Celebration:
Birth, hope and eternity

This Christmas day, what are we celebrating? In the Christmas season, many
families have family gatherings and churches have Christmas banquets.
Why do we celebrate? What are we celebrating on Christmas season?

I will share three things that we need to celebrate on Christmas.
One is the celebration of birth, the second is the celebration of hope, and
third is the celebration of eternity.

Celebrating of Birth
We remember the story of our birth. Even if we can’t remember our own birth
stories, we remember our children’s birth stories. How it was so delightful for
us and families and friends when a new baby was born.
The birth of child gives us joy and hope. Most parents experienced joy and
hope when their children were born.

I remember, when I found out my wife, Key was pregnant, I was so excited.
Even though it was 12 o’clock am, I ran to my friend’s home and shouted to
them, “my wife is pregnant” and we celebrated together. Immediately after my
wife delivered our baby, I phoned my parents who live in Korea. Even though it was 4 am in Korea I could not wait till my parent woke.

It was not important what time it was, but the important thing was that I had good news for them. I just wanted to share the good news with them. When we came back from the hospital, our friends and church families celebrated the new
born baby.

Here, in today’s text, we have another wonderful birth story. Baby Jesus was
born. We come together to celebrate his birth. His mom’s name is Mary.
The angel went to Mary and said, “you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”

An angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds and said to them,
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the
town of David as Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Jesus’ birth will give great joy to all the people. He is Savior for all the people.
It was good news that the angel brought. Even angels celebrated his birth,
“a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor
rests.”

The shepherds went to the place where the baby was born and they glorified
and praised God for the birth. In Matthew, three wise men came to celebrate
Jesus’ birth. We celebrate birthdays with joy and hope. Birthdays are important
for everybody. Birth, itself is good and be celebrated. It is so wonderful to
celebrate being with others.


We come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus today.  

2. Celebrating of Hope
I heard my own birth story from my mom several years ago. She had been
physically unhealthy. I remember that she was very often sick when I was a
child. When she was pregnant me, she was quite weak and sick.
Her life was threatened because of the pregnancy. It was very dangerous for
her to deliver a baby. So my father told her, “abort the baby to save your life.”
My mom, however, wanted to keep her baby even though it was so risky.
She didn’t listen to her husband. She gave birth safely.
Finally I saw the light and entered life. I am the youngest among seven children.

My mom said, it was wonderful decision to keep her baby even though
it was so risky to her life. My birth gave her joy as well as hope.
Her life was not easy with two handicapped sons.
She said, “Without you, I had no hope.  
You have given me and your father joy and hope.”
It was God’s blessing to her for delivering me.

Even when a small baby is born, it gives the parents joy and hope,
and also to the whole family.

Here in our text the wonderful stories about celebrating hope.
Celebrating the hope of salvation. Hope for God’s deliverance.
Hope for God’s grace. God shared hope with shepherds who were very poor
and marginalized in the society at that time.
The angel brought the hope of salvation to them.
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David as Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord.”

When Simeon saw the baby Jesus in the temple, he praised God,
“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight
of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people
Israel.”

When we come together on this day to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we celebrate the hope of salvation that he has brought to the world.
Hope of salvation is that we need to celebrate with other too.
  
We need to find many ways of celebrating the hope of salvation with our
community and we have to celebrate the hope of God with others.
How we can celebrate hope with others, who are outcast, who are marginalized, who are discouraged, who are in difficult times?
I will leave this question for you and me.

3. Celebrating Eternal
Nobody celebrates a forefathers’ birthday who has already died.
We remember them, but we don’t celebrate their birthdays anymore because
they are no longer with us. My father passed away three years ago.
We have a memorial service on the day of the year when he died,
but not for his birthday.
We are mortal, after our death nobody celebrates our birthday.
    
But we celebrate Jesus birth every year.  
Why do we celebrate Jesus’ birth even though he is not here physically,
who was born two thousand years ago? What does it mean to us?
We know that he is alive with us. We believe that he is with us, here and now.
He lives with us everyday.
So we celebrate his birthday together because His life is eternal.

The apostle, John said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.
He is the beginning and the end.” And Jesus told his disciple,
“I will be with you always, to the very end of the age,” even though his body is
not with us, his life is in us, with us.

His life is eternal.  

We are mortal, but we also have eternal life in us because of Jesus who lives
in us. His eternity has given us eternal life. His life is eternal.
When we come together to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we celebrate his eternity and our eternal life within him that God has given us through Jesus Christ,
our Savior.

If we celebrate eternity, we can detach ourselves a little more from the worldly
things that we are too strongly attached. Ps 62:10 says “if riches increase, set not your heart on them,” and Jesus said, “do not lay up for yourselves
treasures on earth (Mt. 6:21).” If we celebrate eternity with Jesus’ birth, we can seek for the Kingdom of God here and now, not for the kingdom of the world.
If we celebrate eternity with Jesus every day, we are free to receive the
provision of God as a gift that is not ours to keep, and that can be freely shared with others.

We are the people who put our hope in God, and not in the world.
We are the people who wait for salvation from God, not from the world.
On this Christmas day, and each day of our life we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we celebrate the hope of salvation, and we celebrate the eternal life because
Jesus is with us here and now.