Sunday, December 16, 2012
Sermon Dec. 15-16, 2012
Title: Christ is the one to come, rejoice in this Good News!
Text: Luke 7:20 & 22
20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.
As a little boy, I use to get presents from relatives in Pennsylvania. As the presents came in they would get arranged according to whom they were for and then … a certain little boy … I’m not saying who, would start counting the presents! If one of his brothers or sister had more presents, it could take the joy of the Christmas season and make it joyless.
Today many of us are wrestling with the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut this past Friday. For many their Christmas has become joyless or nonexistent. But as we look at the Advent banner for today we can Rejoice in the one to come, who will take all our pain away and has given us joy in His Gospel message that:
Christ – the promised one - is the one to come and we can rejoice in this Good News!
The work of John the Baptist was talked about this past weekend. He was the one who would prepare the way, for another, but who?
The disciples of John had been reporting all these things to him. Of Jesus’ healing the Centurion’s servant … you remember the story … from earlier in Luke chapter 7:
“Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof … But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; … 9 When Jesus heard these things, … and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:7-9)
Or, the funeral procession of the widow’s son from the town of Nain that Jesus came upon. And he said a little further in Luke 7:
“Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched, the man and he said, “Young man … I say to you, arise.” And he gave him back to his mother.(Luke 7:14-15)
This is the question that John wanted his disciples to answer …
“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
John knew that his own calling was to prepare the way … to be the one crying out in the wilderness … to point his followers to the messiah, the Christ, the one who was to come. The question that they asked of Jesus, “Is it you? Are you the one? What should we tell John?”
Jesus, answering them said:
22 … “Go … tell John what you have seen and what you've heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Christ is the one to come, rejoice in this Good News!
I had a nice sermon prepared but when I came here to run through it on Friday, the events of the day in Connecticut overwhelmed my preparation.
How do you deal with tragedy of this magnitude? How do you deal with loss of life, especially when it involves children between 6-7 years of age?
On Friday I was driving to an elementary school in Pontiac in the afternoon to play my banjo with a co-worker for a program for mentally challenged students. Many of these students are between the ages of 18-26 and are being prepared for living outside the home. As I drove to the John F. Kennedy Elementary school on Baldwin Rd. in Pontiac, I felt a connection to the school and the teachers in Connecticut, confronted and dealing with an event of unspeakable magnitude. When I drive I like to listen to Sports Talk Radio and as I was driving the radio host comes on and says, “I want someone of faith to call and explain this to me!”
What he was really saying, was … where was God? Why would a loving God allow this type of tragedy and suffering?
Well, I turned into the parking lot and entered the school and met the teachers and students, carrying my big banjo case and having no problem getting in or finding my friend, the teacher that invited us, and where we were to go. Many of these students have debilitating physical illness, some appear normal but have mental problems and others that are dealing with all of the above. We all had a joy filled time and both my friend Paul and I were blessed to play for them and to see these dedicated teachers and workers who love and care deeply for these special children of God.
Pastor Merrell and I attended our circuit meeting this past Tuesday and Pastor Tom Fisher did a sermon on God interrupting lives through the preaching of John the Baptist. Well, there was a terrible interruption this past Friday and Tom’s message said, "We must always be prepared for being interrupted by God". This interrupting opens us all up to God’s will and is one of the core objectives of Advent's message; … prepare ye the way of the Lord!"
My life, like yours, was interrupted Friday both by tragedy but for me, also joy. As I wrestled with the sad loss of life in Connecticut one minute, I was blessed by the faces of God’s special need children being cared for and loved by these teachers and workers, many like Paul's friend Deb who are Christian and who bring through their vocation, God’s caring hands to His special children in need.
… rejoice in this Good News!
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Jesus asks and wants to know a very important thing from these disciples who were following Him.
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings' courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John.
Is there no one greater than John? This prophet who would prepare the way for the Lord? When you think of some of the prophets; Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and on and on and John … is the greatest of all of these …
Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
Christ is the one to come, for you, who are least in the Kingdom of God. Rejoice in this Good News!
You, who are the least in the Kingdom, are greater than John! Think about that! Christ has lifted you up. He has redeemed you. He has made you His own. He has called you to be his child. He has washed you clean in the blood of the Lamb. He will feed you on His very body and blood given and shed for you.
You who deserve death have been given new life in Him. Rejoice in Him!
Martin Luther who was not only a great theologian and defender of the faith but quite a good hymn writer as well wrote this little hymn that it a great comfort for all who live this Christian life of faith:
“Feelings come and feelings go, And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God--Naught else is worth believing.
Though all my heart should feel condemned, For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart, Whose Word cannot be broken.
I'll trust in God's unchanging Word, Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away ... HIS WORD SHALL STAND FOREVER!”
― Martin Luther
Christ is the one to come, rejoice in this Good News!
This Advent as we watch and wait, know that there is one who knows you and has known you from the foundation of the world and has called you to be His own and has forgiven you your sin so that the righteousness that you had before sin came into the world could be restored to you in Christ, by faith.
You who are least in the kingdom of God:
Christ is the one who came for you. Rejoice in this Good News!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.