Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3 (page 621 in our pew Bibles) An expression of pure joy in what God has done and the need to show the world. This piece exudes happiness and contentment in what God has done and hope in what he will do,
Galatians 4: 4-7 (Page 974 in our pew Bibles) Paul rarely mentions the birth of Jesus but here he does in order to emphasise that Jesus was born just like every other human and just like every other Jew born under the law and had therefore been circumcised.
Luke 2: 15-21 ( page 857 in our pew Bibles)The great revelation of Jesus’ identity was given to the ordinary working people of Israel – the shepherds and they reflect the joy that Isaiah describes.
If both Isaiah and the Lukan story want to convey the huge excitement that people felt over what was doing we turn to Paul in Galatians to get a handle on what it was that people were supposed to be getting excited about!
Jesus was born an ordinary Jew in very lowly circumstances which was heralded mainly by shepherds who were also socially of very low estate.
But he was being heralded because Jesus had another identity and role as well. And in fulfilling that role, as redeemer, he would win something wonderful for all people.
In this first Sunday after the Christmas story was announced and celebrated we now discover what it meant for every one of us on a personal level.
First of all Jesus was born as one of us so that he could redeem all of us. It would have been no good if Jesus was just a demi-God who God raised from the dead – He had to be fully human to make clear that resurrection is the gift that all other human beings have in store for them as well. The message is clear;
God the Father raised a human being from the dead. This means that;
God the Father can raise you, a fellow human being, from the dead.
This is personal and intensely relational.
In this life we are all members of a biological family; we are Mothers or Fathers, sons or daughters, aunties and uncles, nephews and nieces. How well those families function is another matter but we are all as human beings members of a biological family.
The incredible message of Christianity is that we are all potentially members of another Family – a much bigger family.
We all become children of God when we believe that Jesus is the Son of the most high, and Jesus in his humanity is also our brother.
Jesus is our brother alongside all other Christians who become our brothers and sisters in this world-wide family.
When we believe God sends his Spirit into our hearts, the same Spirit that Jesus had in his heart and leads us to call God “our Father”.
We are no longer slaves to death or sin or any other human construction – we are alive in God. We know true freedom when we know God as our Father.
This is the one truly liberating message of the Christian faith that underpins everything else.
Identity is a truly hot topic in modern society. And in society our identities are based in things like class, gender and sexuality.
But Christianity beat society to the punch 2000 years ago. When we became Christians We assumed a new identity. I am a child of God.
I am clear about my identity that cuts through all of society’s transient efforts to classify me.
I am first and foremost a child of God. That is who I am and that is who we all are when we accept and believe.