by Daniel Harrell
So during this week’s Christmas sermon block, I wondered on my Facebook status update what else there remains to say about the manger. Thanks to those of you who posted ideas, including Simon’s comforting reminder that since everybody loves the nativity story already, Christmas sermons are the easiest to deliver! The weather outside may be frightful, but the certain hope and peace embedded in Christ’s birth is delightful――not to mention indispensable―― especially this Christmas as our Dickens-like economy threatens to make poor Bob Cratchits out of everybody. Needing a familiar, strong dose of yuletide hope, I went to my files to fetch a favorite manger sermon from Christmas past, only to discover to my surprise that I had none. I’ve never preached a sermon from Luke 2.
This is ironic, of course, since by far the most crucial aspect of the Christmas story is that God came to earth as a real live baby. Think about that for a second and it can still your mind. Rather than swooping down in Superman-like fashion from planet heaven to save the world, the Holy Spirit impregnates a poor, unmarried teenage girl who gives birth to a son. Totally helpless, unable to eat or turn onto his back without assistance, surely crying and needing a diaper change, utterly dependent on the creatures he created. Mary cradles God in her arms, the one whom heaven’s armies herald as Savior, Christ and Lord――the answer to ransom captive Israel’s prayers.