Sermon for Christmas Eve
Based on Titus 2:11-14
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
There is Something and Someone special about this season. We are gathered here tonight, hopefully because Jesus Christ is special to us. As the writer of our passage from Titus says: Jesus Christ matters—he makes a difference in our lives. His incarnation—his coming into this world as a human being, bone or our bone, flesh of our flesh, sharing all of our humanness, living, suffering and dying, all make a difference and matter to us. That’s why we’re here to celebrate tonight—isn’t it?
The curse of modern life, comments Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, is humanity’s decision that God does not matter….And the truth is that when we try to do without God, we collapse. When we cut the thread that holds us in living touch with the Unseen above us, we fall.
Is it a mere coincidence that, along with a decline in church-going, Bible-reading and prayer, there has gone an increase in drug-addiction and robbery, violence and fraud, child-abuse and divorce, murder and rape?1
When we look at the state of our world today, it is very easy to despair. The endless pursuits of our consumer-oriented society has led to spiritual bankruptcy on the one hand, and environmental, as well as economic disaster on the other. Here in Canada, a poll conducted showed that an increasing number of people have less hope for the future of our nation. What has our world come to? What has our nation come to? The fact is that the world, and all of us here tonight, need a Saviour now as much as at any other time in history.
God does matter! Only belief in God makes sense of life; only the rule of God ensures order and security in life; only trust in God gives purpose and meaning to life.2
As the writer of our passage from Titus says, Christ working and present in our lives really matters and makes a difference. In the midst of our “anything goes” society, Christ helps us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. Or as William Barclay translated it: we are to live life “prudently, justly, and reverently.” The passage goes on to tell us that Christ has also purified us so that we are: “a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds,” –“a people eager for all fine works”(Barclay).
The Christian life is anything but dull. It is meant to be an exciting adventure with meaning and goal. Only in serving others on behalf of Christ is there happiness and fulfillment. As Dr. Albert Schweitzer put it: “This I have learned deep out of my own time, the only happy ones among you are those who have learned to serve.”3
The birth of Jesus Christ, his sharing with us everything that is human, has made it possible for each of us to make a world of difference. No one can be a follower of Jesus and stay the same. His life does change our lives for the better. Here is one example, out of the pages of history, of how Christ was able to do just that.
Augustus Pugin, the early 19th century architect, is perhaps best known for his work in association with Sir Charles Barry in designing the Houses of Parliament on which he spent 25 years. He also designed cathedrals and churches all over England and wrote eight books—all this in a very short life. After his death a contemporary said of him, “He died at the age of 40 but in that time produced a 100 years’ work!
He was an outstanding example of the truth of the saying, “We live in deeds, not years.”4
Martin Luther once wrote: “This is the mark by which we know the birth of Jesus Christ is effective in us—that we take upon ourselves the needs of our neighbours!” The world is waiting for us to do just that this season and in every season. Right here in affluent Canada—supposedly the best place in the world to live, according to the United Nations—we have a tragically growing number of poor, homeless, and unemployed people. This is criminal in a nation such as ours. As Christ’s followers, what are we doing and what more can we do to turn these trends around?
May the joy, hope, love and peace that the Christ-child offers us, inspire and motivate us to go out into our world and make a difference by faithfully, enthusiastically carrying out the important work of caring for the needs of our neighbours, whoever and wherever they are—just as Christ himself has cared so superabundantly for our needs!
1 Cited from a sermon in: Expository Times, Vol. 98, 1986-87 (Edinburgh: T. &T. Clark) p. 50.
2 Ibid., p. 50.
3 Cited from: Augsburg Sermons: Epistles Series C (Minneapolis: Augsburg P. H., 1976) p. 32.
4 Francis Gay, The Friendship Book, 1989 meditation for March 21.
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