I’m preaching on Christmas Eve on Isaiah 9:2-7, and I created this image for use in it. Help yourself if you find it useful.
I recently wrote an article on the Incarnation and the Real Presence relative to the Passover, and I took some photos that might be useful to those who’d like to tie “The Word became flesh” to “This is My body.” … Continue reading →
Here’s my Christmas Eve sermon from 2009: How the Grinch Missed Christmas Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Text: (1 John 4:7-11 ESV) “Beloved, let us … Continue reading →
For a sermon series I did for Advent 2011. It’s designed to use the first and last verses and choosing one of the middle topic verses, not to be sung straight through. Individual verses could also be used, such as a Magnificat … Continue reading →
Image by bemky via Flickr
A little boy was scared during a thunderstorm. His Mom said to him, “Don’t be scared, God will keep you safe.”
“But Mom!” the little boy cried, “Right now I need a God with skin on!”
At Christmas, when celebrating the coming of Christ into the flesh, into a physical human body, we celebrate that Christ is literally God with skin on. With that skin, He was not only able to touch people tenderly and hug them, He was also able to suffer and bleed in our place for our forgiveness.
And while we still get His touch in Holy Communion, our world still needs a “God with skin on.” St. Paul says that we, the church, are the body of Christ. Even though Jesus has retained His human body forever, He has called us to be “God with skin on” to the world, specifically our own community. (It’s hard to physically touch someone on the other side of the world, no matter how many of their Facebook statuses we like.)
This is a huge honor. When people need Jesus, the Savior of the world, He has sent you to meet that need.
But isn’t that asking too much? Jesus is God. He’s the Creator of the universe, and He sustains all things in His hands. During His three years of ministry, He showed a kind of compassion the world rarely sees but so needs.
So how can we be God to our community? God is holy and perfect and pure! We have trouble going more than a few minutes without a sinful thought or action, and Jesus didn’t have a full-time job and a family!
Yes, Jesus was able to feed thousands like a human soup kitchen, but when the recipients only focused on their stomachs, Jesus went away. Like the child in the story, God has called you to be the ears of Christ that listen to a hurting friend. He has called you to be the shoulder of Christ to bear the burdens of your coworkers. He has called you to be the hands of Christ that help a friend (or an enemy!) in need. And He has called you to be the mouth of Christ that speaks His Word of comfort, forgiveness, and acceptance. And He’s so sure that He can work through you, He brings people into your life for that specific purpose.
Keep an eye open for them. When they need a hand, even a nail-scarred one, reach out with the hand of Christ, and lift them up.
Christmas is almost upon us, but too often, we celebrate God becoming flesh by leaving the malls’ and radios’ music to tell people about Jesus. Yet just today, I heard about a child who doesn’t even know that Christmas has something to do with a baby …Continue reading →
It’s that time of year again, a time to celebrate peace on earth and, if necessary, shove it down your neighbor’s throat. While this year’s controversies seem fewer than previous years’, the question of “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” vs “whatever holiday you Wannakuh” continue. What’s a Christian to do?
First of all, this is a question of Christian liberty. The simplest answer is, “Whatever you want,” and the answer may be that simple. The Bible doesn’t dictate how to respond to a cashier in a store except with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15) Sadly, we’re sometimes so adamant about making sure people keep “Christ in Christmas” that “Merry Christmas” becomes a battle cry instead of a joyous greeting. You can’t demand that anyone acknowledge or observe a particular holiday any more than you can demand that someone believe that, in Jesus Christ, the infinite God became a human baby.
It seems that we’re more concerned about shopping centers proclaiming Christ than our own lives. Instead of getting angry when the store clerk says, “Happy Holidays,” you have several options:
- Say, “Thanks. You, too.” (You do celebrate the pagan holiday of the New Year, too, right?)
- Say, “Thanks, and merry Christmas to you,” with a smile on your face.
- Say, “Thanks. I’m sure the extra work for you can make it not so happy, but I hope you can find joy in the midst of it.” (Compassion—pretty novel, right?)
- Beat them to it, but not as a race. As they ring up your order, say something like, “Sometimes, it’s hard to see how all this was intended to point to God becoming a baby to save mankind.”
Whatever you say, say it with joy. God has become man, and since the world crucified Him the first time, we shouldn’t be surprised if they do it again and again, but that’s why He came. Whatever the world happens to say to you, thank God that the same stores that don’t allow their employees to say, “Merry Christmas,” often have, “Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord,” piped over their speakers in the store. Enjoy the irony, and take a moment to pray for those who work and shop in that store, that as they wrap their gifts, they come to know the One who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger to save them.