Sermon: Seeing is Believing

Christmas Day 2021 Reflection

At Saint Columba’s United Reformed Church

By the Reverend Trevor Jamison

Luke 2:15

‘When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us go now into Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place.’

They say that seeing is believing, but I guess that depends on what you mean by ‘seeing’. There’s more than one meaning of ‘seeing.’ The first is to perceive with your eyes. Every Christmas morning, in church, worship leaders up and down the country will saying something like, ‘let’s see what we got for Christmas this year.’

So, do show us what you got for Christmas this year!

The shepherds get invited to come and look at the baby; to ‘see’ with their own eyes. That’s important. There was a flesh and blood baby there to be seen. It was not a figment of shepherds’ imagination, brought on by too much alcohol, imbibed to keep warm whilst outdoors looking after the sheep. They saw Jesus with their own eyes.

But there is a second meaning to ‘seeing’. When you say, ‘I see what you mean,’ you’re not talking about what you see with your eyes; you’re talking understanding. I see with my eyes the Christmas gift that someone got you. I see that they must love you to have given you that. These shepherds want to see the child and they want to see what’s going on.

I have seen lots of babies, but I have never looked at a baby and ‘seen’ the Saviour of the world; the one bringing peace on earth to all those whom God favours. (2:11, 14) Yet, along with the shepherds that’s what we are invited to do today. Look, see, it’s a baby, a real flesh and blood, incarnate baby, born in Bethlehem. Look, see (understand) that it’s the Saviour; it’s God favouring us with peace on earth; peace at Christmas.

‘So they [the shepherds] went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.’ (2:16, 17) May we share in their amazement at what God has done; and may we share in the shepherds’ seeing of what this birth means for us and for God’s world. Amen.

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