To Us, a Savior has Been Born!
Dec 24, 2022
Text: Luke 2:1-20
Pastor Jean M. Hansen
Christmas Eve greetings to each of you; it is wonderful to celebrate the birth of Jesus with you this afternoon/tonight! We rejoice that to you, to me, a Savior has been born.
A few weeks ago, at the Church Council’s Advent gathering, we participated in an activity that raises fewer objections from attendees than many holiday party games. First, everyone received a number and then everyone received a gift with that number on it. Recipients had three options upon opening the gift, which was done one at a time. They could keep the gift, take someone else’s gift in exchange for their gift, or simply give the gift away, which meant that someone might end up with more than one gift.
Some gifts, including the Godiva chocolates, the jar of Akron Honey and the $10 Starbuck’s gift card were popular and stolen (or should I say traded for) a number of times. Other gifts were not as coveted, including a Chapstick, even though it was unused, fuzzy no-slip holiday socks and a snowflake pin, which evidently induced negative snow shoveling memories.
After all the gifts were opened, we went back through the numbers, beginning with the highest one and working our way to #1. People had the choice to keep or trade (without the other person’s consent) their gift. If you happened to be #22, you might get the gift you wanted, but only temporarily until someone else stole it (or should I say traded with you). Sadly, that free Starbuck Java Chip Frappuccino might be a fleeting dream.
It was the person with #1 who was the lucky one because every gift in the room was an option, since that one had the last choice; there would be no more trading unless it happened in the parking lot. Well, Dana Singer took advantage of her privileged position to acquire a jar of Akron Honey.
It’s not often that we end up in the “privileged position”, as is the case for #1 in that holiday activity. And, it is certainly not the case that when we do, anyone remembers it later (unless you were really longing for that Frappuccino.) But, in tonight’s familiar story of the birth of Jesus, the ones in the privileged position are remember two millennia later and are a surprising bunch – the shepherds.
Please remember that in the first century shepherds were not desirable company, being poor, unkempt, illiterate and considered dishonest. Yet, these outcasts turned evangelists received an unexpected birth announcement. Usually, birth news is along the lines of: “It’s a boy!”, or “Our son is born!”, or “Your grandson has arrived!” But the message to the shepherds from the angel shinning with God’s glory was, “…to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” It’s an interesting turn of phrase; the pronoun “you” is plural and the sentence is in the dative tense. What???
In the Greek language, that tense is reserved for when “A” gives a gift to “B”. The sense of it is that this giving is intentional, that this gift is meant for the recipient and is given for a specific reason. So, the shepherds are being told not just that a Savior has been born, but that he has been born for them. His birth will affect those shepherds (and others) in a personal way. Here’s what commentator Scott Hoezee has to say about that: “This Savior came to them and for them. They were involved in this person’s birth in a way far more dramatic that simply hearing an announcement. If you tell me that your wife had a baby the day before yesterday, I may well be delighted to hear it and will, in some small way, share you joy. But that is a quite different matter than having my whole life changed because this child who has been born is going involve me personally.” (1)
“Today a Savior has been born to you,” the angel said. Of course, they went to check it out, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” It’s interesting that no mention is made of going to see if it’s true; evidently an angel chorus is quite convincing. When they located Mary, Joseph and Jesus, lying in the manger, they found the one who had been born for them.
If the Emperor had a new son, born in the palace, they would not have been allowed near the place. But those dirty, morally suspect shepherds were at home in a stable; there they had access to Jesus. The birth of the Messiah was for them, and everyone like them. When they left and “made known what had been told them about the child”, they no doubt said, “This Savior came for us. Do you believe it? US!” Then the human-made boundaries designating who was and was not acceptable to God were broken.
The message of that night is this: no matter who we are, what we’ve done or failed to do, this Savior was born for us … that is … for you. This birth involves you personally, which places you in a privileged position. That being the case, we gather here tonight to glorify and praise God for all that has been told to us. For to us, a Savior has been born. AMEN
“Sermon Commentary on Luke 2:1-20”, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016, by Scott Hoezee, www.cepreaching.org