Jesus is Eternal, not just for Christmas

A sermon on choosing Real Love in the Eternal Jesus at Christmas, based on Philippians 1:3-11 (Advent 2C).

Introduction 

We see lots of adverts and announcements in the run-up to Christmas.  Each one says “choose me!”  Choose this product, this activity, this charity (this image of happiness).  Often we are enticed with an image of love – a couple, a family, a community.  It’s all a bit idealised and not always very real; if people don’t already have love and happiness, then why should it be different on December 25th

Scripture 

Paul writes to his sisters and brothers in Philippi with real affection.  He is in prison, unable to go out or to do the things he would like to do, unable to apply the wisdom that he has learnt – rather like us in our mortal bodies, stuck where we are in time and space.  Being in prison means that Paul is waiting for execution, yet he has joy, hope and encouragement from the Philippians, because:

  • He can see what God has started in them – and that God will finish the job, making them perfect and ready for Christ’s return;
  • They have been totally committed to Paul – through thick and thin – (even waiting for death), he knows God’s love through them;
  • This is real love, not some mushy Christmas advert love;
  • Paul says that we can tell this love is real, because (five off):
    • Makes them alert, ready and determined to do God’s will;
    • Helps them to discern right from wrong;
    • It will ensure that sin can’t stick to them for long;
    • It enables them to work constantly with God for good; and
    • It shows the (true) glory to God to other people[1].   
  • This real love will prepare them for Christ’s return.

Application 

In this season of Advent we look forward to Christmas, to celebrating the birth of Jesus.  We also look forward to Jesus returning in power and triumph, when our freedom of choice will disappear forever.  Human beings will no longer be free to choose ignorance and selfishness, loneliness, war and cruelty. 

You who chose Jesus Christ will get your eternal reward, free from all the ills of the world, free from the limits of your mortal bodies, free from the limits of time and space – free of charge.  Amen, come Emanuel, come Lord Jesus!


[1] Whether they take any notice or not!

Waiting … Patience

A Sermon on 2Peter 3:8-15a (Year B, Advent 2)

Aim:  To see our history and future with God’s perspective.

Waiting for Christ’s Return

The early church had a problem:

  • Many believers expected Jesus to return in their lifetime, but he had not.
  • Many had died waiting, even some leaders had been executed for their faith!

Where was Jesus?  Why hadn’t he come back to save them from their earthly trials?

Peter must have felt this personally.  He had known Jesus as a man, as well as anyone could – better than many of Jesus’ own human family.

Peter’s answer is to put things in perspective – in previous verses he give’s the perspective of Creation – earth, water and fire.  In these verses he points out that God’s timing is not ours:

  • God is patient and wants to give people time to turn to Christ and be saved.
  • Peter could not know how many people, because the world is bigger than he knew!
  • Southern Africa, the Americas, East Asia, the Pacific and Australia were unknown to them.

He assures the early church – and us – that the Day of the Lord will come.

  • He uses Jesus own words to describe the suddenness and ferocity of the destruction, which will be total.
  • Everything that we are used to and take for granted will be gone.
  • So, how should we then live?  Patience means salvation!

Waiting for Christmas

We have to wait decades to be united with God, and Creation must wait much longer.  Today we think of both Christ’s First and Second comings:

  • The Jews had to wait hundreds of years for the Messiah; and
  • We’ve had to wait for 2,000 years already for Christ’s return;
  • We could be stuck on this planet, this history, this universe for a long time.

Maybe the annual cycle that we go through is training:

  • Maybe, while the days and years pass we should use this cycle, ride it like a wave;
  • Make the most of every moment (“if you can fill the unforgiving minute, with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run” Kipling).
  • Focus on the eternal, unchanging, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Christianity is for life, not just for Christmas!

Conclusion

We need that refreshment, that renewal, we need to celebrate Jesus’ Birth, a baby, something fresh and innocent and new and wonderful (although babies are demanding too and they take years to mature!)  We need God’s perspective – personal, unexpected, unusual, and refreshing.