12/3/06, Advent-C

“What Are We To Make Of Jesus Christ? ”
Jeremiah 33: 14-16

14The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

  read a story this week of a preacher who met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several wild birds fluttered nervously. The minister asked, "Son, where did you get those birds?" The boy replied, "I trapped them out in the field." "What are you going to do with them?" "I'm going to play with them, and then I guess I'll just feed them to an old cat we have at home."  When the pastor offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, "Mister, you don't want them, they're just little old wild birds and can't sing very well." The pastor replied, "I'll give you $2 for the cage and the birds." "Okay, it's a deal, but you're making a bad bargain." The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling. The minister walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the sky. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ's coming to seek and to save the lost -- paying for them with His own precious blood. "That boy told me the birds were not songsters, but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, 'Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!'”

This is the message of Christmas. God has stepped down the stairs of Heaven with a baby in his arms. This is why we exchange gifts with family and friends at Christmas. In our giving we are reminded of the supreme gift of the Father who gave His Son.


In one of his articles C. S. Lewis points out that this is a question that has something of a comic side. For the real question is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is going to make of an elephant has comic elements about it.”

Christmas is the best idea that anyone has ever come up with. Only God could have thought it up.  God the Father is really giving of Himself in death in order to illustrate just how sorry He is that the persons that He made have gone astray, but He wants to win us back.

In a very real sense we see the whole grand effort wrapped up in a Christmas gift. We freely spend our money to purchase a gift which we present to another person as a tangible expression of our love for them.  The gift of the baby Jesus is communicating something very real and profound. Whenever we grasp its deeper meaning we catch a small bit of the great love that our Heavenly Father has for us.  

A week or so prior to Christmas my Dad took me to The Western Auto Store in Lexington. I gently led him over to the bicycles and acted startled to see a shiny new Schwynn in baby blue, white, red, silver and gold, with a horn and those strips of plastic that would fly in the wind from the hand grips.  I was disappointed when I rode by the next day and didn’t see it in the window. But on Christmas Day it was parked in our living room next to the tree. I must have ridden that bike a thousand miles over the dirt roads of Carolina and almost every day I remembered Father and the love he must have had for me. It made me want to be a better boy.

Later when Daddy preached about the love of God I remembered my bicycle and the love he and God had for me. God Almighty had to keep it simple for us to catch on. But once grasped it grows into the greatest idea ever. Even the anti-God people, who laugh at the simplicity of God’s vision for Christmas, must realize that there is gold beneath the sand. What if God has told the greatest story ever told in University language? Sure, we might have understood part of it by now, but the acted out nativity caught  us as mere lads.

Thousands of neighbors will “Walk Through Bethlehem” in our fabulous nativity pageant this week. Some come to see the real live Camel, Isaiah; named for the Old Testament prophet, along with the author of today’s Lection, Jeremiah, who was given a vision that the God of Israel was going to do something spectacular in order to extend His love to the entire human family. Of course that event was Christmas and we find our salvation as we look back and experience. Isaiah and Jeremiah and the Hebrew Children were captured by the hope and promise of a New Covenant. This revised edition was not chiseled on tablets of stone, but was acted out in a historic act just as we wept again at the manger scene at the end of our “Walk Through Bethlehem.”  And there we were weeping at the manger with all of our college degrees and years of high powered living, careers, children and grandchildren, our international travel and our somewhat polished sophistication, at least for a bunch of kids who used to ride our bicycles on the dirt roads of the southland, but were profoundly moved by the simple story of God’s love in the Babe.


a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
12/3/06, Advent-C