Good morning, and welcome everyone to our church! We are glad you can join us for the third Sunday of Advent, a season when the whole Church rejoices at the coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
The third Sunday of Advent focuses on joy in the anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John it says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light so that all might believe through him” (John 1:6-7). John the Baptist said this of Jesus, “the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal” (John1:27). In movies and in books, we hear of servants who dress their masters, and John places himself below the level of those servants. In Christian history, John stands like a giant, righteous and mighty in word and in deed, yet he believed himself unworthy. So, how can we approach Jesus?
In the Christmas story itself, when Christ was born, the very nature and circumstances of his birth allows us to approach him. He was not born in a palace, guarded against the public like Prince George of England, but he was born in humble circumstances. His first visitors were not dignitaries and royalty, but shepherds, invited by angels, common people living on the skirts of civilization. Most importantly, Christ’s message of salvation was for all people.
We anticipate Christ with joy because his message is especially for those who find themselves on the edge of hope, struggling to find joy, identity and intimacy. All around us are things which kill joy, we sometimes kill our own sense of worth through our deep insecurities, and we oftentimes lack true happiness and satisfaction in our family and friends, or lack of family and friends. Jesus Christ meets all of our needs. He is indeed mighty to bear these burdens, to answer our prayers, and to truly give us joy in a season when some of us may struggle to find joy. For all these reasons, we look eagerly forward to Christ’s birth for he truly is a joy to the world. Amen!
And…when do you stop believing in Santa Claus? When you start getting clothes for Christmas.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
As we read through story after story in the Bible, we learn that when God relentlessly pursues us, there is nothing we can do to escape Him. Moses protested when God first called him to deliver His people out of Egypt’s slavery, and yet became one of the greatest leaders in the history of Israel. Jonah jumped ship resisting God’s call and still ended up in the will of God in Nineveh. David was bypassed to be the next king, even by his own family, but God saw fit to crown him. Paul encountered God on the road after persecuting and killing Christians, and later became one of the greatest Christians ever known.
These accounts all point to one truth – we are not made to run forever. And, fortunately, we don’t have to. God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to save us from eternal damnation. Matthew 18:12 tells us, “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” God does not want anyone to perish. It is His desire that we all find salvation in Him.
Christ came bringing the abundant life - and He did. How tragic it is that many are still so utterly devoid of joy, happiness, and abundance. The ungodly world system continues to stand as our enemy today. Followers of Jesus live in a dimly lit world where righteousness seems like a drab and indulgence is the norm. The battlefields we face at this juncture in our nation’s history seem almost insurmountable. Never has our world had so much, yet feel so depressed, unhappy, confused, frustrated, unfulfilled, and empty.
The approach of Christmas fills everyone, regardless of age, with a feeling of wonder and awe. But, Christmas is more than a day of traditionalism, commercialism, materialism, and pleasure. For us, Christmas celebrates the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The celebration of the amazing birth of Christ truly is a time of praise and gratitude. Jesus has changed virtually every aspect of human life. The Christmas story is the account of God coming into a redeeming relationship with ordinary people. The key to living a full and meaningful life is first discovering this relationship with Jesus Christ, and then following the Lord on an amazing adventure through a life of faith. God is calling us to take part in making His message known, near and far. Jesus told His disciples that when the gospel is preached throughout the world, then His kingdom shall come.
Brothers and sisters, who can you share the Christmas story to this season? God is calling you to take part in sharing the good news. This is the ultimate “Christmas gift” for those who are searching for meaning and direction in life. The measure of influence in God’s kingdom is not power, position or possession, but glory—the glory of God shining through your life and bringing the world to its knees. Make this Christmas a special one for you and yours.