Sermon at Christmas Carol Service by Rev Dr Sam Cappleman
A baby changes everything
I was at a wedding a few weeks ago and I happened to be speaking with another couple who had just had a baby a few weeks earlier.
They were delighted with the new arrival if feeling a little overwhelmed by new routines and responsibilities.
A baby, the mother said, changes everything.
As we look back on the birth of Christ that first Christmas we too are witnesses to the same thing.
A baby changes everything. In this case it was God who came among His people in human form in the form of the baby Jesus. Through the baby Jesus, the things which separated us from a relationship with God were removed. People would be released from anything that was holding them back from being the person that God intended them to be. Free to live a life as a new creation themselves.
For once he was born, everything changed. The life, routines and familiar regulations and ways of understanding life and God would never be the same.
At Christmas, a baby changed everything. The light of God had come into the world.
No longer could God be considered remote or not involved. Here He was, among us in human form.
And as the years went by and the baby grew and started explaining and demonstrating what the love of God was really all about, showed God’s care an compassion for the poor, the oppressed, those in authority and those without authority, the wealthy and the outcasts and put into practical action the things which had perhaps been spoken about in the past in the old ways of the law, life was changed.
And the close people got to Jesus the more they found things changed, for them, and for others.
That’s still true today.
But for some people, their experience of Jesus is perhaps like that of Joseph and Mary when they arrived in Bethlehem.
It’s not so much that there was no room for them at the inn, but that Jesus and the holy family didn’t seem to quite fit into the lives and space available of the people who were around at the time, what with all the other commitments and pressures that there were on their time and resources.
But Jesus was there, the baby had arrived even if He was put out of the way in the back room somewhere. The light had come into the world, even if it was in the outside shed with the animals.
But even while in that unremarkable place, others, such as shepherds and wise men, were invited to go and find out what was really happening, to see the light, and began to realise and understand what that might and could mean for them and the world. See how he might just fit into their lives and the way the understood the world. ‘I’m a wise man, I’ve got a busy life to lead without setting off on some wild goose chase’.
But as they went to encounter Jesus, fitted Him in, things began to change for them, things happened to them and others around them, as bit by bit, God in human form was revealed and history started to change.
Each Christmas that light comes again and we are reminded a baby changes everything. Each Christmas invitations continue to be offered to anyone who wants to come and draw closer to Jesus, encounter Him not just as a baby but as a Messiah and explore more of what God in their lives might really mean. In that sense, how a baby can continue to change the world. How it can change the world each one of us inhabits.
It’s an invitation to freedom and light. The light has come. And light always wins.
Think of a torch or a laser. It pierces the darkness. You can’t have a beam of darkness piercing the light – it just doesn’t work. But sometimes though it can take a little while for the light to travel to us, or perhaps we need to get a little closer to the light so we can see the full extent of the brightness. But the light will always win.
A baby changes everything, especially one who is the light of the world. It did then, and it still does today.
Rev Dr Sam Cappleman