first Christmas morning. I’m not suggesting gold, frankincense or the ever-popular myrrh.
It is actually much worse than that. I’m asking to you share the Good News of the birth of Christ. Yes. I am suggesting that you re-gift.
Now, I have a problem with re-gifting, where you take a gift that someone gave to you and re-wrap it and give it to someone else. Personally, I have one exception – fruitcake. I think there really is only one fruitcake in the world and it is involved in a global game of hot potato. If you are in possession of the fruitcake at the end of the holiday season, you have lost.
But re-gifting the telling of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ has been happening since his birth. Look back at the passages you read from today’s lesson. Those of you who were angels told the shepherds this was good news.
I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
It is good news for everyone. The promised savior has come. The angels were even kind enough to describe how the shepherds would know who the messiah was. He would be the newborn baby wrapped in rags who has a feeding trough for his first crib.
Not exactly the way you would expect the Son of God to come into the world, but those would be sufficient identifiers to find the child and his parents. The shepherds used that information after the angels left.
Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.
So they went, with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the child was lying in the manger. Then what did they do? They re-gifted the Good News that the angels had given to them.
They made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
They even kept on re-gifting.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Now, I will admit that this is taking the concept of re-gifting and stretching it to fit this story. But it does fit. You receive a gift, a gift that was picked out with you in mind, a gift with special value for you. In this case, the gift of a savior was given for all people, but the news of his birth was given to those at the bottom of society, to shepherds. Had the heavenly host given the good news to the kings and queens, to the leaders of the Temple, to the powerful and wealthy, they almost certainly would have kept it as a gift for themselves. They would have thought they were entitled to this messiah. It would have been a sign of God’s favor.
But to those at the bottom of society, to the outcasts and the marginalized, gifts are meant to be shared because they don’t come around very often. You share your toys with others, because it is more fun to play with them as a group than on your own. You share the plate of brownies because they are too good to keep to yourself, and you can’t eat them all by yourself. OK, you COULD eat them, but you choose to share them.
The good news of great joy for all the people of the birth of the Savior was too good to keep to themselves, especially when the Christ was a newborn baby wrapped in rags sleeping in a food trough.
He did not come to earth in glory. He was born in a barn. He did not come to reward some & punish others. He did not come to divide and isolate, or to shun and hate. He came out of boundless love for all people.
He came to save all of us, to redeem everyone. Salvation came, not to those who thought they were worthy of God’s love, but to ALL of us. There is no one who is worthy of God’s love. We all sin & fall short. But we are beloved by God anyway, because that is who God is. God’s favor and love can’t be earned; we already have it.
Our Savior, the Messiah, the Christ, Our Lord was born in a barn to be united with those who are on the outsides, those for whom there is no room in the inn. He died a horrible death on a cross to be united with all of us, so that our deaths are not final.
This message of salvation was proclaimed to the shepherds, who proclaimed it over and over, sharing the Good News with everyone they met. That was the first exchange of presents to celebrate the birth of the Son of God.
The love of God through Christ Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving. It is the gift that should continue to be given to everyone we meet, and through all the world.
For you is born a Savior, who is the Messiah, Christ the Lord.
Merry Christmas and Amen.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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