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Sunday, 5 January 2020

'GOOD NEWS OF CHRISTMAS MORNING'

Rev. Brian Wilkie


By Rev. Brian Wilkie                                                                                  
Pastor of St. Andrew's Christian Community
Rockland, Ontario



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PODCAST LINK for Sunday, January 5th, 2020:
http://proxy.autopod.ca/podcasts/chum/6/10378/good_news_032_dec23.mp3
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(This is a re-broadcast of a Program first aired on CFRA, December 23rd, 2012.)

Broadcast Notes:
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‘Good News of Christmas Morning
Segment 1: This program is sponsored by the Good News Christian Ministries, 96 Pheasant Run Drive, Ottawa, ON  K2J 2R5, Canada, (new address). This is Brian Wilkie speaking.
Today our theme is “Good news of Christmas morning
 
You know our show is called good news in the morning, and there are two mornings in all of history that stand out as “Good News.” The morning of the Resurrection, when Mary found Jesus risen from the dead, she spread the good news to the other disciples. The other morning is what we celebrate at Christmas, the birth of the Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 
I want to read to you from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, about that first evening and morning when Christ was born.
 
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest,  and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  (Luke 2:1-20, NIV)
 
Now would you listen with me to a carol written and performed by Carolyn Arends “Come and See “ from her Christmas Album, “An Irrational Season.”
 
Segment 2: (introduction of Message)
 
The Good news of Christmas morning is good news indeed. It is not just about a baby being born, it is about the Son of God, coming into his creation to save the world, given to us for our salvation. From the very beginning of the prophecies concerning the Christ, it is emphasized that saviour came to give his life to deliver us from sin. And so as we celebrate Christmas morning, it needs to be celebrated in light of Jesus gift.  He came “not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom to many.” Now how can we say that Jesus dying is good news? We can say it because he accomplished what he came to do. He came to take upon himself the burden of our sin in this conflict that has spanned the ages from the first human to the present day, In this conflict between humanity and God has decide to bear the pain, sorrow and wickedness of humanity upon himself. He has decided to cancel the debt against us, and he invites us to come to him and receive a new life, a life that lives out the holy goodness of God overcoming sin with all its pain. What good news this is! We often find ourselves burdened but in this season of Christmas we remember the great promise and purpose of God to bring joy and peace to his earth.  Just last week as I participated in the Capital City Chorus Christmas Show, and it is just a delight to sing and hear the stories of Jesus birth, and life and love. And it is wonderful that in your churches you are celebrating with pageants, carols, cantatas and communion, with beautiful music and candle light, feeling the joy and the love of God’s gift.
 
Isn’t it a gift to be able to gather together with others, and feel the warmth that God intends for us to have eternally. Let’s not forget those that in their relationship with God who find this season difficult. How is it good news for them, as they face loneliness, while others join with family, who face need while others celebrate abundance. Who face loss, illness, or financial crisis while all the world seems to smile and laugh? How is it good news for them?
It is good news that God overcomes all these things, so that someday all these burdens will pass... But I’d like to challenge you, our listeners, and challenge myself with the challenge of the Gospel, that we should share God’s blessing with others,  by offering  our love, compassion, generosity and hope to others who are troubled. Whether the troubles are circumstantial- financial, loss of employment, stress, or personal illness, emotional hurt or physical injury, or loneliness, distance from home, or mental distress, let’s ask ourselves- or better yet let’s ask God, how we might bring some light into  another’s life this Christmas. 
 
I’m sure that if we just take a little time to pray, God will show us something extra-ordinary for another. And by extraordinary, I don’t mean something grandiose, rather just something beyond your normal Christmas routine. It might be a telephone call you’ve been putting off, or sending a card to someone you haven’t written to in a long time. It might simply mean listening a little more carefully when you ask someone how they’re doing, and they say they’re fine.
 
This Christmas can be good news for more people; this Christmas must become good news for more people.  What we do as Christians to celebrate Christmas is so different than what the world does. It might be alright for others to think only of their joy, their comfort, their own kin and their own friends; and we do that as well, but the Lord we worship calls us to a wider, greater love. Jesus taught us to go beyond loving only those who love us, and to reach out to those who cannot repay us.
 
We can help to make Christmas good news for others. And as we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit, we can become people who find our joy in bringing blessing to others. Is this the difference that Christ is making in you?
 
Let’s think about that as we listen to the beautiful hymn Silent night, sung by the Cape Breton Chorale.
 
Segment 3: (Conclusion of Message)
Now I want to change direction somewhat and talk about the meaning of Christmas and the sensibility of the events. I this day and age there is abundant criticism and attack on the historic record of Christmas and the life of Jesus. There are people who dispute the every miraculous event, every teaching of Jesus, and the nature of the God revealed in Scripture.  Christmas reminds us that God has made his nature and power very clear. He is a God who spans the heavens and the psalmist can say “the earth is his footstool,” yet he can also declare “what is man that you are mindful of him?”
 
There was a book written in the 1960s, by J.B. Phillips, titled “Your God is too small.” The theme of the book was to address those who thought of God in very narrow parochial ways: who merely confirmed their own attitudes, prejudices and concerns. For such people their god is not big enough to change their lives. Their god can be just a national mascot, or just a reflection of their own culture.  And Dr. Phillips was right, that it is possible to believe in a God who is too small.
 
But at Christmas we see that for some, their god is too big. What do I mean by this? We have people today who have become overawed by their knowledge of science and the universe, and think that they are the first generation to appreciate how immense the universe is, and how small our planet, and our species is in the grand scheme of space and time.  It is true that our solar system is too small to be visible in a model of our galaxy, and that our galaxy can be lost in the vastness of the billions of light years of the universe. It is inconceivable to them that God could be concerned about individuals on this little planet.
 
Is it ridiculous to think that God could be mindful of humanity? Is God too big to be concerned about us, about you and me, made of dust on this little speck of dust? Is God too big to love us?
 
Well the Gospel says, “NO!” God is not too big to love us. God is not too great to notice what is going on in each person’s life.  In fact the Gospel tells us that God is extremely attentive to our plight. It’s hard to believe! It’s astounding! But it is historical fact that God became flesh: a few pounds of dust in vast universe in order reveal his love, and save our helpless race.
It’s refreshing that even in the wisdom of Dr. Seuss, a children’s author, the truth that the very great can hearken to the cry of the very small is the centerpiece of “Horton hears a Who.” In fact it is Horton alone who has ears big enough to hear the tiny inhabitants of a speck of dust.
 
We in our pride and “bigness” often dismiss the weak, the small, the “unimportant.” But God isn’t that kind of big. He cares for the sparrow, and he cares for you. He sees the humble and contrite. He loves those who are at the bottom as well as at the top, and he became small for our sakes. He made us, small as we are capable of responding to him and living in relationship with him. He made us for himself, and seeks to bring us into eternity with him.
Ours is not a speculative religion of armchair philosophers, but conclusions drawn from the public working and speaking of God, through his prophets, apostles, and above all in Jesus Christ. In the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and in the ministry of Moses, Judges, Kings, Priests and prophets, and now, finally, in giving his Son, God has made it clear that his love is real his concern is great, his salvation is offered at great cost.
 
Our confidence in this is confirmed in the testimony of those who saw the miracles of Christ from his birth to resurrection, and in the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples, by which he confirmed their testimony over and over again. Remember that Peter wrote to early Christians, ‘We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.’ (2 Peter 1:16–18) God the Father deigned to reveal unmistakably that he was in Christ revealing his will to the world.
 
I want to remind you that if your God is too big to fit into a manger, he is not the God who created the universe. IF your God is too grand and grandiose to care about the individual person, he is not the only true God, who sent Jesus Christ to save sinners. Many people want to say “all gods are the same.” But far from it! Here is a God who loves us, HE is the only God, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that his character and love are anything other than the character and love shown in Jesus Christ and declared in Scripture. This is the only true God, and He loves you. This is the real and living God, and he calls you. This is our God, the servant King, and he died so that you can live.  Trust in this Good News, that God is not too big to hear you as you cry out to him, whether in pain or need, or in thankful love.
 
Would you pray with me? 
 
Loving God, Thank you for the Good News of Christmas. Thank you for your love.
Lord, receive us. Fill us with your spirit and lead us into the life that you have prepared for us in Jesus Christ.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen
 
Thank you, listeners, for your encouragement, prayer and financial support. You keep us on the air week by week.  If you can, please make out a cheque payable to Good News Christian Ministries, and send it to 96 Pheasant Run Drive, Ottawa, ON  K2J 2R5, Canada, (new address). We will send you a receipt at income tax time. Please also tell others about this program, and don’t forget to visit our website. You will find several of our programs available on podcasts.                             
 
Don’t forget to worship in a church where the gospel is soundly proclaimed and lived out with compassion, integrity, and resolve.
 
Now to conclude our program here is Joy to the World sung by the University of Manitoba Singers
 
May you know Jesus Christ personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart. And may the heavenly Father surround you with his constant and abiding and accompanying love.
 
Rev. Brian Wilkie
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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