Zephaniah 3:14 -20, Luke 2:1-14
December 19, 2021 / CAN
Rev. Shihoko Warren
Our youth and children, thank you so much for preparing and leading today’s Christmas service!
Since children are joining the entire service today, I will keep my homily short and simple.
Today, I will talk about only 2 points in the Christmas message.
1) The reason why we celebrate Christmas – Jesus’ name:
The first point is about the reason why we celebrate Christmas.
I think everyone already knows this, but I will ask you a simple question: Whose birth do we celebrate for Christmas? Yes! it is Jesus Christ! For more than 2 thousand years, people have celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. Even today, look around your town and city, here in the city of Vancouver too, people are celebrating Christmas, with Christmas trees, beautiful lights and decorations, delicious food, and thoughtful presents for others.
Probably, not all people know the true reason why we celebrate Christmas.
Do you know why we celebrate Jesus’ birth?
The reason is very simple. You can find the answer in His name.
Do you know the meaning of name ‘Jesus’? The name ‘Jesus’ is taken from the Hebrew name ‘Yeshua’, or in English, ‘Joshua’. The meaning of this name is “God saves”.
In the Gospel of Matthew (1:21 & 23) , an angel told Jesus’ parent, Joseph “to give the baby the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (v.21) The angel also said: Jesus will be called ‘Immanuel’ (Emmanuel) (which means ‘God is with us’).” (v. 23)
Now you know the meaning of the name ‘Jesus’. ‘Jesus’ or ‘Joshua’ means ‘God saves’. Immanuel means ‘God is with us’. So, Jesus is the Saviour and He is with us!
Jesus was born to save us and to be with us forever! That’s why we celebrate Christmas!
Christmas is the sign to all people that God loves each and every one of us, so much. God desires to be with us so closely and for all eternity. That’s why God’s Son, Jesus was born among us!
Dear children, youth, and all adults here, please remember that God deeply loves you no matter what! Please remember that each and every person is uniquely created as God’s masterpiece to reflect God’s glory. The Saviour is always with you and will never abandon you or forget you!
Today’s bible passage from Zephaniah 3:14 & 17 says: “Be glad and rejoice with all your heart! The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty God who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love, he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Christmas is a special time to remember that God loves you, God delights in you, and God who saves is with you for eternity!
This is the good news of Christmas! Let’s read again today’s Luke chapter 2: An angel of the Lord said to shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (v. 10 -12)
I want all of you to remember the 1st point of this Christmas message. Jesus’ birth, His death on the cross and His Resurrection are the signs of God’s perfect love for you and all humankind. Christmas is the sign that the Saviour, Jesus Christ is with you all the time for eternity.
2) Our call – how we live:
The second point of this Christmas message is about how we live in our life.
Can anyone say all names of the advent candles? Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, and Christ.
I want all of you to remember all these 5 words: ‘hope, peace, joy, love and Christ’! Because these 5 words are so important! It is not only the central Christmas message, but also the key for the whole Bible and Christian teaching. These 5 simple words are also the meaning of our human life! There are so many philosophers and smart people who have been trying for centuries to find the purpose of human life. But actually, you can find the answer in these 5 simple words.
Please always remember that Jesus Christ is our hope, peace, joy, and love!
This simple sentence is all about the truth!
It is because the Saviour, Jesus was born among us, He brought the good news of God’s Kingdom (Heaven) for all people, He died on the cross for all people so that they will be saved from all sin, evilness, and death. On the 3rd day, He was resurrected and is alive now and for eternity, and Jesus Christ will come again!
That’s why the angel told the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”.
Do you know what the shepherds did after they heard the good news from the angel?
Let’s continue to read more of Luke chapter 2: “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (v. 15-18, 20)
The Shepherds went to seek the Saviour. When they met Jesus, they shared the good news with others. They also glorified and praised God!
Christ’s hope, peace, joy, and love are invincible. Even in the midst of troubles and sufferings in the world, Christ’s hope, peace, joy, and love never fail.
I want to share an example of how Christ’s hope, joy, peace and love conquer everything.
When my son, Joshua was born in September 2001, the world was in great uncertainty and very chaotic because the 911 incident had just happened.
At that time, even the Tokyo area where we lived, had some of the worst typhoons, floods, and landslides, just like the BC floods and landslides last month. (In Tokyo, 8 people died, about 1,800 houses were affected by floods and landslides)
At that time, some people said to us that it must be so sad and heartbreaking that your baby was born in such a chaotic and hopeless world. However, I can never forget the birth of our son, because it was so holy and full of God’s glory, even though the world seemed to be in such chaos. I was filled with God’s joy, peace, hope, and love which I knew, never changes no matter what! One person’s birth and life is God’s miracle and it is so sacred and reveals the glory of God!
Emika chan was also born amid the pandemic where the world has been unstable and uncertain. Nevertheless, her birth, her life, and her existence have brought God’s unfailing love, joy. peace, and hope to her parents, family, and to our church community.
It is the same for everyone here today. Your birth, your life and your existence are actually to reveal God’s love, peace, joy, and hope to the world!
The Gospel of John describes Jesus’ birth as “the true light shining in darkness”. It says: “In Jesus is life, and that life is the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (1:4-5)
Nothing can separate us from Christ’s peace, hope, joy, and love. Even death cannot take them away from us! Even if we are in a terrible situation, we, Christians can still keep Christ’s ‘peace,’ ‘hope,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘love.’ We can shine the light of Christ, when the world is in the darkness of despair. We can share Christ’s peace, hope, joy, and love with those who suffer from trials and lost. Let us never give up sharing the true light of our Saviour Jesus Christ, especially in times when the world and people are in great need.
In conclusion, let’s remember the 2 points of today’s Christmas message.
1st point: Jesus’ birth, His death on the cross for us and His Resurrection from death is the sign of God’s love for you and all humankind. Christmas is the sign that our Saviour, Jesus Christ is with you all the time for eternity.
2nd point: Jesus Christ is our hope, peace, joy, and love! Our life is to be like the shepherds, worshipping our God, being witnesses of Jesus Christ, sharing Christ’s hope, peace, joy, and love with others.
“In Jesus Christ is life, and that life is the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Amen!