Faithlife Corporation

What child is this

Notes & Transcripts

Heavenly Father – tonight we call upon your blessing during this time in which we examine your Word more closer – This holy night, may the words of my mouth and the mediations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight – our Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer - Amen

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2a)

These are the opening words from the prophet Isaiah that we have had read tonight

            They are words of hope for a people long ago

But for us – tonight – they are the announcement – the declaration of the greatest significance that the world have ever seen

For us… we declare that God… the Light of the world… has come amoung us

Good evening everyone and welcome … and congratulations

I will say more about the congratulations as we go along

For those that don’t know me, I am The Reverend Paul Tinker, the senior minister here at Farringdon – as such – it is my duty and great joy to welcome each and every one of you

And it is my joy to declare to you that this night and every day in God’s holy church ‘all are welcome’

Tonight, beyond the excitement of Santa Claus soon to make his arrival,

Beyond the all the preparations of gift buying and wrapping and house cleaning and decorating,

Beyond all the food shopping and cooking … or beyond all preparations for travel

            We have something incredible to announce and celebrate

We declare that “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2a)

For many this is a familiar message – whether that is from Handel’s Messiah or the fact that this scripture is often read each and every Christmas

But don’t let that familiarity dampen the shear incredible – awesome – glorious – stupendous news that it is

            It is nothing less than God coming to us - Emmanuel

“What has come into being 4in him… was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness (John 1:3b-5a)

                                                Isaiah prophesied about it… and John report it – Light in the darkness

The news is so important that the Prophet Isaiah over 27 hundred years ago declared it many different ways with a variety of metaphors so that each person might connect to it, maybe each in our own special way

            In its simplest form it is: Light in the darkness – in a land of deep darkness… Light…

                        For others it is the message of growth and birth - You have multiplied the nation…

Others – it is JOY… increased joy – like the joy found during the most plentiful time of the year – the joy of the harvest…

Others still – it is a message of RELEASE – release from the burdens of life – the yoke associated with farming, the bar across one’s shoulders – or the rod of their oppressor – all these devices of control, oppression and burden are… broken…

Finally for others, that are most familiar with the life of war and conflict - all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire

This last image reminds be of the song ‘Thrasher’ by from Neil Young – were he writes “Burned my credit card for fuel”

Images of casting–off that the represents the important symbols of this world, and moving on towards a better way – a way of freedom

Neil continues “They were just dead weight to me”

And what is this all about… what is this light in darkness – this growth and birth – this joy – this release – this casting off – and this freedom

It is about the most surprising news of all… – it is about the birth of a fragile baby

But of course no ordinary baby – for this child will be called…


Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore (Isaiah 9:6b-7a)

This Child is none other than God in the flesh – Emmanuel – God amongst us

And so congratulations!

            Why congratulations, you may ask… well because … a child has been born for us


When I ask the question "Who's birthday is it?"

The answer is supposed to be obvious - it's Jesus' birthday, of course.

At least that's what one might think until you read those two words from the Prophet Isaiah so many years ago – “for us” - or listen to the Prologue to John's Gospel.

John writes: "He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood… or of the will of the flesh… or of the will of man…, but of God" (John 1:10-13)

Did you hear that? "To all who receive him, he gave power to become children of God."

"Whose birthday is it?"

As it turns out, St. John seems to think...that it's our birthday.

And so at the heart of all the hymns and carols, at the center of all the celebration and gifts, and behind all the lights and wreaths, stands this one promise

That because of Christ and his incarnation, God regards us forever as God's own beloved child.[1]

WE become children of God!!!!

We all are made one with God… as God is born as one of us


And so as we celebrate the birth of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, [the] Prince of Peace

So… as we are one with each other… and with the Lord, as we will celebrate the Eucharist, the Thanksgiving feast – on this, the birthday of Jesus

                        It is also “for us”  the birthday for all…

                                    To that …I say congratulations!


To all who receive him, [Jesus] gave [us the] power to become children of God




I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10b-11)

On this holy night, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who, according to Luke, was born in Bethlehem, in a stable, because the town was full of out-of-town visitors who had come to pay their taxes.

But if you look around, you will see that we’ve made much more of this celebration than the observance of a simple birth story.

This time of year carries with it many-layered meanings;

Family traditions; economic success for merchants;

And our year-end tendency to want to evaluate this year before embarking on another.

All these things, along with a group of stories like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, find their way into our consciousness, our decorations, our gift-buying habits, our parties, and into our expectations.

Our culture treats Christmas with massively sentimental attention. We watch specials on TV, we resurrect “A Christmas Carol” with its ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future;

And we long for our families to match these sentimental visions.

None of this is bad. Traditions instruct us, delight us, and remind us of our values.

We often regard the sweet scene of the 1st nativity through a Hallmark-special fuzzy lens, as though it were only about another sweet baby.

     But this nativity scene, isn’t just the end of Mary’s pregnancy and the start of a new family.

The baby in the manger is none other than Emmanuel, God with us.

The people who walked in darkness have, indeed, seen a great light 

The light emanating from this sleepy domestic scene is the light of God, come to be with us, come to dwell in us, come to transform us.

Do you remember when you were given our first bike, Your own bike?

Not your neighbors.  Not your friends.  Not your brother’s or sister’s but your very own bicycle? 

Do you remember the thrill, the glow that you felt about that? 

Or for those a little older, do you remember your first car?

Do you remember the feeling inside when you drove that first car? 

Although not exciting when I tell the story to others, because it was a Saturn station wagon… however when I remember the emotions of getting my first car,

I can still see it and smell it from so many years ago,

because it was my first, very own car.

Or, how about that first apartment, with the crumby furniture,

Where you could do what you wanted to do

There was an inner glow, a glowing satisfaction. 

Or how about your first home? 

For those of you who have a home, do you remember that first little spot you had that you called a home? 

The backyard.  The kitchen.  The old bathroom of your first home? 

Do you remember that glowing satisfaction of having your first home. 

Or do you remember your first child?  That first child that was born or adopted your very own, and the glow that was inside of you? 

How can you forget the inner glow that accompanied your first child? 

Yes, we all remember the inner satisfaction and inner glow from our first tricycle, bicycle, car, apartment, home, and child, when these became our very own.[2]

            It is enough to make you want to sing out

      And yet it is a mere glimpse of the greatest of all glories

It is this glow that, even though we heard them hundreds of times we still enjoy singing the familiar Christmas carols

            It is this glory that God gives to His people – the glory of a newborn baby

                        For all humanity – for ever more

                                    In any child, there is the glow of hope and promise

In this child there is the glow of hope and promise for all humanity for all time

It's not only John’s gospel, as I mentioned before, that gives witness to this glorious promise,

But Luke, as well… who through his depiction of the nativity and the song of the angels makes plain the importance of this night.

As Martin Luther once observed in a Christmas sermon, 'Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.'

In these words, Luther writes, you see clearly that Christ is born for us.

        The angel does not simply say, "Christ is born," but "to you he is born,"

    Neither does he say, "I bring glad tidings, but to you I bring glad       

    tidings of great joy....

We see here, how Christ, as it were, takes our birth from us and absorbs it in his birth, and grants us his,

That in it, we might become pure and holy, as if it were our own,

So that every Christian may rejoice and glory in Christ's birth as much as if he had himself been born of Mary as was Christ."[3]

Do you see?  Do you understand? 

Do you realize that the Christ child… is for you…

That the gift of eternal life… is for you…

That the gift of God’s healing… is for you …

That the gift of God’s forgiveness… is for you …

That the gift of a new birth of love… is for you. 

The response of faithful people to this new reality is to learn from Jesus, to emulate Jesus, to become bringers of God’s light ourselves.

We celebrate the gift that God has given to us in Jesus especially in the life-affirming ways that Jesus employed – by teaching, healing, giving voice and vision to those who have been in darkness.

The work of Christmas begins, but does not end, tonight.

Christmas doesn’t end tomorrow. Christmas doesn’t end with Epiphany, or Lent, or Easter;

Christmas is God’s continuing gift of God’s presence with us, and Christmas is our challenge to prepare room in our hearts, and in our lives.

When you came in tonight, maybe you were coming to experience the wonderful glow that celebrating a holy Christmas provides

            Did you know that you would leave with the knowledge that it is your birthday too

                        That God’s glow is more than baby Jesus – but you too

That we came to celebrate, beyond the distractions of the season, that God came into this world… for your healing…, your eternal life…, your forgiveness

            That the truly special gift is the new life in each and every one of us

I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10b-11)

To all who receive him, [Jesus] gave [us the] power to become children of God

Thanks be to God…

And all God’s children said – Alleluia Amen

   Alleluia Amen





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