Christmas: God's practical joke

January 3, 2020

 Sermon preached by Archdeacon Trevor Harrison at the Midnight Mass of the Nativity 25 December 2019

It’s a marvellous, wonderful, wise, loving practical joke.
Christmas! The Nativity!
There’s God, down through the centuries, listening to the prophecies
about the Messiah. Some of them were wonderful and beautiful and
spoke the mind of God.
Others thundered away about the Conqueror, the one who would come
riding on a white charger, with sword in hand, a leader that would be
better and tougher than King David.
So God gave them the gift they so badly needed. But not the gift they
It was King David the Second they wanted. It was a tiny baby they got.
He was born of the royal line, but to a peasant girl and her husband.
Mary &; Joseph: people of faith, trust and servant attitudes to God.


It’s a marvellous, wonderful, wise, loving practical joke.
Christmas! The Nativity!
The birth of Jesus Christ was not revealed to kings or rulers. It was not
revealed to the religious elite. When God came to earth, He let the world
know by announcing the birth of His Son to lowly shepherds.
Among Jews at the time of Christ’s birth, shepherds were held in very
low esteem. In the Talmud it is written that shepherds were not allowed
in the courts to be witnesses. In fact the Talmud instructs that no help be
given to heathens or to shepherds. Shepherds were despised because
they were unable to attend temple services and to keep the rituals and
ceremonial laws as their flocks kept them from practicing their religion.
So why the shepherds? Because God wanted the poor and outcast of
society to know that they were important too. God wanted the lowliest of
humanity to realize that His love included them, especially in a world
where they were normally excluded. God wanted all of us to understand
that the qualities of love, mercy, and compassion were to be extended to
everyone regardless of their social standing.


It’s a marvellous, wonderful, wise, loving practical joke.
Christmas! The Nativity!
Jesus was born in a manger. Jesus was born in a manger not a palace
– a borrowed room, never a place of his own and finally laid to rest in a
borrowed tomb.
Jesus was born in the depths of poverty and lived a life of poverty.
Jesus was born and lived in poverty so that He could reach those who
were poor in spirit and so the poor would know they were welcome; to
show that salvation was not a privilege reserved only for the fortunate
few, and to show that salvation could not be purchased at any price.
God’s people wanted power. So God gave them the power of
God’s people wanted a conqueror. So God gave them love that
conquers all.
God’s people got not what they wanted, but what they really needed.
That is why Christmas is God’s marvellous, wonderful, wise, loving,
practical joke.
The joke that comes back every year.

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