Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sermon from this weekend.

Thanks to a reminder yesterday, here's the sermon from this past weekend. 

The caveat I through out, however, is that it may not sound like the sermon you heard.  I believe I preached a slightly different sermon at each of the three services this week.  So if you think you heard something, but don't see it's possible it's words that the Spirit gave me in the midst of preaching.  That being said, the basic point at all services was hopefully the same...

Thanks for reading. 

January 4, 2014
2nd Sunday of Christmas

Jeremiah 31:7-14
Psalm 147:12-20
Ephesians 1:3-14
John 1:(1-9)10-18

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. 

In my previous call, I sang in a community choir.  Our Christmas Cantata one year was called Hope Has Hands.  We had the opportunity to sing the story of Jesus’ birth. 

The chorus to one of those songs was the following:

The Word became flesh and lived among us heaven was shining it’s light, he was unfailing love and faithfulness
The Word became flesh and now hope is alive. 
The Word became flesh and now hope is alive. 

That is the message we hear in our gospel reading from John this morning.  The Word became flesh…and brought grace and truth into the world. 

In our celebration of Christmas, we celebrate God becoming flesh, living among us and bringing us grace and truth.  That’s a life-changing event, don’t you think?  Heck, that’s a world-changing event. 

Because, think about it, God came down to dwell with us. 

Think about your homes….if you are single…how did it change when you got married?  How did you share that space?  How did things change because someone else lived there, too? 

Maybe you, like me, grew up as a single child for several years and then “Surprise!” you were a big brother or a big sister!  How did that change things?  Now that you would live with a new addition to the family? 

Or maybe, you’ve been living alone for a while and now a son or daughter is moving back in or you may be moving in with them….either way, life changes when someone comes to dwell with you…and that, in essence is what we’re talking about with today’s Gospel lesson. 

The presence of God in the world among us, changes life as we know it. 

The Christmas story we hear this morning, isn’t like the one we heard on Christmas Eve.  The birth of Christ is told differently through the Gospel of John.  Our text this morning does not include Wise Men, angels, shepherds, an inn, or even Joseph and Mary.  The Christmas story that John tells, points us to God through Jesus Christ. 

The Christmas story that John tells, is exactly what all of scripture does…it points us to Christ. 

When we gather together to read or hear scripture, we do so to hear God speaking to us, and when we do that, we listen for how God is present in our lives, and how we meet Jesus through the Word of God.  

As we deep our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, through scripture, we are aware that God came down to us, to be present with us, with all humanity throughout history….and today. 

Through the Old Testament prophets and stories, we read about how God was present with God’s people throughout time. 

God loved and blessed the world. 
People messed up.
God forgave them…and continued to love them. 

God loves and blesses the world.
We mess up.
God forgives us and continues to love us. 

We see this cycle throughout all of scripture and in the world around us today. 

As we listen to the reading from John this morning, thinking about Emmanuel, God with us, the Word becoming flesh and living among us, we hear a Christmas story that points not only to Jesus, but to the presence of God in the world around us and the presence of God in our lives. 

And as I said earlier…that is a life changing event. 

We see the presence of God as we gather in this place, as we confess our sins and are blessed with forgiveness. 

We see the presence of God as we take of this bread and wine, a meal that was given and shed for the whole world. 

Yet, we also see the presence of God in places where we least expect it to be…

God is present with families who struggle to make life decisions for a loved one who is ill.

God is present with the children and families throughout the world who go to bed hungry every night. 

God is present in war-ridden and poverty stricken nations. 

Emmanuel, means God with us. Whoever hears that, hears that God is with them, through thick and thin, through bad and good…God is up to something, always.

As we begin a new calendar year, God is with us. 

Have you all made any resolutions? 

One year I decided that it would be the year for a diet resolution.  So I started the Cheesecake diet.  Yup, you heard me right, the Cheesecake diet.  I figure if there can be a Subway diet, and a Taco Bell drive-thru diet, there can be a cheesecake diet. 

It started off well… 
New Year’s Day: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.
January 2nd: Double Chocolate Cheesecake.
January 3rd… New York style cheesecake with my lunch… J 

It helped that I did a wedding for friends who made cheesecake for their reception, which stocked my fridge for a good while. 

I know, it was a silly resolution…which, wasn’t really all that healthy…but the new year does offer that time to reflect upon last year and think about changes to be made for the year ahead. 

It think it’s a good time for us as a congregation to think about what it means for God to be present in our lives. 

What does it mean for us to hear the Christmas story, to think about how God came down to earth just because God loves us?

What does it mean to us as a congregation that God is on a mission in the world around us?  How are we jumping aboard that mission? 

How are our own ideas, opinions, or agendas hindering God’s work in us as individuals and as a congregation? 

God did not send Jesus into the world to pull people out of the struggles, challenges, fears, pains, and sicknesses.  God sent Jesus into the world to be present with us as we face those challenges and struggles. 

God is with us in the midst of all that we face…God’s resolution never changes. 

God loves us, even when we mess up, and continues to bless us…as we struggle, talk, pray and move forward in faith that God can still work with us to teach the world about a God who loves and saves everyone. 

God’s resolution never changes.  BUT….it changes us!

Because that’s what it’s all about…God working through us, in spite of us, to proclaim the good news of forgiveness, grace and unending love. 

That is the message we hear each Christmas that permeates our lives every day of the year…

And now may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and let all God’s people say, amen.

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