Monday, 24 December 2012

Registration: a Christmas Eve Homily with reference to Luke 2:1-7

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 
A bit of a theme there. Did notice? Registered three times and registration once. 
Register: Noun—an official list or record, for example of births, marriages, and deaths, of shipping, or of historic places.
Joseph and Mary went home to Bethlehem to be officially recorded as being from there. We do something similar at Christmas, don’t we. Lots of people head home at this time of year. I heard on the radio that last Friday was Calgary Airport’s busiest day of the year. Much of that traffic was people heading home to be re-connected with their families—not officially, but emotionally and relationally. There’s often some history in it, too, we go home to repeat and enjoy the Christmas traditions of our family histories. Although it’s not an official registering, there is a real sense that we’re making sure that we’re being recorded as members of our families—part of the official history and register of marriages and births which are associated with them.  
6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
While they were there Jesus was born. Likewise, while we’re here at home with our families, Jesus’ birthday happens and we celebrate that by coming here. It’s like a spiritual registration. 
Register: Noun—an official list or record, for example of births, marriages, and deaths, of shipping, or of historic places.
Coming to worship on Christmas Eve is like allowing ourselves, or making sure, maybe for some of us, hoping, that we’re “registered”—on the official list or record, associated with 
  • this most important birth of all time, the birth of Jesus, God with us, our Lord and Saviour
  • the miraculous circumstances of his conception and the marriage or his parents, and
  • his death on the cross to set us free from sin and death. 
Tonight we have an opportunity to “register” the fact that we believe this is real history, which took place in real historic places among real people. And not only that, we also have the opportunity to be registered as active and willing participants in the truth of it all and in the continuing history of Jesus who is risen from the dead, lives on in us his followers and in his Church. 
So, welcome home. For those of you who are visiting or are not here very often, it’s good to see you and have you join our Church family for this birthday celebration. I hope your praying our family creed and coming to The Lord’s Table with us tonight will be for you an act confirming your registration in the Kingdom of God. I hope the good news of Jesus will get under your skin anew and, if you live in The Hat, you’ll feel welcome to come and hang out with this family more often. If you’re from away—may you find and get yourself registered in a Church family there. 
If you are someone who is still wondering and have not yet decided to believe in and follow Jesus, it’s especially good to see you, too. We’re glad you’re here. I hope you will find the prayers inside the cover of your bulletin helpful, and that you will decide to be registered in the Book of Life tonight or sometime soon and that you, too, will feel welcomed and appreciated enough to join the family of God. 
For those of you who are here every Sunday. I’m glad to see you all. What a blessing you are to Jude and I. What a great family of Jesus followers. We love you. 
Merry Christmas one and all. God bless us everyone.