From a sermon by Lancelot Andrewes, English bishop and scholar, (1555-1626)
The angel told the shepherds that the child born in the city of David was ‘a Savior…’ His name was Jesus, which means ‘God will save.’ And surely, there is no joy in the world like the joy of a man that is saved. There is no joy so great, no news so welcome to one who is a lost man and ready to perish, as to hear that someone will save him. If one in is danger of perishing by sickness, and then to hear of one who will make him well again; or if one is to die by sentence of the law, and then to hear of one who will grant a pardon to save his life; or if one is about to be killed by enemies, and then to have one that will rescue him and set him in safety– tell any one of these that they have one who will save them– a ‘savior’– and it is the best news he ever heard in his life. There is joy in the name of a Savior. And even this way, this Christ child can be a Savior. But this is not His primary work.
There is a more important matter, a greater salvation that He came for. It may be we do not need any of these others– we are not presently sick, in no fear of the law, and in no danger of enemies. But that purpose for which Jesus primarily came is a saving that we all need, and none but He can help us with that. We all, therefore, have cause to be glad for the birth of this Savior.
When we hear of ‘being saved,’ we usually think only about the saving of our skin and of our temporary bodily life, but the more important saving we do not think about. But we must not forget that there is another life, and the dangers there are greater, and the destruction there is more to be feared than any destruction here. It would be well for us to be sometimes reminded of that. Besides our skin and flesh, we have a soul, and it is our better part by far; and that also has need of a Savior. There is a destroyer from which that soul must be saved, and that must be considered. Indeed our chief thought and care should be how to be saved from the destruction of that soul, which is destroyed by sin.
It was for this reason that a ‘Savior has been born for you,’ and that is indeed ‘good news of a great joy for all people,’ for ‘he will save the people from their sins.’
Luke 2:10-11 — The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Matthew 1:20b-21 — …An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
II Timothy 1:8-10 — So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life– not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Prayer of intercession by Lancelot Andrewes:
Let us pray for churches throughout the whole world: for their truth, unity, and stability; that in all churches, charity may flourish and truth may live. For our own church; that what is lacking in it may be supplied; that what is unsound, may be corrected; that all heresies, schisms, and scandals may be removed. Correct the wandering, convert the unbelieving, and increase the faith of those who do believe in Jesus.
We pray for the clergy; that they may rightly discern, that they may rightly walk, and that while they teach others, they themselves may learn. And for the people; that they seek not to be wise above their measure, but may be persuaded by reason.
We pray for governments, for their stability and peace; for our own nation and cities, that they may fare well and prosperously, and be freed from all danger.
We pray for the rising generation, that as they increase in age they may also increase in wisdom, and in favor with God and man.
May it please Thee of Thy merciful compassion to behold and to relieve the miseries of the poor and the captives, and to strengthen them that are falling.
May it please Thee graciously to accept our service, to raise our minds to heavenly desires, to look on us with the eyes of thy compassion, and to preserve the souls of us and ours from everlasting damnation.
And finally, may it please Thee to grant unto me, and to those for whom I have prayed, and to all the people of God, an entrance into Thy kingdom, there to behold Thy presence in righteousness and to be satisfied with glory. AMEN.