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Sermon of the Week 
Sunday, December 25 2016

On The Verge Of Christmas….(presented on Christmas Eve)                                                                                                                                                                                   Christmas is here, and we are already on our way to New Year’s Eve, and where has the time gone?                                                                                       

    It was a romantic Christmas Eve moon, when Pedro says, "Hey, mamacita, let's do Weeweechu." Oh no, not now Pedro, let's look at the moon!" said Rosita. Oh, c'mon baby, let's you and I do Weeweechu. I love you and it's the perfect time," Pedro begged. "But I wanna just hold your hand and watch the moon." replied Rosita. Please, corazon, just once, do Weeweechu weeth me." Rosita looked at Pedro and said, "OK, one time, we'll do Weeweechu." Pedro grabbed his guitar all excited and they both sang....."Weeweechu a Merry Chreesmas, Weeweechu a Merry Chreesmas, Weeweechu a Merry Chreesmas, and a Happy New Year. Well,  we’re on the verge of Chreesmas and weeweechu an awesome one!    

     One thing you become good at during the holiday season, is waiting. Mary and Joseph waited 9 months, Jesus had to remain in the womb until the time was fulfilled, the wise men searched and found Jesus when He was about two years old. (They really knew how to stretch out Christmas)                                                                                                          

     "Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached a sermon on 2 December 1928, titled “Christmas  means learning how to wait.” He said, “Those who learn to wait may be restless and discontent in life, because they have seen a vision of greatness in the world of the future and are patiently expecting its fulfillment. They see what is, and look forward to something greater to come. We have pulled out from the Christmas story only the pleasant bits and pieces. But at the same time we know the unpredictability of such an awesome event in which the God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer, draws near to this little planet and now speaks to us. The coming of God is not only a message of joy, but also challenging news for anyone who has chosen comfort and compromise. Without doubt, the people of Christ should rejoice that the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us, and that the Dayspring has visited us, “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” But we must also be reminded that the birth of Jesus brings a difficult path for all who choose to follow.”

     The Christmas story has a power all it’s own…..Only six months into World War I, the scale of slaughter was difficult to comprehend. Hundreds of thousands of German and British soldiers had already died (only a fraction of the nine million lives that would eventually be claimed by the war). Yet if you want an example of the power of Christmas, none would be more powerful than the scene in one corner of the Western Front on Christmas Day 1914, when the enemy soldiers climbed from the trenches and greeted each other on the open battlefield, making no attempt to treat one another as an enemy. The Germans offered cigars and in French they requested English fruit, jams and jellies. It was a spontaneous "Christmas truce," in which they played soccer, exchanged wine and photos, and sang carols in each other’s native languages. However, it didn’t last long and the killing began once again, by New Year’s Day. But it is clear that many lives were spared on that one special day!

     Christmas Day was the turning point of the American Revolution, when General George Washington led his army across the Delaware River to Trenton, New Jersey, in blizzard conditions, catching the enemy troops totally by surprise. That evening, they captured 1,000 Hessian soldiers in a surprise attack that raised the morale of Washington's troops who were cold, tired and hungry, and turned the tide of the war.

     On December 25, 1990, British computer scientist Timothy Berners-Lee introduced the World to the internet which got its first test run on Christmas Day. The internet was birthed on Christmas day. It was a special moment, indeed, when the planet’s first ever web server, sent out the first text to a nearby monitor, and global communication was up and running. Look how far we’ve come in only 27 years!

     On the very edge of the first Christmas, there were events that began to connect together, to form an environment for the impossible to happen which would change the course of history. So it is now, that many small miracles occur in our lives every day and it’s sometimes difficult to identify them as significant moments, or we may totally overlook them all together. It seems that we live in a world where things move so quickly that it blocks our view of God's moving as He connects us with His miracles in our lives. But here on the verge of Christmas, we need to stop and just acknowledge that God is answering prayers and performing a multitude of little miracles right now at this moment, that will change the outcome of our lives..

     Billy Graham said, “It seems that we are a world and a society that is always perched on the brink of something”…..

     That was certainly true of the First Christmas…..The bible calls it “Redeeming the Time”…. It’s God’s way of working within the scope of ordinary every day events to transform them and connect them to a greater plan and outcome!

     Christmas Day it’s self is a redeemed holiday….. around 320 A.D., that’s about 320 years after the birth of Christ, the Roman Emperor Constantine became a Christian. One of the first things he did as a Christian was declare Christianity as the state religion. Everybody in the empire was required to become a Christian. Of course, one of the things he struggled with, was what to do with all of these pagan holidays. But, he wasn’t stupid. He knew that if he took away all the holidays and festivals, he would not be emperor for very long. So he did what some of us do. For example, some people don’t like to observe Halloween by dressing up their kids as ghosts and goblins, and so rather than cancel it altogether, they have Harvest Festival’s, October Fests,  or Hallelujah parties for their kids where they dress up as Bible characters, cartoon characters or super heroes, and talk about the Lord, but still get the candy and the fun.

     So that is what Constantine did with Saturnalia, which was the winter solstice holiday. He turned it into a time to remember Christ’s birth. He called it “Christ’s Mass”, or Christmas. He had all the symbols of Saturnalia redeemed and gave them Christian meaning. He took the Solstice evergreen tree and made it stand for eternal life in Christ, and the Lights on the tree represented Jesus, the light of the world. The holly, with the little thorns speak of the thorns on his brow, and the red beads symbolized the blood of Jesus, and so on with all of the symbols and traditions.

     That’s our mission….to give new meaning to old patterns, and redeem them with a new message that glorifies God and presents the messiah!

     On the verge of the first Christmas I see Joseph, struggling with the news that the woman He’s engaged to, is pregnant, even though they had not been together in that way. I see his struggle as the angel appears and tells him the answer to the mystery. I see his concern with information that was not understandable in the natural sense and still He obeys, in spite of his personal anguish, pain and confusion. With all the backstreet gossip and the malicious slander that he must have been aware was swirling around him, he chose to put God first and move forward.

Joseph shows us that you can obey God, in spite of all the painful and difficult circumstances and situations we find ourselves in. And that’s all the Father  requires. When Joseph received God’s word, he burned his bridges and set out to do what God asked of him, and never looked back.

On the verge of Christmas, what if a young couple in our day, had just began to settle down and prepare for a new arrival, when suddenly, some government bureaucrat said every head of a household in the United States had to go back to their  home of birth, to register for a special tax. So they get in the old model car and drive across country, and when they get to the man’s hometown, all of the motel rooms, hotel rooms and bed and breakfasts are full, and the only place they can stay is in a garage. He takes his wife, who is very pregnant, and in the garage the baby is born, and they lay the baby on a rough, crude workbench.

     When the young man wonders what else could happen to me? A group of street people come in banging on the garage door and saying, "Let us in," and these street people fall down on their knees and say, "Glory to God in the highest. We've come to worship this baby."  Then, three stretch limousines pull up and ambassadors to the United Nations get out and bring gold and silver and diamonds, and lay them at the baby's feet. Then the governor of the state calls up the National Guard to kill all the babies in that town, and he has another dream and God tells him "You better get out of there and go to South America in a hurry." Can you imagine? (perhaps in light of that, your mess isn’t so messy after all)!

     Christmas is located somewhere between darkness and light, between hopelessness and hope, between sickness and wholeness, between the end of one thing and the beginning of another,  between the impossible and all things are possible!

     Wow, on the verge of Christmas, things will happen that you can’t get your head around, but keep listening to the voice of the originator, the creator and designer, and you will find that what seems like chaos and confusion, is really just a miracle being born!

     We now know that Jesus was born around September the 29th, but we celebrate on Dec. 25th because that’s what redemption does…. I asked a friend, who was celebrating their birthday, if this was their biological birthday or their new birth, birthday…. When they were born physically or when they were born again. Why don’t we celebrate our redeemed birthday, when we received our new birth, as much as we celebrate the biological birthday? One will perish, but the new birth will last forever!

     The Jesus we celebrate is a redeemer. That’s what He does. He takes things that are full of evil and wickedness and transforms them into things that give glory and honor to God. That’s what He’s doing right now on the verge of Christmas Day, 2016! I believe that Mary conceived on December 25th which is Hanukah, or the Jewish festival of lights. “For they that dwell in darkness have seen a great light”. Nine months later, she gave birth around September 29th to the Light of the world!

     Here on the verge of Christmas, perhaps you have felt like you are stuck in the darkness? Or you have felt fearful about the future, perhaps you were depressed about your life’s circumstances? Maybe you were worried about a loved one and confused about the why of it all? God wants to allow you to give birth to His light in that situation and bring forth the power of His Redemption, to cause that situation to give Him glory and honor!

     Lovingly, deliberately, The creator of everything, somewhere in the timeless past, wrote a name, and as He writes, He is already feeling and experiencing the pain. "JESUS", the name that transcends time and eternity. The name which stands at the crossroads in the life of every Adam. For at that crossroad, which each must choose, is the path for their eternity, for it was love that gave us Emmanuel, God with us, in the form of Jesus. The Author would write Himself into his own story as His pin dripped with love. The Word would become flesh. He, too, would be born. He, too, would be human. His first scar to bear would be the birth scar. He, too, would have feet and hands of flesh. He, too, would have tears and trials and blood. And most importantly, He, would have a choice. Emmanuel would be born at the crossroads of life and death, blessing and curse, the old and the new.                                                                                                                                    

     The Author knows well the weight of that decision. He pauses as He writes the page of his own pain and testing. He could stop. Certainly, the Creator has a choice. But how can a Creator not create? How can a Writer not write? And how can Lover not love? So, He chooses life, even though it also means that He has chosen death. With His understanding of the scope of history, the Author of Life completes the story. He drives the spike in the flesh and rolls the stone over the grave. For the choice He will make, has already been made from the beginning, and He takes His writer’s pen and then He adds to the story of history, the story of humanity and the story of eternity…...“Let there be light!”

     I was thinking about the Christmas parade in Key West and the floats that were throwing candy to the crowd, along the route. How the children would rush in behind the float and grab up the candy. But I noticed a little boy across from us, that was getting crowded out by the other kids, who were quicker than him and he was getting no candy. I could tell by his face that he was getting upset, and frustrated. At that point I had grabbed a lot of candy myself and when the next float that came by, I waited till the other kids had grabbed it all up, and as they turned to go back, I threw a handful at the feet of the little boy who was still looking, hoping some had been left. He grabbed it up and looked around to see where it came from. I waved and for the next several floats I did the same thing.

     I thought how much that is like our Lord, when we don’t seem to get a fair shake, or others are getting blessed and it seems we’re getting left out….He makes sure He drops some blessings close enough that we can’t miss it, and it is in those times that we know He had us on His mind. I can see Him waving now, letting us know to get ready, because it’s about to drop and it will be in a way that we can’t miss it!

     The lover of your soul, is on the verge of sending His gifts your way, because He’s a giver and He can’t help Himself. That’s what givers do. He’s a lover and He can’t help but love you…He’s a redeemer and that’s what redeemers do!

     I want to give everyone a Christmas ornament today.

When you go out and get a Christmas tree, you set it up and you immediately set about decorating it and putting some glitter and bling, bling on it. Otherwise it would just be a fir tree in your house. It wouldn’t look like much if you didn’t transform it into a Christmas tree. That’s what I want this Christmas ornament to remind us all of. That each of us has been given the power to decorate the situations and circumstances of life and transform them by the power of redemption….It’s the gift you give yourself that everyone else enjoys and benefits from also. That’s what He told us to do isn’t it? Redeem the times for the days are evil….

     Ephesians 5:15 “See then that you exercise self-discipline, and be wise. v16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. v17 Do not be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is”.                                                                                Christmas proclaims that everything is subject to transformation, as we allow God to show us a higher and better way. No matter how it is, it doesn’t have to stay that way.

     And what better scripture to wrap this up and put a ribbon on it, but… Isaiah 9:2  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined. v3….they joy before You according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. v4 For you have broken the yoke of their burden, and the rod off of their shoulder, even the rod of their oppressor… v6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. v7 Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from this time forth, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this”!

Posted by: AT 07:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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