We planned a video sermon. (Our meeting space is under renovation, so we’re a remote church for the next two weeks).
I recorded a video sermon. (It was profound, thoughtful, encouraging, and quite possibly world changing).
The sermon would not upload. (We tried alternatives & work arounds. We used almost ALL the words. We even looked for some deep connection between this failure and the true meaning of Christmas…)
Eventually, we moved to a lesser option.
Here are the Cliff Notes to this week’s sermon…
- Christmas can be hard.
- For most of us, it’s not The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
- That’s okay. It’s not supposed to be.
- Instead, it supposed to be the start of something. A gateway to somewhere new. A beginning.
- When Jesus was born, a select few people recognized that nothing would ever be the same again. Not everybody got it. And those who did didn’t know what it meant, or what this new covenant would look like.
- I don’t get it, either. We have certainty & mystery…hope and disappointment…waiting and giving up…all rolled in together.
- Last week, Andy said, “Christmas isn’t for little kids. Christmas is for grown ups.”
- I’ve been thinking about that all week. I think he’s right.
- As I read the prophet Isaiah, through whom God said, “Forget [the past] – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See – I have already begun. Do you see it?” (Isaiah 43:8), I wrestle with how much I WANT to see what God is doing…and how often I don’t. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.
- Something started the day Jesus was born. It’s going on now. We’re part of it.
- As we sing in the gorgeous carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing (and yes, it’s fine to imagine an angel named Harold…) Joyful all ye nations rise…Join the triumph of the skies…With angelic host proclaim…Christ is born in Bethlehem.
- These are our marching orders.
- They transcend glitter and Pinterest. They supersede our shopping list. They invite us to raise our eyes and hearts to behold something altogether other taking place right here in our midst.
- They tell us to move towards this new reality: Rise. Join. Proclaim.
- Of course, there’s resistance.
- What Jesus started at Christmas is so important, Satan does anything he can to smother us during this season – family arguments, loneliness, depression…schedules that are impossibly crazy. Shopping.
- His evil minions counter God’s call. They lie, screaming, Sit! Leave! Shut Up!!! Somehow this translates into most of us being pretty sure someone else is doing Christmas better than we are.
- Jesus doesn’t deny any of our reality. He CHANGES our reality. He looks at our chaos and says, “Yeah…whatever. Come be saved…”
- If you’re looking for encouragement this Christmas season, here’s one of the places I’m finding it: the second letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the people in Corinth. It’s filled with his testimony of this weird reality we inhabit once we decide to follow Jesus:
- We fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen (4:18)
- We live by faith and not by sight (5:7)
- Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new creation. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. (5:17)
- We can’t DO any of these things. (Practically speaking, how does one fix one’s gaze on something one cannot see?) But we can participate in them. Jesus makes them possible. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas.
- If you’re struggling this Christmas? Focus on New Year’s. That’s where Jesus is. Out ahead of us, leading the way, inviting us to turn the page/begin again/start a new season (choose your favorite metaphor). Ask Him what this means for you.
- I know this sounds simple and hokey and like it couldn’t possibly make a difference. Try it anyway. See what happens. I trust Jesus to come through.
- Let me pray for us…
Jesus, thank you for who you are and where you are and everything you make possible. Bless us this Christmas. Lift us up above the noise and fear, the pressure and sorrow. Show us things we cannot see. Make new life in you our reality. Happy Birthday, Lord. We love you. In your name we pray…Amen.
Thanks for joining us for this unique Sunday “gathering.” Have a blessed, merry, happy, surprisingly good Christmas.
We’ll be back at the Residence Inn on Sunday, January 1, 2017.