Sunday 23rd December 9am Worship
Sermon Series: Advent Conspiracy
Title: Love All
Bible Reading: John 1:1-14
Preacher: Phil Swain
Can you believe it … Christmas is only 2 days away. This advent season has just raced by, which is probably not very good considering that Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation … for refocusing our hearts, minds and spirits ready to celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas. This advent season in our worship services, we have tried to help all of us in that preparation by using the “advent conspiracy” program. I don’t know how you have found it, but I have to say that this program, the sermons and particularly the daily reflections have been personally challenging and very meaningful to me. It really has made a difference for me this Christmas.
So, if you have missed the first three weeks, to recap … I see advent conspiracy challenging us to decide which Christmas story we are going to enter into. The Christmas story where we rushing around, buying presents, going into debt, exhausting ourselves with activities … and we have the story of the birth of Jesus, the Christ- child who didn’t come with Xboxes or iphones but gave of himself, relationally, incarnationally. Whose desire is summed up in the song, “All I want for Christmas … is you” Which story have you entered into?
I don’t know about you, but as Christmas draws near … my desire is for Christmas to be meaningful, to be special, to be joyous, to be significant. Who is with me on that one?
So today we get to our last Advent Conspiracy sermon. So far we have explored how worship was part of the experience of every character in the original Christmas and how it should be part of our Christmas experience too.
We also have been challenged to think about our spending habits when it comes to gift giving but rather give relationally of yourself. We noted that this is not an expectation or extra pressure to do behave in a certain way at Christmas but rather a simple desire to let our Christmas reflect the Jesus Christmas story.
Which brings us to our theme of today – LOVE ALL – and in very simple terms, this is highlighting the simple fact that Christmas is all about … LOVE.
This is so obvious that sometimes we miss the profoundness of this statement. That at Christmas love is not only all around us – but it is the heart of the Christmas story. Love came down to us at Christmas.
I remember one time doing at talk at a nursing home about this idea that Love came down at Christmas. For some reason we have this idea that God is up there and we are down here and if we want to get to God we need to be good enough or religious enough to somehow rise up and get to God.
I actually took a ladder into the nursing home to illustrate how we think we can “climb up to God”. I didn’t bring a ladder in today. Just wait … I think I can do one better.
So – I was sharing that we have idea that if we want to be right with God, to be near God then we need to do things that will raise us up higher and higher. Actually, most world religions suggest the same thing. If we wan to be close to God we need to:
• Try and be better moralistically
• Try and be more religious
• Try and do lots of Good works
There is a story in the old testament in Genesis where the physically build a tower up the sky thinking that would get them close to God. They thought that they work hard then God would accept them into his presence.
But it’s impossible. It does not matter what we do, we cannot get into God’s presence. It is impossible for us to get to God.
But wait there is some good news! We might not be able to get to God BUT God comes to us. This is what we celebrate at Christmas time – we can’t get to God but God comes to us!
Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus was equal with God, that Jesus was God, but he humbled himself, he took on the nature of a servant and took on human flesh, became one of us.
Or as we read in our bible reading … “So the Word became human and made his home among us.”
Love truly came down to us at Christmas – and that is a Christmas message worth celebrating
But let me see if I can take this up a notch … and finish with another story to highlight just how much the story of Christmas is about LOVE. I have shared this story with a few groups already … so I apologise if you heard it already but this time there is PowerPoint animation.
There once was a man who loved mice. He was obsessed by mice. He started by having a few mice in a cage, but that was not enough. He bought bigger cages, more mice. But that was not enough. So, in his obsession, he redesigned his backyard to be a mouse world.
It was amazing. On one side he had rows of little houses, each with their own mice beds and other mice comforts. There was a mouse roads, shops, lookouts, even a small lake with mice boats and tiny mice life jackets. He put netting over the top to protect the mice from birds, cats and other mice enemies. But the best part was the mice feeding area. He had set up a row of devices that all the mice had to do was to touch the base of the feeding machine and some cheese or other food would drop out. It was amazing. All his mice had to do is to enjoy their new world.
And for a while they did. The mice really appreciated being out of their cages and having all this room to run around. They loved the little houses, roads, shops and boats, and they really appreciated being able to get food whenever they wanted. But after a while things started to turn bad. Some of the mice started to think it was silly having to wear life jackets in the boats, so they threw them away. But then some mice drowned. Other mice complained about this netting ruining the view of the sky, so they took it down, but many more mice were attacked and killed by cats and birds.
Still other mice became suspicious about the food in the feeding machine, “How do we know it is not poisoned?” they asked. So the mice stopped eating it, yet still more mice died of starvation.
The owner, who was watching all of this, was distressed at his pet mice killing themselves through stupid actions, what could he do? He could take away their freedom and put them back in cages but that would kill their spirit. He could reach down at hit them every time they made a mistake. That would work for a while, but the owner couldn’t do that … he loved his mice. How could he teach them right from wrong? The only way he could do it would be to become a mouse himself and go into the world and talk to them on their level. Show them himself the way to live.
As crazy as it sounds, that what we celebrate at Christmas time. God created the world and us and showed us the way to live, but we have stuffed things up through our bad decisions. But God loved us too much to leave us in our mess, so he decided to come down, to become one of us, and show us the way to live. God came in the form of Jesus – the baby born at Christmas.
The bible tells us that God loved the world so much that he sent his only son Jesus, and anyone who believes in Jesus will have new life, both now and forever. Now that is a great Christmas present.
For the past 4 weeks we have been exploring this challenge of embracing the Biblical Christmas story and making sure that this is reflected more in our lives than the other Christmas story that the world is telling.
This is a challenge, but it also comes with this amazing gift. Because when we embrace the Biblical Christmas story we also are accepting the love that came down at Christmas. And this love can bring some meaning to your life, some hope and purpose in the midst of whatever your going through, offering to be a rock in which you can stand on, offering you hope, peace, forgiveness, grace. This love which comes to us through Jesus can change your life.
As we receive this love from Jesus this Christmas may we also share this love with others – in our words, in our actions, in our prayers and in our lives. As this love of Jesus comes to us this Christmas may we worship deeply, spend less, give more and love all.