Planks,Pine trees and People

It seems usual to relate on one’s blog the kind of Christmas that you experienced, but I won’t bore you with that. It was good as working Christmases go.As we are not yet out of the Christmas Season I have been trying to think what to write, so as nothing mind-shattering has occurred I will post a little of my Christmas Eve sermon. Christmas Eve here was extremely stormy and the entrance to the church flooded and as our Session Clerk commented, he could not part the Red Sea so he had to put planks across the water and haul us into the Church Yard one by one. (Oooh I just had thoughts about the ark and 2 by 2 jokes but I’ll spare you those).

I was surprised so many turned out on a night like that but was pleased to see them. Half way through the service I asked who had seen the John Lewis Christmas Advert. Hardly anyone it seemed. (They are obviously BBC watchers!)

Here is the advert :http://youtu.be/XqWig2WARb0

Second half of my Sermon (the shortened version) 

Has anyone seen the John Lewis advert, “The Bear and the Hare”? The Bear has never seen Christmas, because he hibernates during the winter.  With the help of some birds and other animals the hare decorates a tree and with fruit and berries and (somehow) they all have gifts to unwrap. The hare is sad because the Bear is sleeping in his cave and missing everything, so he takes the bear a gift.The bear turns up and sees the beautiful tree. As the cartoon finishes we see why the bear got there in time. The hare had given him an alarm clock.

We have been hearing the Christmas story every year, probably since we were children. But do we “see” it? We know it of by heart, baby, innkeeper, no room, angels, shepherds, wise men and a donkey. All done.

This year saw the birth of a new Prince. We could hardly have missed the signs. It was in every newspaper, every news bulletin and glossy magazine. We knew every detail. Private hospital, designer clothes, all mod cons, reporters and camera men everywhere. We were glad that everything went well , but suffered a bit from information overload.The whole world knew that a new Prince had arrived and that one day he could be King.

What signs did God give to signify His coming to earth?

The prophet Micah prophesied about 700 years before Jesus was born:that he would be born in Bethlehem.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Judah

Your family is almost too small to count,

but the “Ruler of Israel” will come from you to rule for me.

Isaiah prophesied  the names of Jesus and much much more around the same time. He said: 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.

But  somehow the world STILL missed God’s signs and didn’t “SEE” Christmas.

The Jews wanted a King to deliver them from Roman oppression, they wanted a sign, but Not a baby lying in a manger.

What if all you knew about Christmas was that Jesus was laid in a manger?

Firstly, we would know that he was a baby.

If God had not been born into our world, he could not have died for us ,been raised from the dead and saved us. We could not do it for ourselves.

Secondly, we know that he was wrapped in swaddling bands. When my children were small I wrapped them in a cotton sheet to stop them wriggling too much, my grandson due any day now will most likely be left free as modern thought promotes.But this verse tells us that Jesus came into the world bound and helpless and also left it that way. He was bound so that we might be free.

The third thing we know is that he was sleeping in a manger.

In 1st century stables they were quite often circular hollowed out stones.

The baby lying in a feeding trough is Gods sign to us all. The ruler and creator of the Universe had come to us in the most unlikely way.

BUT  OUR GOD IS A GOD OF SURPRISES!

If God has been working in your life for many years, and you have followed along after him, you would probably agree with me that quite often we don’t always understand how he does thing! He does what he wants and doesn’t ask for our advice.

If this was all that we knew about the Christmas Story we would now have a little bit of an idea of what God did ,to come and live among us and just how simple the Christmas Story is.

“If you are looking for Jesus, go outside to the shed and find the dirtiest part, where the boards need repairing, the floor is covered in dirt and the air smells of manure.”  There you will look into the manger and see the Son of God.

The world didn’t see Christmas.

Why?

Because faith is a gift from God. You may have heard the Christmas story hundreds of times, watched school nativities, heard carols but never actually met with God.

This Christmas look into the manger again. It is a most unlikely way for God to enter our world.  But as strange as it seems, God had a reason “This day YOUR SAVIOUR was born.” Beyond the stable see the cross, this baby was born because God loves us, and would bring us forgiveness and eternal life.

Lilly Allans lovely song that accompanies The Bear and the Hare” advertisement  has these words:

“Oh simple thing where have you gone

I’m getting old and I need something to rely on

And if you have a minute why don’t we go

Talk about it somewhere only we know?

This could be the end of everything

So why don’t we go

Somewhere only we know?

Tonight let us go to a place that only we and the Lord Jesus Christ know and talk about it, because God has provided us with an alarm clock. It’s time to wake up and see that He has given us the ultimate gift….himself.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Hope you had a Happy one ,I’m not looking forward to getting the tree out with all those needles dropping and blocking up the hoover, but it’s time to look forwards and keep on going.What happened last year whether good or bad can’t be changed. A whole new blank year stretches out before us, lets fill it with some good stuff!

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