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Nov 26 06

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Sermon Notes for Sunday, November 26, 2006

Why Christmas Matters

Isaiah 9:1-7

          Ask a child if Christmas matters.  You will get a definite: ‘YES!’  Try and not have Christmas one year and see what would happen!  Christmas is important for adults, too.  In John Grisham’s book Skipping Christmas, the Kranks tried it and it didn’t work.

          Christmas matters for more than just the reasons given by the culture we live in.  Theologically, Christmas matters because it is the beginning of God’s great project.  It is the entrance into the world of sin and hurt by the very God who created a world to reflect his image; but we broke the mirror that was to reflect his image.

          Christmas matters because it is the entrance of hope and life, real life, into a world that stifles hope and perverts life.  Society tells us that this life is all there is so we need to grab all the stuff we can and if there is anything out there it is just an amorphous pantheistic reuniting with the stuff of the universe. 

          Christmas matters because it leads to the celebration of this Sunday.  This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Christian Year.  Next Sunday, Advent One, is the beginning of a new year in the Christian Calendar.  Christmas leads to Christ the King Sunday.  The goal of the entire work of God is Christ reigning over the entire creation.

          Americans would not have a king, yet we are fascinated by the trappings of royal power.   The tourists flock to Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and all of those places that exude royalty. Magazines that feature Princess Diana on the cover still sell thousands of copies years after her death.

          The prophet reminds Israel that one day a child would be born and he would bring great light and on his shoulders would be authority to rule and his kingdom would know no end.  Christmas matters for it celebrates the birth of that king. 

But this king would be different from the kings we know about.  Read the histories and you find most of the time was spent trying to hang on to the throne, but this king would relinquish the throne and live among us and would offer himself as a servant to all.  Instead of chopping off heads to protect the throne, he would lay down his life for his people.

Because of that, this resurrected king would become king of kings and lord of lords and he would, and will, reign over all of God’s creation.  This text in Isaiah looks forward to that day in anticipation.  The New Testament acknowledges that his reign has begun but that it is not yet complete.  But it will become complete when evil is banished and defeated once and for all.[1]

          This theme is found in a lot of cathedrals in Europe.  Over the high alter is an image of Christ seated on a throne with his arms outstretched calling for his people.  Christ is king now in a real sense, but his kingdoms fulfillment is postponed so that we have time to align ourselves with that kingdom and to gain entrance into it.[2]

          Christmas matters, my friends, it is God’s answer to the problem of human sin and estrangement.

          Christmas matters for that child born in humble surroundings is really the king of kings.

          Christmas matters for we see a king who came not to be served, but to lay down his life as a ransom for many.

          Christmas matters.

Devotional Guide.  Monday, November 27, 2006.  Advent is both a time of thanks for the gift of Christ to us in past time and a time of anticipation of his second coming.  It contains both threat and promise.[3]  His birth presupposes his second coming to inaugurate God’s kingdom.  1 Corinthians 15:12-28.  Advent celebrates his first and second coming.  We talk a lot about the first one, what does the second mean to you?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006.  The countdown has started, the clocks are ticking.  We are reminded each day how many shopping days are left.  The scriptures for the first part of Advent remind us of the coming of the kingdom.  Matthew 25:1-12 remind us to be vigilant in our kingdom preparations.  Are we as vigilant in preparing for the second coming as we are to celebrate the first coming?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006.  For many Jews of Jesus’ day the Babylonian exile was not over.  True, they were home; but, they were still under the domination of a foreign power, they were paying taxes to Rome and had Roman soldiers in Jerusalem.  They were awaiting the exile to finally end.  Into that mix came John the baptizer, telling them to repent and be baptized.  Baptism was for those on the outside wanting to come in, not for those on the inside, they thought.  How does John’s call, Matthew 3:1-12, sound to us on the inside?  Are we taking for granted that it can’t apply to us?

Thursday, November 30, 2006.  ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ is a question that will be asked many times in the next few weeks.  Kids have a list.  Adults have a list too, but usually a somewhat different kind of list; peace, family, love.  Maybe we should ask the question this way, ‘What do you want from Christ this year?’  How would that change the answer if at all? Peace, family, love, closer relationship with God?  How would you answer that question?

Friday, December 1, 2006.  A lot of people have unrealistic expectations this time of year.  They hope the ‘holiday’ will fix their family, or bring a wayward child home.  But it’s not the holiday that will fix their families.  The holiday doesn’t have the power. But he, whose birth we celebrate can.  But we have to bring our brokenness to him.  In broken families we all must acknowledge that we are part of the problem; we must be willing to forgive; we must be willing to change ourselves.  What expectations do you have?  Are you willing to do the hard things to bring about change?


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[1] 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Philippians 2:1-10; Romans 8:18-39; Hebrews 1:1-4; Revelation 1:4-8; 4:1-11; 5:1-14.

[2] 2Peter 3:9

[3] Handbook of the Christian Year,  page 52.

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