top of page
.jpg
.jpg
.jpg
MONTH OF DECEMBER, 2022

 TOPIC FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER:  FINDING HOPE IN A HOPELESS WORLD DURING CHRISTMAS, IS STILL POSSIBLE. 

Text: Luke 2:8-11, "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." 

It is an unchanging message in changing times. It is a message of hope in a troubled world without hope. It is the message of Christmas in a world intent upon taking Christ out of Christmas. It is a message for us Christians, who for now must live in such a world but are not a part of such a world.

One of the priceless treasures of God’s Word is this: People like you and I can turn our attention away from such a world and find peace and reassurance in the timeless message that the Word of God proclaims. Everything around people like us may be changing and falling apart, but when we get into the Word of God, its timeless message is like a rock of refuge in a storm-tossed sea. 

We are living in changing times, times that  are changing not necessarily for the better but to a large extent for the worse, times that are troubled and unsettling. Wars are being waged in the world. People in great numbers are having to flee from their homes to escape the fighting and are becoming refugees. People in many places have had to send their sons and daughters off to fight the battles. Cities on the home fronts have been attacked by terrorists and are being threatened with even more such attacks. In this world crime, murder, drugs, alcoholism, rape, immorality, greed, dishonesty, and political corruption in high places are running rampant. Economically times are hard and are even getting worse for many families. More and more marriages are ending up on the rocks of divorce and their families are being broken up like floundering ships on the shoals of sorrow.

Is it any wonder people look to Christmas as an escape from the drudgery of their everyday life? They can lose themselves in the glitter of the Christmas season. For a time their world can be a make believe wonderland removed from the troubles that depress them the rest of the year – a Christmas season complete with parties, merriment, food and drink, festive decorations and expensive presents, and even love and romance.

But when Christmas is over their Christmas-balloon will burst; then they will have to topple back down into the grim reality of obscurity. Often times depression and mental health issues will set in all over again – only worse than it was before. Then the suicide rate will soar. I submit to you that, if Christmas for you is nothing more than such a temporary escape into a world of make-believe, you also are without hope.

I have not reminded you of that dismal world in which we live to dampen the joys of Christmas for you, but to heighten the joy of Christmas for you. For Christmas is so, so much more. In contrast to the world of gloom you see and feel around you, the message of Christmas offers you hope. The message of Christmas can lift up your heart the whole year through. And here is where you can find that timeless message that is a refuge for the soul, peace for the mind, and hope for  heart. So listen to this: “Finding Hope IN A Hopeless World During Christmas, Is Possible. How?, For Christ, The Lord And Savior, Was Born. It is written, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 6:9.


About 2000 years ago a most amazing event occurred. And you are about to hear how it was first announced in this world. There were shepherds living out in the fields near the little town of Bethlehem. They were keeping watch over their flocks during the night. From what Luke wrote in the verses of this sermon text that night appears to have been a quiet, peaceful evening for the shepherds, who no doubt were a simple, poor people. But out of all of the people in the world, they alone were given the privilege to hear and to see what you can only long to have heard and to have seen.

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared before the shepherds. Nothing is said about the angel; not even his name is given. But that lack of information should not surprise you. For it was the message the angel had come to deliver that was important, not the angel himself. From what the Bible says about the Lord’s holy angels, you can assume the angel radiated a white light in the darkness of the night. There is the first instance, the message of God can bring light into a dark and hopeless situation. 

But the radiance of that angel was surely outshone by what else appeared to those lonely shepherds that night. For the glory of the Lord himself shown all around those shepherds. The Lord is repeatedly described in the Bible as being enveloped and surrounded by glorious light that dazzles the eyes. And at different times in history when the Lord was about to say or to do something of momentous importance with regard to his kingdom, he let a measure of his glorious presence be seen. And so his glory suddenly lit up the area all around the shepherds. For what the Lord had brought about that day, and he was about to have announced by his angel, was of the greatest importance.

The shepherds were terrified by what they suddenly saw. You would be also, if we, suddenly were confronted by a holy angel of God and by the glorious appearance of the Lord God himself. 

But the first words of the angel were reassuring. He told them, if i can paraphrase: “Stop being terrified.” They were terrified, but there was no reason for them to continue to be terrified. Time and again those reassuring words from the Lord and his angels are found in the Bible just before the Lord made known a gracious message assuring sinners of their salvation.

What was it that the Lord was announcing for the salvation of sinners like you and me? The angel proclaimed, “Today in the city of David a Savior was born to you, who is Christ the Lord.” The shepherds did not need to continue to be terrified, for the Lord had taken the steps to satisfy his wrath against sin and to establish peace between himself and all people. The Lord had taken the steps to save all people from being punished as they deserved for their sins. The Lord had caused a Savior of sinners to be born into the world. He was Christ, the Lord. He was the long promised and awaited Messiah from the time of Adam and Eve. He was the Lord himself, the son of God, who became a human being like we are. Read, John 1:1-34.

The fact that this Savior, who was born in Bethlehem, was the Lord, tells you a great deal about him and his attitude toward you, as well as all sinners. For the Lord told Moses in Exodus 34:6, 7 what his name “the Lord” meant, when he said about himself, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding  in love and faithfulness, preserving love for thousands, forgiving perversity and transgression and sin.” This Savior born into the world was that compassionate, gracious, loving, faithful, forgiving Lord. And he proved that was what he was by becoming a human being like us to save us all.

 

PART II

Now that is the message of Christmas that gives you hope. That is the message, the only message, that can calm your troubled, distressed, fearful heart in this world of gloom all around you. And that is the message of Christmas, the only message of Christmas, that can lift up your heart in joy all the year around – long after the Christmas tree lights have gone out and the Christmas wreaths have dried up.

You and I are among the sinners Christ the Lord came to save. Like Paul, let us also confess, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I myself am foremost.” But if we refuse to admit that we are a sinner, then we ought to be afraid that Christ did not come to save us. Take note that the Word of God says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we go on confessing our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Why should the Almighty God, who appeared to those shepherds and became one of us in the flesh, forgive us our sins? Because he is the Savior who has saved us from the punishment our sins have earned. The law of God had to be fulfilled, so he became one of us to keep it perfectly for us all. The law decreed that we sinful human beings had to be punished in hell for our sins, so he became one of us to suffer that punishment in our place. Because of what he has done for us, he forgives us. And that is the message of Christmas that gives you hope. For that is a message of joyful, good news for all people.

The angel of the Lord made that announcement when he appeared to the shepherds. Most reassuringly he told them, “Stop being terrified. For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The fact that Christ, the Lord himself, was born into this world was indeed a joyful message of good news. But that joyful, good news was not only for the shepherds, but for all people. And the angel foretold it would be joyful, good news for all the people.

That joyful good news of The birth of the Savior is for your ears and your heart too. You can be glad that the angel did not say his message about the birth of the Savior was for someone with your first name. For there are likely to be others who have the same first name as yours. That being true, you would have to be afraid that he meant one of those other persons and not you. But since the Lord had his angel say his message of good news was for all people, you can be certain with great joy that he meant you too. For you are a part of all people.

So this message of Christmas takes on a very personal meaning for you, as well as for the rest of us. For the Savior was not born for everyone except you, but for you as well. He is your Savior who was born into the world for you. He is your Savior who came to save you from the guilt of your sins and your punishment in hell. That is indeed good news for you. That is a message that can fill your heart with joy.

Now when the Christmas season comes to an end, people’s Jolly merriment that goes on in the world up through Christmas Day will also come to an end. Then the harsh reality of life will set in once again. For a great many people the troubles in this world and the hopelessness of life will engulf them all over again, and bring them down into the pits of depression.

Do not let yourself become one of them. Take this timeless message of Christmas with you in your heart. Let it  uplift your heart with joy all the year through. For the message of Christmas gives you hope. For it tells you Christ, the Lord and Savior, was born for you personally to save you and to give you life where there is no more of the troubles that you see you now in this world. Because of Christ what you see now is only temporary. So enjoy this Christmas and go into the coming new year with this message ringing in your ears: “Stop being terrified. For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people, for today in the city of David a Savior was born to you, who is Christ the Lord.”

​Amen.

Scripture Reading:

Isaiah 9:6 

 MONTHLY MESSAGES FROM THE PEN OF THE JURISDICTIONAL PRELATE (2023):

JANUARY

2022: JANUARY  |  FEBRUARY  |  MARCH  |  APRIL MAY  |  JUNE  |  JULY  |  AUGUST  |  SEPTEMBER  |  OCTOBER NOVEMBER  |  DECEMBER 

DECEMBER
bottom of page