Diocese of Hong Kong IslandDiocese of Hong Kong Island   Hong Kong Sheng Kung HuiHong Kong Sheng Kung Hui   St. John's Cathedral, Hong KongSt. John's Cathedral, Hong Kong



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Christmas Morning Sermon 2022
Preacher: Will Newman


Merry Christmas! I hope you are enjoying this beautiful Christmas Day with your family and friends. It’s so wonderful to be able to meet again, after 3 years of Covid and lockdowns!

There’s a story told about someone hundreds of years ago who saw some workers building a new building. He asked one of the workers, ‘What are you doing?’ The worker replied, ‘I’m putting this stone on top of that stone.’ The man asked a second worker, ‘What are you doing?’ He replied, ‘I’m building a church.’ The man asked a 3rd worker, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’m creating something beautiful that will show God’s glory, and inspire people for hundreds of years, and give meaning to their lives!’

Each one of those workers said what they were doing, but they said it in different ways. The first one had a very narrow focus, just putting one stone on top of another. The second had a wider vision of what they were building. The third had a vision that reached to the heaven. He told the purpose, why they were doing it, and he gave their work meaning.

In the bible there are four gospels. We all the people who wrote them Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Gospel means good news, and the good news is the story of Jesus. Each gospel writer tells the story in a different way.

Mark’s gospel begins with Jesus as an adult. Mark says nothing about the birth of Jesus.

Luke tells the familiar story of the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary, telling her that she will have a baby who will be called the Son of God. Luke tells why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem, and why Mary had to lay baby Jesus in a manger, because there was no room in the inn. And Luke tells the story of the shepherds and angels.

Matthew tells the story of the Wise Men who come to see Jesus.

The Christmas story we hear every year puts these two gospels, Luke and Matthew, together. And so we have in the stable behind me, baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the ox and ass, and the shepherds. And Matthew’s Wise Men or Kings are under the window, on their way to the stable at Bethlehem.

These stories are delightful, and they contain important ideas. From Luke we learn that

Mary accepts God’s influence in her life.

Jesus is born in poverty, in a stable not a palace.

His birth is announced by angels, heavenly messengers sent from God.

The first to hear the good news are shepherds, ordinary folk, who come to see the newborn King.

Matthew’s story of the Wise Men tells us that Jesus is the answer to our search for wisdom. The story encourages us to follow our star. And when we make them 3 Kings, the story says that kings came to worship Jesus: Jesus is King of kings.

Luke and Matthew tell us what happened, and we create meaning from their stories. But the gospel I read a few minutes ago was from the 4th gospel, St John’s gospel, and John tells the story in a unique way. There are no shepherds or angels, no kings or wise men, no stable, no manger. Like the worker who had a vision of the beauty and glory that he was creating, John has a vision that sees what lies beyond the immediate.

This is how John’s gospel starts: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ And as we read on, we see that John is talking about Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God, God’s message to us. In Jesus God speaks to us. Not like a distant voice from far away, but as one of us, God with us, sharing our life.

‘In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’ In Jesus, God shows us the true life, not just putting one stone on top of another, not just a meaningless daily routine, but a life that has purpose, a life that gives light in the darkness.

Have you ever seen the famous photo of the earth as a pale blue dot? It’s a photo taken from hundreds of millions of miles away. The photo was taken in 1990 by a camera on a spacecraft that was launched in the 1970s, and it shows our world, the Earth, as a tiny pale blue dot, surrounded by the vast darkness of space. There’s so much darkness, and yet the Earth is a light that shines and is not overcome by the darkness.

In Jesus, God gives our lives and all life on earth meaning and purpose. Even when the world is darkened by wars and hatred, even when our own lives are darkened and diminished by sadness or loss, the life of Jesus still stands as a beacon of hope, an assurance that darkness and death will not have the ultimate victory. ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.’

Merry Christmas!