St Michael’s and St Barnabas 28th December 2014
Reading – Luke 2:15-21
So Christmas Day is over. You have unwrapped the last of your presents. You are manfully ploughing through the remains of the turkey, if you haven’t already consigned them to the freezer. You have been for the Boxing Day walk and seen your favourite Yuletide film. Some of the family have already gone back, and you may have even begun on the housework. You are really trying hard not to think about it, but you are conscious the New Year is around the corner. Soon you will be packing away the decorations, sorting out which cards and newsletters to keep, and gradually returning to the everyday routine.
And there’s a danger that when we hear a familiar reading like the one from Luke’s gospel, we too tend to treat it as just part of the Christmas celebrations, a passage we unwrap once a year, enjoy and then parcel up again for the next twelve months. But of course that was never Luke’s intention when he wrote this gospel. After all, in those days there were no Christmas celebrations. The first recorded Christmas on 25th December was in 336AD, once the Roman emperor Constantine embraced the faith. And if the early church celebrated the birth of Jesus at all, it was on the feast of the Epiphany, 6th January, from about the third century onwards.
As we saw when we began our study of Luke at the beginning of Advent the object of his gospel was to help his friend Theophilus know the certainty of the things you have been taught. Luke’s aim in telling the Christmas story is to show that the coming of Jesus is real, is relevant and should make a practical difference to our lives every single day. That’s why I showed this video just now, to make connections between the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and life there today.