Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sermon: Love Revealed

Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98

Did you notice what the major theme of the Psalm that we read

together was? It was about the joy that we feel over all that God has done: from the beauty and power of creation, to the love that God showers upon us. So, since we are talking about joy, I want to share a fun Christmas story with you.

A certain father declared that Christmas was going to be different this year. The father called a family conference and challenged his family to be more disciplined in the management of their time during the busy Christmas season. They had to curtail excessive spending on gifts. He talked about better relations between visiting relatives and a more congenial atmosphere around their home. He brought his speech to a crescendo with his final rally cry, "Let's make this the BEST Christmas EVER!” His little second grade son countered the big motivational speech by noting, "But dad, I don't see how we could ever improve on the first Christmas."[1]

True that. Right? I mean, as wonderful as it is for all of us to be sitting here in worship in church, where it is warm, and we are in the presence of friends and family. Just think what it would have been like worship Jesus himself. It would truly make you want break out in song with the angels. Of course, we should still want to break forth in song, even today. That was what the psalm was all about.

When love comes into the world, songs of joy break forth from our lips. And Christ is an ultimate expression of love, so the coming of Christ into our world is cause for celebration at the highest level – yes there is quiet reflection, yes there is time to absorb the inner peace he brings, but there is also the time to shout out loud, to sing with all of our heart and voice and say “Praise God!”

Lots of Bible passages react like that. Isaiah 52:7-10 says:

How beautiful upon the mountains

    are the feet of a messenger

    who proclaims peace,

    who brings good news,

    who proclaims salvation,

    who says to Zion, “Your God rules!”

Listen! Your lookouts lift their voice;

    they sing out together!

    Right before their eyes they see the Lord returning to Zion.

Break into song together, you ruins of Jerusalem!

The Lord has comforted his people and has redeemed Jerusalem.

The Lord has bared his holy arm in view of all the nations;

    all the ends of the earth have seen our God’s victory.

Years ago Christ was born into the world, and people saw it as good news, it gave them hope. For through him God brings peace, salvation, victory, and justice. They saw in him a new era where God would rule, people would be comforted, and their nation restored and set free.

Today we also stand in need of hope,

There is too much hopelessness, too much war, too much loss, too much injustice, too much mourning. People want a messenger that brings us such good news that everyone bursts into song. The funny thing is, we claim to already have it. As Christians, we say that we have the good news. That is what the word ‘gospel’ means – good news. So we say that we have the hope that the world needs. The words of O Holy Night, on the screen remind us that in the night of our dear savior’s birth, there is a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. We have good news. That’s our claim.

So I ask you, what good news do we have to offer in this Christmas season? What is it about Jesus that is still good news to us today? [open it up for discussion]

Another way of asking that question is to ask ourselves: Where is love being born still today? Because Jesus is God’s love, so where do we see God at work? Where is that love of God evident – where can you see it? [more discussion]

You see, when loves comes into the world,

songs of joy break out upon our lips! And we need joy. Not just happiness – but joy. Joy which “has depth that sees one through the deepest, most somber days” (Seasons of the Spirit, 2016) You can be joyful even when sad, you can be joyful even when broken, because you know that there is something greater than the sadness, something bigger than your brokenness. And it is hard to be quiet when you realize this joy, you want to sing about it, you want to shout about it, you want to decorate trees, and string up bright lights that will shine in the darkest nights, you want to share that love with others through giving gifts – all of this is what Christmas should be.

As the angel said: “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” He will establish justice in the world rightly, he will establish justice among all people fairly. He has come. He has been born. Love has broken into the world.

[1] ChristianGlobe Networks, Inc., Humor from ChristianGlobe

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