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Jesus Saves

Luke 2:1-20

The Rev. Jon Roberts

24 December


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirin′i-us was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

[9PM Candlelight Service Sermon]

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness. On them light has shined for a child has been born for us, a son given to us; [1]

About a week before Christmas a family bought a new nativity scene. When they unpacked it they found two figures of the Baby Jesus. "Someone must have packed this wrong," the mother said, counting out the figures. "We have one Joseph, one Mary, three wise men, three shepherds, two lambs, a donkey, a cow, an angel and two babies. Oh, dear! I suppose some set down at the store is missing a Baby Jesus because we have two." "You two run back down to the store and tell the manager that we have an extra Jesus. Tell him to put a sign on the remaining boxes saying, “If you are missing Jesus, call [this number].

All week long they waited for someone to call. Each time the phone rang mother would say, "I'll bet that's about Jesus," but it never was. Father tried to explain there are thousands of these scattered over the country and the figurine could be missing from a set in Florida or Texas or California. Those packing mistakes happen all the time. He suggested just put the extra Jesus back in the box and forget about it. "Put Baby Jesus back in the box! What a terrible thing to do," said the children. "Surely someone will call," mother said. "We'll just keep the two of them together in the manger until someone calls." When no call had come by 5:00 on Christmas Eve, mother insisted that father "just run down to the store" to see if there were any sets left. "You can see them right through the window, over on the counter," she said. "If they are all gone, I'll know someone is bound to call tonight." The children ran ahead as father reluctantly walked out in the cold. When they got to the store his daughter pressed her nose up to the store window. "They're all gone, Daddy," she shouted. "Every set must be sold."
"Hooray," his son said. "The mystery will now be solved tonight!"

When they got back into the house they noticed that mother was gone and so was the extra Baby Jesus figurine. There, on the counter she left instructions to come to 205 Chestnut Street immediately, and bring three blankets, a box of cookies and some milk. "Now what has she gotten us into?" my father groaned as we bundled up again. "205 Chestnut. Why that's across town. Of all the crazy things to do on a night like this." When they got to the house at 205 Chestnut Street it was the darkest one on the block. Only one tiny light burned in the living room and, the moment we set foot on the porch steps, my mother opened the door and shouted, "They're here, Oh thank God you got here! You kids take those blankets into the living room and wrap up the little ones on the couch. I'll take the milk and cookies."
"Would you mind telling me what is going on?" father asked. "We have just walked through below zero weather with the wind in our faces all the way." "Never mind all that now," mother interrupted. "There isn't any heat in this house and this young mother is so upset she doesn't know what to do. Her husband walked out on her and those poor little children will have a very bleak Christmas, so don't you complain. I told her you could fix that oil furnace in a jiffy." Mother strode off to the kitchen to warm the milk while the five little children, huddled together on the couch, were wrapped in blankets. The woman’s husband had run off, taking bedding, clothing, and almost every piece of furniture, but she had been doing all right until the furnace broke down.

"I saw your number every day there, on those boxes on the counter. When the furnace went out, that number kept going' through my mind. It said on the box that if a person was missin' Jesus, they should call you. All my life, I’ve known Jesus. I know that he came into the world to save me. Right now, I need savin’ because I’m missing Jesus. Somehow I knew that if I called out, he would send someone like you to help me in my darkest hour.”

On the way home father did not complain about the cold weather and had barely set foot inside the door when he was on the phone finding some oil for this woman on Christmas Eve.
No one ever did call about the missing figure in the nativity set, but as time marched on, they knew it was never a packing mistake at all. From the cold and darkness, when people cry out, He shines light on them and brings people together to care for one another. He calls us to search within, sometimes asking us to move away from what is convenient and comfortable in order that we may find ourselves by giving of ourselves.

That baby in the manger is the true meaning of Christmas.
It is about Jesus who saves lives, calling for you to visit.
It’s what He does best.
If you’re missing Jesus tonight,
Look no further than the manger,
And call out to Him.

[1] Isaiah 9:2

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