2010 Christmas Message
DECEMBER 10TH, 2010 (IN CATHOLIC SERMONS) By Msgr. Anselm
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The prophecy of Isaiah regarding the birth of Christ came at a time when the Arameans and the rest of Israel threatened to attack the land of Judah and make it desolate. The king of Judah, Ahaz was so disturbed and did not know what to do. The Lord sent Isaiah to reassure Ahaz that the threat of these enemies of God’s people “will not stand. It shall not be.” (vs. 7) and requested that Ahaz ask for a sign that this promise shall be so. But Ahaz refused. For him, to relate to God at that level was to tempt God since the relationship between God and man was that of fear and trembling, not that of friendship and love.
It became important to God that this relationship be changed; that He needed to become one of us so that we can have him at our beck and call to take care of matters and situations that trouble us. He needed to establish His kingdom here on earth so as to take care of every other kingdom that dares to threaten to annihilate His people. He, therefore, promised the birth of “Immanuel”—God with us, to reassure His people of His physical presence and His determination to take care of matters that trouble them. “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense, he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf cleared; the lame leap like a stag, the tongue of the dumb will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe” (Isaiah 35:4-6)
The dangers that faced Judah because of which God made the promise of Immanuel symbolizes the many tribulations and iniquities that threaten to stultify our growth, pollute our anointing, and frustrate our blessings. Our times are filled with threats to our well being—many failed hopes and broken promise, failed relationships and broken homes, illnesses that devastate lives and families, drug abuse, hopelessness, helplessness, and depression. Many have lost their jobs, homes, investments, and by implication, their hope for the future. In many quarters, the pursuit of power, wealth, fame, and prestige has replaced the quest for righteousness, dignity, piety, and justice. These are the things that threaten to make our lives desolate and it is to remedy these iniquities that God became Immanuel.
Christmas, therefore, reminds us of this great deed of God; the establishment of His kingdom on earth so that we can become citizens of a kingdom with a King who has the power to strengthen us to do all things and to overcome everything. That means, we now have a King that we can take every matter that pertains to our lives to with the assurance of hope that He will take care of it because nothing can say no when He says yes. As Scriptures says: “My Father is greater than all” (John 10:29).
Many a time, the solution to a problem depends on whom we take it to. When problems are taken to the wrong quarters, disappointments abound. When Israel was besieged by Assyria, instead of taking the matter to God, they decided to seek an alliance with Egypt and Ethiopia. When Assyria decimated these two nations, the Israelites cried: ‘Behold, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered. And now, where shall we go?” (Isaiah 8:23).
God had always asked His people to bring every matter to Him. But more often than not, they chose to do it their own way. The birth of Christ means that we now have the right person to take the issues in our lives to. When, at the wedding in Cana, they ran out of wine, Mary took the matter to Jesus; when Jairus was in desperate need of saving his daughter, he took the matter to Jesus; when all medical help failed the woman with the issue of blood, she took the matter to Jesus; when Zacchaeus needed to turn things around in his life, he took the matter to Jesus; when the adulterous woman needed to rediscover herself as a child of God, she took the matter to Jesus; when the thief on the right side of Christ at crucifixion needed to save his life, he took the matter to Jesus; when storm threatened to sink the boat in which the Apostles were traveling, they took the matter to Jesus; when Peter began to sink after daring to walk on water, he took the matter to Jesus. In all these cases, needed help arrived quite on time.
Christmas, therefore, is about celebrating what God has done for us in giving us a solution maker and a problem solver in Jesus Christ. This is the right reason for this season. As Scripture says: “There is no other name given unto man by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12). The word “to save” comes from the Greek word “Soteria” which means to be made whole, deliverance, restoration, healing, and power to overcome. Immanuel, in essence, means that God has established in our midst the power by which every iniquity can be overcome. No wonder Job declared: “Call now! Will anyone respond to you? To which of the holy ones will you appeal? None! In your place, I would appeal to God, and to God I would state my plea. Out of six troubles, he will deliver you, and at the seventh, no evil shall touch you. In famine he will deliver you from death, and in war from the threat of the sword; ” (Job 5: 1, 8, 19-20)
No matter what may be going on in our lives right now, Christmas reminds us that there is a place we can take the matter to and get needed help. There is a name we can bring to every iniquity and dominion of darkness in our lives and overcome them. There is a power that we can now appeal to and turn things around for our good. There is a light that has come to overcome the dark places in our lives.
This privilege comes with responsibilities:
We need to do what we must to receive Christ and to maintain the status of our citizenship in this new kingdom so that we can be beneficiaries of all the rights and privileges that pertain to it. Receiving Christ means receiving all that He is and all of His promises for our lives. This means we must keep our hearts open and receive by faith every gift, every promise and every blessing in His Word. We receive by saying thank you. We receive by declaring the truth about Christ over our lives. We receive by obeying the Word of God and putting it into practice in our lives. As Scripture says “If you remove all iniquity from your conduct, and let not injustice dwell in your tent, then your life shall be brighter than the noonday; and you shall be established” (Job 11:14-18);
We must stay committed to Christ for scriptures says: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) and Isaiah tells us: “Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!” (Isaiah 7:9);
We need to develop a habit of praying the Scriptures, i.e. reading and listening to God’s word daily and using the Word of God in prayer. Scripture tells us that it is the Word of God that makes all things happen and that nothing becomes without its power.
May we bring the hope of Christmas into our lives, into our relationships, into the workplace, and into every nuke and corner of our being! Merry Christmas!