Thursday, 1 January 2015

Sunday in Octave of Christmas 28 Dec 2014 Sermon

Sunday in Octave of Christmas 28.12.14 Salvation

The days of the Christmas octave include two feasts of martyrs, St Stephen, and today, the Holy Innocents.

And today’s Gospel contains the prophecy of Simeon, which predicts a sword for Mary’s heart.

This all tells us that our Christmas joy must be, for a time at least, shared with suffering.

Salvation has come among us but it is going to take time and work for us to get to the final state of victory.

To save people is not so easy. The Kingdom is among us but it meets with great resistance.

This is why Jesus was required to suffer, right from the start of His life. Even as a baby someone was trying to kill Him. This is how welcome salvation is. Here is the Saviour: OK, let’s kill him?!

Herod was trying to hold onto his petty kingdom. Compare this with the happiness he would have had if he had simply submitted to Christ.

It just shows us how foolish human behaviour can be; how easily we put the wrong values onto things.

Salvation requires that we see things the right way up, giving the right value to each person or object in our lives. This has to mean that God is the most valuable presence in our life. We love Him more than we love anyone or anything else.

This is not so easy to establish, even for ourselves, let alone to induce others to do it. But we cannot settle for less.

We can try to bargain with God. I want forgiveness but I do not want to change the way I live.

We want God when it comes to asking for favours (rain, love, employment) but we do not want to obey Him.

He says: Sorry, if you are going to be saved by Me, you have to change the way you think, the way you live, the way you structure your whole society. For one thing, stop trying to kill My Son, and prophets, and unwanted babies, and anyone else!

So we seek salvation on His terms

There is a certain amount of discipline required of us. We have to wait too, as the Jews did, though with some difference. They waited for the Messiah to come. We wait for Him to be accepted.

There has been a furious battle for His credibility. People throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the Church, trying to distance themselves from the Saviour.

Not this man, but Barabbas, the mob cried. Much the same cry goes up today. Not this man to be our Saviour - because they fear they will have to go to church and clean up their lives.

So people look for other forms of salvation - like having the freedom to do whatever they like.

This is licentiousness, not the true freedom Christ brings. False saviours, false gods – blind alleys.

But if, through all the falsehood, we can manage to latch on to the Real Saviour then we will experience great joy and freedom – the freedom which enables us to have complete control over our passions and desires; enables us to keep God’s commands without effort because we want the same things He wants.

In the light of the demonic fury which greets Him we have all the more reason to celebrate that He has come. It shows us at whose mercy we would be if He had not come!

So we do celebrate His coming, despite all the suffering and disorder that is still in our world.

We have a child-like trust that no matter how many the problems the good is bigger and better.

There is something to celebrate here and it will get better. The Saviour is in our midst.

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