Fr David's Sermon
25th December 2005
‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ Is. 52.7
No longer does the messenger come over the mountains on foot. In the age of the electronic multi media the message is instant, coming via satellite or e-mail. Rarely is the message good, more often it heralds war & destruction rather than peace or salvation. As for any religious bit that is quickly dismissed as fanatical or cranky.
You don’t need me to tell you that 2005 has been dominated by bad news. I won’t depress you further by listing all the bad news, as I’m sure it’s at the back of all our minds anyway. Actually I suspect the news is really no worse or better than in many a year. It’s just that the media gives it an instant immediacy that was not possible in earlier times. By the time the messenger arrived on foot the news was old and inaccurate – not so these days.
For most of us news is bad when it is personal. I don’t know about you but many of our friends seem to have had a bad year at the personal level if their round robins are anything to go by. They read rather like hospital notes in some cases.
Into our modern world of bad news comes the Christmas Gospel. ‘Gospel ‘ is old English for good news. Despite our attempts to reject it outright or to bury hide it with materialism or sentimentality, Christmas remains good news.
Why? The answer is linked to the bad news, just as it was for Isaiah. Read his words more closely and you discover that his message offered hope to a people whose Holy City Jerusalem lay in ruins. Isaiah foresaw a time when God would intervene in the world as it is and bring about its salvation. Salvation is one of those religious words that can be a bit off putting. But think of all that needs mending in our world from Iraq to the garden fence, from the world of politics to your families and friends. Salvation is to do with its mending by God.
Why is the good news linked to the bad? - Because as St. John tells us the ‘Word became flesh & dwelt among us’. His words, drawing on the traditions of Greek philosophy convey the Christian belief that God has taken on our humanity in Jesus. God becomes flesh, meat if you like and shares in our human condition with all its sufferings. He enters a dark world as light and through his life & death we are enabled to enter a new relationship with him, if we accept the good news for ourselves.
When we hear again the stories of the birth of Christ as good news in a world of bad news our lives are transformed. There is no escape from the darker realities of life but there is hope of a way through to glory. Why? –
Because ‘the word became flesh & lived among us, & we have seen his glory, full of grace & truth.’
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