Pastor Barry Robinson

Letters to the Camberwell Congregation from Pastor Barry Robinson

November 2007 - Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

November 2007 - Advent, Christmas and Epiphany


Dear Church Family,

When you think of Christmas I wonder what words come to mind?

For mum it might be ‘turkey’; for Dad it might be ‘credit card’; for both it might be ‘stress’; for the kids it might be ‘presents’. For a Christian believer we might get words like: ‘peace & goodwill’, ‘Saviour’, or even ‘Jesus’.

But as I've been going through the Christmas story again this year the one word that has struck me is ‘vulnerable’.

It means:

  • That which may be wounded;
  • Able to be physically or emotionally hurt;
  • Open to temptation;
  • Exposed to attack.

And as I read the Christmas story I see nothing but vulnerability.

Jesus, fully God, with the power and majesty and glory of the Sovereign Lord, and yet He became a tiny vulnerable baby. You ladies, especially, know just how vulnerable a baby is just after conception and for the first 3 months, and so it would have been for Jesus. Would God grow and develop safely inside the womb of Mary or would she have a miscarriage? Would Jesus be delivered safely?

And what about after the birth? Born in a barn with animals, vulnerable to all manner of germs, reliant totally on Mary to feed, wind and change Him. A most precarious position for the Son of God to be in.

Then there was Mary, probably a young teenager, engaged to be married, and suddenly told she was pregnant by, of all things, the Holy Spirit. How vulnerable must she have felt?

How could anyone possibly believe this fanciful tale that she had become pregnant by the Holy Spirit? The Child Support Agency has heard some pretty strange stories in its time, but nothing as weird as this.

And what would happen to her? Would Joseph turn his back on her, would her family ostracise her, would she be stoned to death as the Law required for adultery? She must have felt very vulnerable.

What about Joseph?

An upstanding figure in the community, now his reputation would be in tatters. Vulnerable to all the wagging tongues; maybe he would be blamed for sex before marriage; at least, they would say, he didn't watch over his engaged wife carefully.

Then there was Herod, king of the Jews, a nasty bit work by all accounts. When the wise men came to him declaring that they were looking for the one who has been born King of the Jews, he was greatly disturbed. Suddenly this murderous despot felt uneasily vulnerable. He sensed that his position and power were going to be undermined and removed from him; after all, these wise men were on their way to worship this newly born king and not him.

As a result he gave orders that all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were 2 years old and under should be killed. All the parents of newly born sons would have been terrified, and totally vulnerable to the evil dictate of this enraged monarch.

What about the Wise Men?

Herod sent them on their way to search out the child and to report back to him when He was found. And after an angel warned them not to go back to Herod they returned to their country by another route. They too must have felt vulnerable as they defied the orders of this despot. You can imagine them thinking: ‘What if he had spies following us? What if he catches up with us before we reach home and we're brought back for punishment'?

And then, what about the shepherds?

Hated and despised, regarded as the lowest of the low within their society, believed to be thieves and liars. Then, while they were minding their own business this alien creature appears before them in a blaze of light. Dr. Who has nothing on this! Was God going to do them in? Were they now to be rejected by Him as they had been by the society around them? They were terrified and must have felt extremely vulnerable.

The whole Christmas story speaks of vulnerability. And in a sense we are all vulnerable because we are all sinners who have come short of the glory of God and face eternal death as a result.

So if you are in any way worrying about your salvation and feeling vulnerable, then this Christmas story is for you. Because while it contains a message of vulnerability, it's also a message of great security.

You may be frightened, you may be in a difficult position, you may be extremely vulnerable, but don't be afraid, don't fear because Jesus the Saviour, Christ the Lord has been born to you.

‘Do not be afraid’, the Angel said to Joseph, Mary and the Shepherds. And God is speaking those same words of comfort and freedom from vulnerability to us today. He says to each one of us, ‘Don't be afraid this baby is your Saviour’.

So, as we approach this Advent and Christmas season together, let us come afresh to Jesus, our Immanuel, ‘God with us’, the Saviour of mankind and as we do so we'll find that for our fear we'll find peace and for our vulnerability we'll find salvation.

With love in Jesus' name,

Barry Robinson

Below are links to the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany sermons.

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