Dialogue sermon for Christmas Day - Year A

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David: Carolyn, what is Christmas all about?

Carrie: It must be about rushing around and spending money...

David: You've been working at Shopping Town?

Carrie: Yes I have! There is a lot of stress -- pressure on people to buy presents. The staff work long hours and feel the stress too -- and I've noticed a lot of attention to Santa.
-- Who has seen the big Santa with a sleigh and reindeers etc. outside Myer's? Hands Up?
-- Who has seen the nativity scene with Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus in a manger at Shopping Town?
It is in a dark corner underneath an escalator. There are no signs saying "this way to Jesus" as there are for Santa.

David: No star over the stable?

Carrie: No. Well what's the point of having this nativity scene with the baby Jesus, if Christmas is all about Santa? This brings us to ask what Christmas is really about. I thought it was mainly to do with Christ? Christ-mass? But the meaning seems to be hidden. -- under an escalator!

David: I suppose it was hidden, in a way, at the beginning too. The birth of a baby in a stable in small town. Only poor, insignificant, people would be born that way, you would think. The signs were not obvious to most people at the time. A few wise men came from the east and went to the palace in the capital city first, not the little town until later.

Carrie: Yes, and the shepherds, out in the fields at night -- they were very ordinary people -- and most people did not see the sign they saw -- we read it in the Gospel today -- about the angel:

And it goes on to tell about a sign:

David: They did see the sign -- the baby in the manger -- it was a sign of humility, yet he was the Christ -- the Christ or Messiah, we could say, is a kind of king, but it seems he was a humble king. Someone who lived with very ordinary people. Yet he really was a king, someone people called `Lord'.

Carrie: Lord -- King or Messiah, a great leader sent by God. The angel also said this baby was to be their saviour.

David: But, Carrie, what is a "saviour"? How do you understand it -- who this baby was?

Carrie: Matthew says in the passage we read in church yesterday:

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." -- Matthew 1:21

David: Yes, of course. The literal meaning of the name `Jesus' is `saviour', saying he will save people.

Carrie: Just as "David" means "beloved", and "Peter" means "rock" ...

David: .... "Jesus" means "saviour". As the angel said to Joseph: "... you are to name him Jesus, for he will save people from their sins."

Carrie: There is a hymn too -- in the first verse:
remember Christ our Saviour
was born on Christmas day,
to save us all from Satan's power
when we were gone astray,
and it's tidings of comfort and joy

David: ... Comfort and joy, comfort and joy! ... because "Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day"
Saviour -- How can we understand what it means? I suppose if someone is drowning and someone jumps into the water and pulls them out, they have saved them? That person would be a kind of saviour.

Carrie: It is also like a judge who paid the fine for the guilty person who happened to be his daughter.

David: Yes, or like someone who comes into a battle, takes our side and saves us from defeat. A champion like young David when he killed the giant. In fact according the Gospel, Jesus did overcome enemies for us: he drove out evil spirits, challenged prejudice, healed people, even raised some from the dead. We say he conquered sin and death.

Carrie: It wasn't just what happened long ago, it affects us now. We still need to be saved. There is evil in the world and we do sin, we sometimes choose to do what we know is wrong.

David: So what happened long ago, through this baby born at Bethlehem, has something to do with how we live today?

Carrie: ... but it's still hidden from most of us most of the time. The trouble is people find this idea of "sin" difficult.

David: Most people do not really think they are bad people. But sin is not just breaking a few rules is it?

Carrie: Its really about separation from God.

David: So God, because he cared about our relationship with him, had to do something to make it right again -- somehow to relate us again to himself, to reconcile us.

Carrie: And that was costly. We are thankful to God and celebrate Christmas because he paid a price for us to be reconciled to himself. The real meaniang of Christmas is found in what we remember at Easter, what happened later when the baby grew up, about how he died and rose again.

David: There is a cross in Christmas. Paul wrote about the humiliation of Jesus as the reason for his birth. He says of Jesus:

I like the way it goes on to honour him and praise him for the way humbled himself to the point of death:

Isn't that why we sing his praises at Christmas time?

Carrie: And the prophets foretold it:

David: So the humble birth in the stable was a sign of a humiliation for our sakes.

Carrie: Yes and that means that the challenge to us today is not so much to give as to receive.

David: ... to accept God's great gift to us.

Carrie: As the angel said:

David: Let us then praise him too: Hymn number 227
Hark! the herald angels sing
glory to the new born king
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.

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