Christmas has an incredible power!
More than any other birthday! More than any other event.
In popular culture and in the imagination of most, Christmas is the most important of all our celebrations. Think with me for a moment about why this is.
Of course we know there are many good reasons - it's the birthday celebration of the son of God, it's about the miracle of incarnation - where God enters into our human experience.
But why is it so important for people who have little or no faith?
I don't believe that it's just that we have a good holiday with a kindly spirit of goodwill.
Part of the drama and attraction of Christmas that draws us in like bees to honey, or like shoppers to a 50% off sale, is that at Christmas we celebrate the coming of one who made such an incredible difference, and promises to do that still, in us.
H.G. Wells said that the true test of a person's greatness lies not in their wealth, popularity or position, but in what a person leaves behind to grow. By this test," he said, "Jesus stands first."
Jesus greatness is different from the greatness we are used to.
The birth itself is ordinary and bare, a lowly affair, touching in it's poverty rather than it's glory.
Martin Luther used to say that he considered human reproduction a great marvel. "Had God consulted me", he said, "I would have advised him to continue to fashion us out of the clay, direct." But ordinary human birth was good enough for the son of God.
It's a surprising story if we look at it with an open mind and a sense of expectation, as we read Luke's account of the first Christmas we find a humble story, yet full of breath taking delight, of promise, peace and joy, a message that leaves people awe struck and with new hope, new life and purpose.
The key to it all for Luke seems to be in the announcement of the angels to the shepherds. They leave their responsibilities and go to see a new born in a common feeding trough, I wonder what you and I would leave behind to see Jesus, some, I know many won't even leave their feasting and present unwrapping to remember his coming as the cause of it all!
So the message of the angels not to a ruler in a palace in Rome , but to lowly workers in the paddocks at night, GOOD NEWS announced for all.
All that glory and wonder, - angel choirs shining, all that meaning and ultimate truth, and as the angels say, it's all about - Jesus coming is all about - bringing Glory to God, and bringing peace on earth - peace to us. The peace the angels proclaim and the peace Jesus lived is the "shalom" peace of God, it's a peace that brings wholeness and fulfilment, brought of being at one with God, a peace that means healing and new hope - the peace of God which passes all understanding.
May the peace the angels announced on this special birthday be yours. May the peace of the babe of Bethlehem bring wholeness to your day, to your family and your life.
May the peace of God which surpasses the grasp of our minds, enfold us now and always. May this spirit of Christ be reborn in us. Amen.