Tamil Christmas Sermon
The King Whose Star Brings Peace
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before 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; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
This is always a very special time of year. In the advent season we commemorate the wait we experience for the coming of our Lord Jesus. This occurs in two ways. First, we wait for the Christmas Day itself to actually arrive. In that sense we are in a season of waiting for a holiday that is pure joy and the holiday that commemorates Jesus’ first coming to earth – in his birth. Second, we are also reminded in this season of waiting of Jesus’ second coming, which has yet to occur. In preparing ourselves for Christmas, we are supposed to remind ourselves not only that Christ has already come, but that he will come again – like a thief in the night or a baby in a manger.
But this second coming will be different. It will not look the same. And yet, it will be entirely consistent. The scriptures that have been read for us this evening refer to the significance of Christ’s birth. They help us answer the question, “What does Christmas really mean?” It means far more that presents and delicious desserts! It commemorates the coming not only of the King of the Jews – whose star is always rising over the horizon – but the king whose coming brings peace to those he favors.
As Luke recounts, the shepherds are told, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” This isn’t just a joy for them, but a joy for us! Our lives can be hectic and chaotic sometimes. Occasionally, we are just as frightened as the shepherds in the field that night. Life can throw us things that we don’t know how to handle, yet God is merciful and gracious to us.
When God becomes human in the form of a little child, he came to show us that he loves us. Jesus came to live as a human, to die as a human, and to rise up from the dead as a human also. Just as we are born into the weaknesses and frailties of Adam, so we have the opportunity to be raised up with Christ also. This is one of the promises of Christmas, but not the only one.
When Jesus came to us, he came in meekness and humility and yet he was with God and God at the beginning of all things. His birth heralded the dawn of a new age – an age when we can be assured that we are not only loved, but that God wills every good for us.
Christ’s coming herald’s the coming of the Kingdom of God. This kingdom is not like earthly kingdoms. It is different. It’s not something that we could come up with on our own. It’s something that Jesus shows us through his life, ministry, death, and resurrection. It is a kingdom of peace. That’s what Luke tells us. So perhaps we should ask, “what is this peace?” It is peace in spirit. It helps us deal with our fears and concerns. It assures us that we are wrapped up in God’s love.
It is also peace as a way of life. When we seek to follow Jesus, we seek to follow the example of his life. That means thinking long and hard about the Sermon on the Mount and how we can better exemplify the virtues he lifted up there. Following Jesus means that we should strive after efforts to make peace, to forgive, and to live in harmony with others. It means that we should strive to be as loving as the God who loved us enough to die for us. This God is the God of love. Jesus, the child who came – both fully God and fully human – to deliver us from all the worst aspects of ourselves. He is our messiah, our comfort, and our deliverer. Amen.