12/3/2000, Advent 1, Year C
Comings of Christ
hrist has been born a million times anew--- every time He is born in a creature like you. By his own testimony, Jesus "...came that we might have life and have it more abundantly." (Jn. 10:10). God made manifest in us, over and over again, is the consummation of the Father's purpose through the Son. Unless He is "born in us today," we somehow miss the purpose of the Christmas Season.
How will we receive Christ? That is the main question we face in life. In the late 1800's, Thomas Carlyle observed, "If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it." ("Carlyle at His Zenith," Wilson, David, 1927). You are in worship today in testimony to the fact that you and yours will not ignore Christ on His Birthday.
However, there are some things we have to do in order to be ready for Christmas, to allow that "new life" to be born in us.
First, we need to become expectant; not exactly like Mary was expectant, but more like the expectancy that engulfed Joseph. A baby is coming--- a Special Baby is coming. Now, all babies are special. Parents and Grandparents think they are all beautiful, but let us say that some are more beautiful than others. I try to act as if they are all beautiful, but maybe its a "wee little fib" to always say, "My, that's a beautiful baby!" I heard of one pastor who got around it by saying, "My, that's a baby!" Anyhow, lets let the expectation that fills the air also fill our hearts.
The best way to become vulnerable to the Season of Christmas, Christ's First Coming, is to come to Worship every time the church doors are opened. I will be preaching about Christmas from now through Christmas Eve Sunday. The music will be extra meaningful and wonderful. We hope the Christmas Tree does not fall over again this year, especially during the Children's Sermon. Three different sermons each week will educate, inspire and build expectancy in our souls.
And, did I mention the "Festival of Christmas Art." There will be world class pieces from famous artists from Frabel all the way down to an original Allred original. Next Sunday afternoon and then at 6:00 p.m. our Choir presents their Christmas program. I attended the Christmas meeting of Atlanta's Church Women United last Friday at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation. My part was bird calls, jokes, and a tiny meditation; but the hit of the show was Father Stanley Harricus' lecture on "Art in Orthodoxy." Their Sanctuary is an art gallery of original mosaics made of thousands of tiny pieces of tile. As do our priceless stained glass windows, their mosaics tell the story of the entire scope of Good News. The purpose of Christian art is to convey a message and to capture our hearts. Being in this Sanctuary, which art students often come to sketch, paint and photography, will build our expect! ancy.
We all need to allow the Spirit of the Season grab us anew. There's a song in the air but will we sing it? Will we whistle a happy tune as we get ready for Christmas?
Secondly, when we are expectant we know that we need to prepare. We have time to trim the tree, decorate the house, and shop for special gifts for those we love. All of this usually secular activity can become a form of worship as we think more deeply about its Christian significance. As you prepare your Christmas Tree at home think of it as an art form, a way to communicate to all who see it how special this time of year is in our faith. Jesus is coming again on Christmas Day, and we will be prepared.
God Almighty prepared for centuries to send His Son. Christ's intervention into our realm was not a last minute correction of a failed plan of the Divine. God planned it all along for He knew how fickle His creatures would be. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises that the later Old Testament prophets began to make as they were given a vision of what God was soon going to do. In today's Old Testament text Jeremiah is saying, "The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good I have promised them. At that time I will bring to the throne of David a righteous descendant." (33:14, NLT). This promise points to Christ who came to set up a Kingdom through the hearts of believers. Christ is the righteous descendant, or branch, sprouting from the royal blood line of the Old Testament.
Finally, we must also allow the Father to give us a Spirit of Hope as we expect and prepare for Christmas.
It may be a bit hard for Americans to be filled with hope this Christmas. At least, the pollsters are saying that we are concerned about the uncertain outcome of our Presidential election. Indeed, the whole world is tense for our leader will be their leader too. Marilyn can tell you that I have spent too much time holding the TV remote, surfing from Fox Election Alerts to CNN's Breaking News. I too am too tuned into the tempest of our times. I think it is inevitable to be concerned for the New Leader of the World's only Superpower will have a great deal to do with holding onto what peace we have. We do not cherish the endtime statements of Luke who spoke of there being, "distress among the nations... People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world." Yet, even amid that future eventuality Luke encourages believers to, "...stand up and raise your heads, because your red! emption is drawing near." (21:27-28, NRSV). There is always Hope in Christ!
In the midst of horror there is hope--- the same "glad tidings of great joy to all people" (Luke 1:10), that came down at the Manger will be born in us and renew our hope.
We will be ready for Christmas--- the coming of Christ anew. Come Lord Jesus, Come!
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor