From and To
Luke 2:1-20

Tonight or tomorrow morning, I’m sure every one of you will get a Christmas gift of some kind.  There’s a fair chance that on it somewhere will be a gift tag.  On it will be written FROM and TO.  That’s the theme for tonight’s message; FROM and TO.

When you read Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus there are several transitions, where we make a move FROM one thing TO another.

Let’s start with Mary, she began her journey to Bethlehem pregnant, just about due for delivery, while she was there she gave birth, suddenly she was a Mum.  This was a big transition in her young life.  She knew what the angels had told her about her son, but surely she would have still been wondering what would be in store for her and her son now that she had given birth and in such bizarre circumstances.

The story then moves on to the shepherds, they as we know were watching their flocks by night, a fairly standard evening for them.  They would have been sitting there in the dark, and my guess is that their eyes would have adjusted and they would have been able to see quite well.  What a blinding shock it must have been when the angel appeared in front of them and the glory of the Lord shone around them!  They went from being quietly in the darkness, to being surrounded by light, no wonder they were terrified.

Then to add to the equation a multitude of the heavenly host appeared and started praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”

They’d already made a sudden transition from darkness to light, then they went from being terrified to joyful.  They believed what the Lord had revealed to them and headed off to Bethlehem to check it out for themselves and lo and behold, they discovered exactly what the angels had told them they would.  They were so excited they told everyone about it and then headed home glorifying and praising God. 

They’d gone from quietly caring for their flocks to loudly giving praise and glorifying God.  Once again we see the pattern of going FROM and TO.

How do you and I get a FROM and TO in all of this?  Well that’s pretty simple really isn’t it?  This child, born to Mary, Son of God and Messiah is precisely that, the Messiah, sent to take you from your broken sinful self to be made whole again.

Throughout Advent we’ve had our devotional piece in the foyer with the broken mirror representing our broken and sinful nature.  As you’ve looked into it you’ve seen a broken vision of yourself reflected back at you.  In front of the mirror though has been the Advent candles representing the light of Christ coming into our world to heal our brokenness.  We’ve gone from broken to whole, through him.  From darkness to light, just like the shepherds, from darkness into the light of God’s glory shone around us.

At Christmas I still like to look forward to our Easter celebration, the two festivals are so intimately linked; I think it’s important to remember them together in some way.  It’s another FROM and TO, we look forward from Christmas to Easter, to the fulfilment of Christ’s ministry, in his death and resurrection.  We look from the Christmas tree to the cross.  I like the tradition that some congregations have, where they use the trunk of their church Christmas tree to make their cross for the following Easter.

I’m sure you’ve all got stories of moving from and to in various ways.  Tonight I’d like each of you to take a gift tag sticker, place it somewhere that you will be able to see it over the next few weeks, maybe even where you can see it right through until Easter.  In the FROM I’ve written God and in the TO I’ve written you.  This is to remind you that God sent the gift of his Son for you on the first Christmas.  As you’re opening gifts in the coming hours, remember what the most important gift at Christmas is.  Just as you say thanks to family and friends for gifts they give to you, don’t forget to be thankful to God for his gift to you as well. 

Just as Mary treasured what the Shepherds said and the events of that night, take the words of God and treasure and ponder them too.  The angel brought a message from God to the shepherds, it’s a message for you too, “do not be afraid; for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people, to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the messiah, the Lord!”

As you sing carols, open gifts, eat and drink, spend time with family and friends, remember where you have come from and where you are heading to.  From darkness to light, from sinner to saved, from earthly life to eternal life, because of a gift from God to you.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours.

Amen.