There Is No Denying Who Jesus Is
Text: John 1:1-14
Jesus had disappeared into the clouds as he ascended into heaven only a few decades earlier, but already controversy was plaguing the Church. A man named Cerinthus seems to have lived in the city of Ephesus and was teaching something radical. Cerinthus claimed that Jesus was not truly God and man, but just a mere man alone.
Meanwhile, a Greek philosophy called Gnosticism was infiltrating the Church as well. Gnostics believed that knowledge is supreme and rules over all. The pursuit of knowledge and gaining knowledge are most important in life. Knowledge is even more supreme than Jesus, gnosticism would say.
This could not continue. People needed to know who Jesus really is. So a man very near and dear to Jesus wrote about it. His name was John. John was one of the twelve disciples and one of the three (Peter, James, and John) that was closest to Jesus. If any human knew anything about Jesus, the apostle John would be one of the few who knew the most—from firsthand experience even. Read the rest of this entry
Christmas Wonder and Awe
Text: Hebrews 1:1-9
Do you still have that awe and wonder at Christmas? That’s what we are all looking for. We want that awe, that wonder, that feeling of utter joy at Christmas. You know the feeling. It’s when your child (or spouse) suddenly appears, having returned from military deployment. It’s that look on your kids’ faces when they see the coolest gift ever. It’s those quiet moments on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when the whole family is bundled up in jammies and blankets and simply enjoys quality family time and reprieve from the bustle of busy life.
In Hollywood they call it “Christmas magic.” A lot of money has been made off the concept of Christmas magic. Whether it’s snow finally hitting in Vermont for Bing Crosby in White Christmas, or Jimmy Stewart finding happiness in It’s a Wonderful Life, or Ebenezer Scrooge learning to be generous, or a brand new bee bee gun in A Christmas Story, or a young boy riding The Polar Express to Santa’s workshop—we love to watch every minute of a story with “Christmas magic.” Why? Because we relate to this. We love to be filled with awe and wonder at Christmas. Read the rest of this entry
The Festival of Michael and All Angels
Join the Work of the Angels
Text: Luke 2:9-14
The fire was quietly crackling. The smoke was gradually gliding upward. The flames and embers gave a gentle glow on the campsite. It was restful. It was tranquil. It was peaceful. Just another night out in the country fields. But not for long. This normal night would go down as one of the most eventful evenings in history.
The quiet fields outside of little Bethlehem had been silent for ages. Nothing more than bleating sheep or shouting shepherds happened out there. But something incredible was happening on this night. Suddenly these shepherds were surrounded by the glory of the Lord. Like the pillar of fire leading Israel out of Egypt, like Mt. Sinai quaking and shaking, like Solomon’s temple filled with smoke, the glory of the Lord was brilliantly illuminating the night sky. And the shepherds “were terrified.” Read the rest of this entry
Christmas Changes Us from Head to Toe
1. It gives us feet that run
2. It gives us voices that sing and shout
3. It gives us eyes that see wonders
Text: Isaiah 52:7-10
It’s amazing how quickly Christmas loses its luster. Children pick up on this quickly, too. As toddlers, children are happy to open any present at all. It could be a pencil or an eraser or a new pair of underwear. They’re excited. They even love playing with the boxes.
Then they get a few years older and it isn’t quite as special anymore. My sister sent some presents to the kids this year. One of them wasn’t in a box. Noah squeezed it once and said, “Oh. I know. It’s a blanket.” As they get older the joy of gifts departs as they become selective receivers. “I didn’t want Batman jammies! I wanted Ironman jammies!” Even the toys that brought the funniest reactions and the biggest smiles are soon lying on the floor forgotten and broken.
This only continues as we get older. At a certain point in your life you don’t really care all that much about getting presents. You only want to be sure you got your wife enough to keep her happy for a few days. As you get older yet and your body begins to ache you see things like Christmas lights as a pain to take down rather than a joy to show off.
What is Christmas anyways? We have a little fun here and there. But we spend too much money. We eat too much food and feel like slobs. We scrub our homes from floor to ceiling only for family and friends to trash them the next day. We get a couple days away from work, but then we feel behind when we get back to work. Christmas is great, but sometimes it’s better when Christmas is over!
If Christmas has lost some of its luster, if you’ve lost some of your Christmas cheer, if you could use a bit of a refocus for Christmas and for your life, then listen to the joyful words of Isaiah this morning. He reminds us that Christmas Changes Us from Head to Toe. Read the rest of this entry
Christmas Message from Christ the King’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Where is God This Christmas? As Mayan calendars make humans across the world look silly and make God look absent, we’re left to wonder Where is God This Christmas?
Crazed shooters are walking into movie theaters, Amish communities, and schools with guns blazing. Innocent lives, even innocent little children, are being massacred for no good reason. Where is God This Christmas?
Meanwhile the unrest and slaughter around the world increase, too. Tribal warfare in Africa, Christian persecution in the Middle East and Far East, nuclear weapons transactions—these things are only getting worse. Where is God This Christmas?
Our country is battling through financial times so terrible only the Great Depression was worse. Those once wealthy and comfortable are now poor and scraping to get by. Those with good jobs now are reduced to menial labor. Those with bright futures now don’t even want to know what tomorrow brings. Where is God This Christmas?
Look closely, friends. You won’t find God in million dollar winning lottery tickets. You won’t find God in the number of zeros in your bank account. You won’t find God in military defense systems. You won’t find God in the White House. You won’t find God on the internet.
Look closely. Look in a place where you absolutely would not expect. Look in a stable where a young maiden, a curious carpenter, and simple shepherds are surrounded by lowing oxen. Look amidst them all in a tiny little manger. There we see a newborn child with an incredible name—Immanuel, which means, “God with us.”
This is God’s modus operandi. He comes to us with great power in humble and unexpected ways. We see him lying in a manger. We see him riding on a donkey into Jerusalem. We see him dying on a cross. We see him buried in a tomb.
It leaves us to wonder: Where is God in all this? Yet while the manger, the cross, and the tomb don’t look like much, through these things our mighty God came to live for us, forgave all our sins, and won for us eternal life in heaven. God used the most humble of means to accomplish the most marvelous of miracles—our salvation.
Today God still comes to us in humble means to accomplish marvelous miracles. We see our God pouring out his power and his might through his holy Word, the Bible. There he reveals to us his plan of salvation and his will for our lives. There he reveals to us that though kingdoms, countries, and economies may fail, he is always with us. There he reveals that no ancient calendar will ever predict the end of the world because only he knows the day and the hour. There in his Word he reveals to us that though we are traumatized by wars and school shootings and hatred and sicknesses and diseases and cancer, he will still work all things for our good according to his loving plans.
This Christmas don’t look to Christmas lights or Christmas presents or holiday cheer to find joy or to find answers. Look to the manger, the cross, and the tomb. There we see our Savior God in action, taking away our sins and opening wide the doors heaven. Then look to God’s holy Word where learn how our Savior works in our lives in mysterious yet loving ways today.
This Christmas in the manger, at the cross, in the tomb, in the Word we find an answer to our question. Where is God This Christmas? Friends, his name is Immanuel. God is with us! Today and always.