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Everyday Miracles



GOSPEL READING:

Luke 2:22-40 - NIV

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.  He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.  When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.  And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.  She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.


SERMON

Merry Christmas. It is important to still wish each other a merry Christmas as well as a happy new year, because the season of Christmas still has a few days to go. Remember, there are, as the song says, twelve days of Christmas. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Christmas is not over with yet. It is still less than one week since Christmas morning. After one week, parents will know that babies are just sleeping, they don’t really start to get as active yet. It is like they are just gathering strength. And at this stage the infant Jesus would have been just the same. Sleeping like all babies do for the first week or so.

 

And today we read of the normal things that Jesus went through as a baby, like any baby did. He did all the baby things, and his parents did all the baby rituals. Our rituals today include ringing friends, or posting the information on Facebook, some people perhaps even still buy cigars and hand them out to friends. I don’t know where that one came from. Strange, really, when you think about it.

Why does the bible go to so much effort to tell us of the rituals that Jesus had to go through? Circumcision, dedication as he was the firstborn? It was important for us to realise, as Scripture tells us over and over, that Jesus was a real person, a normal baby. He had to carry out all the requirements of the law. He was a real baby. Not a super baby. It is so easy to forget this, and believe that he was a child, human flesh and bone, but with pure God inside. We must stress, time and time again, that Jesus was not just God inside, but was a real human baby as well.

Do you want evidence of how easy it is to believe that Jesus was a super baby, that there was something different that you could see about him? I go back, like I did last week to “away in a manger”:  “Little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes?” What rubbish. Of course he cried. He kept Mary and Joseph awake, as all babies do to their parents. And he threw up, and pooed in his swaddling clothes. All the things that a real human baby does. Because he was a real human baby. In every way, just as much as we are.


If we fall into this trap of believing that Jesus was a super baby, we fall into a heresy known as Docetism. We want Jesus to be a super baby and not just a baby. Then we want him to grow up to be a super child and not just a child. Then we want him to grow up to be a superman and not just a man. And pretty soon, we want him to be a super god who has a magic wand of a fairy godmother and not be the true God of the Bible.

Why do some Christians love Pentecost so much? Because there were signs, and wonders, speaking in tongues and flames on the heads of the disciples. This is super stuff! Now you can see some power, now you can see something exciting! This will make the world stand up and take notice! They can see something! Signs and wonders! This is called a theology of glory!


But remember the words of our Lord Jesus to Thomas: “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe.”

Blessed are they who believe that God comes through the plain and ordinary, the fully human person like baby Jesus. God was born to a plain and ordinary little fourteen year old girl. He was born in a stable, in a manger full of straw, with the smell of real, live animals in the barn. God chose the common and the natural, the humble and the ordinary, to express his love to us.


Simeon had been waiting for years, and he saw no super signs, or flames, or miracles or shows of power. He saw a baby, and he believed. Anna saw God in that baby and believed. They had been waiting, grinding through the everyday life of their faith, and it was in this that they received what they had been waiting for.

Oh, it would be nice to get a visit from angels telling us about God. You remember that the word angel means messenger? Who do you get your messages about God from these days? Sorry folks, no wings, no haloes. God uses another person as ordinary, as sinful, as normal as you (although that “normal “ part might be open for debate). But blessed are those who believe in spite of that.


But do you know what the miracles are to me? A miracle is a 15 year old walking up to someone who has come to a church for the first time and telling them their name, and asking the newcomer’s name, and welcoming them. No welcoming programs or special church campaigns needed, just a warm sincere welcome to a church that they are proud to belong to.


A miracle is a mother bringing her kids to church by herself every week because it is important to her, and seeing it become increasingly important to them as they grow.

A miracle is watching brothers or sisters with long-standing grudges over past dealings start to come back together and forgive and love and trust again, because they know that they a too are a sinner who needs forgiveness, and they dare not withhold it from each other.


A miracle is seeing someone who doctors feared would not make the helicopter trip to Brisbane come back and walk with a little help arm in arm with his wife and worship with us again, and bring tears to my eyes when they take Holy Communion together.

These are the everyday miracles from a super God.

 

We start another calendar year tomorrow. We go on in the tradition of the faith, a glorious tradition in which we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, holding steadfast to the message of the Apostles, proclaiming freedom for the captives, and the recovery of sight for the blind, proclaiming that this is the year of the Lord’s favour, pointing to Jesus Christ and him crucified.


 Like Simeon and Anna, we grind through the everyday life of the faith. We teach our confirmation classes, and we do our bible studies, and we meet as ladies fellowships, and we have parish meetings. And we pray, and we read our bibles, and we teach our children, just as the church has from the very beginning. And if no miraculous signs and wonders happen among us we will be okay, because we have the baby in the manger, true God and true man, and we have him crucified, and him risen again, and we have him beside us.

God is with us.

Immanuel.

 

And we believe. Lord, help our unbelief. Amen.

 

 

 

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