For many, the shift from Slave to Child is only self-actualization. They celebrate the privileges of a firstborn, yet forget their commensurate responsibility. Like Jesus, we are the Presence of God in this world. We live in the Father for the world. That is why Jesus’ birth and ours is “good news of great joy to all people.”
When asked what God is like, most will say that He is “love” but do we know what this means? Jesus said, “The Father loves the Son” (John 5:20) and he prays “that the love you (the Father) have for me may be in them,” (John 17:26). In fact, the love of the Father for the Son and for us is the same love to the same degree. Just as the Father loved us through the Son, the Son will love others through us. God is not just the standard, but the Source of our love for others. This changes everything about the way we love one another.
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For many, their humanity is a weakness: “I’m only human,” they say to excuse their last failure, yet the more of these failures they have the less human they become. What if Jesus, and not somebody else, is the measure of our humanity? What if God took on our flesh so that we, in our flesh, can be like God? But how? In his humanity, God makes demands upon our humanity, yet He offers freely to give us all that He demands.
Fatherhood is an idea that many today find repulsive because it stirs up images of male dominance, of abuse or neglect, and so much of it is for good reason. Yet God is a Father and that’s how He wants to be known. What if fatherhood properly understood is the cure for fatherhood properly condemned. The relationship that Jesus had with his Father is the very relationship that we can have, not some other.
A problem with this impatient rushing to the next is that we might end up forgetting the promises of God. We might even miss “new life” that God has been giving us along the way.
What if God became small because this is how things get done? This sermon will stress the importance of humility because it’s in the ordinary, common routines that we subvert the order of things.
Two thousand years is a long time to wait for things to change; yet that’s how long it’s been since Jesus said a change was coming. Perhaps we should look for something else. Maybe change comes like an infant born and growing up. Maybe it doesn’t come from the top, but from the bottom.
The incarnation is the reconciling of two entities that were previously far apart. This brief Christmas day message will call us to be agents of reconciliation in a nation (and world) deeply divided over race, politics, and opportunity. The outcome, I hope, will be that our people will use their positions in the home or in the community to bring together people or parties that are far apart.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only son. He didn’t “like” us on Facebook. He didn’t “click here” to show his support. He came and lived among us. He moved in. He took up our infirmities. He became what we are. He showed us that His comfort was worth sacrificing for our benefit. To be incarnate, then, is to be fully present in the community where we live, engaging in sacrificial love for the benefit of our neighbors.
Why does our language on earth, both inside the church and without, sound more like the accusations of the evil one than the grace-filled whispers of Jesus into the ears of the Father? The words we share with one another, both in content and in form, should be the re-creative and transformational ones which paint the new reality of heaven rather than the false depictions of Satan.
The first and most obvious implication of the incarnation is what it means for human flesh. Contrary to the idea that to “err is human,” the incarnation declares it is not, for even in his humanity, he did not sin. Indeed, the more we sin, the less human we become. It is not normal to sin, and it never was.
In this opening message, we’ll introduce the concept and the language of the incarnation, then show how important it is, and what potential it opens to all humanity, especially those who believe. We’ll distill the meaning of the incarnation into a handful (4-5) of axioms that summarize its mystery so we can begin to see the powerful implications of it.
Simeon and Anna are two who waited a lifetime for “the consolation of Israel”, who were surely disappointed again and again, but who saw what no one else could see and they leaned into it. From this aging couple we learn how to wait in hope for a day that is beyond our day, for a generation that will come after our generation, and we pass the blessing forward while we speak with confidence about the future.
Sometimes waiting is easier when we can see the reason for delay, when we can see what is happening ahead of us. But too often we cannot, and we are made to wait anyway and what causes us so much angst is that we are stuck in the moment with no explanation of what else is happening, or of how this will all work out. Joseph provides a model for how they can wait with integrity and continue to do what the Lord commands
Many people live under a cloud of shame, either for something they did, or for something they didn’t do. It’s as though they’re in prison, bound by something from the past, and it follows them for the rest of their lives. But while all sins have consequences, all consequences have an end. Too often, when our sins have consequences, our consequences have no end. We carry around the shame of our sins from the past and it feels like a prison.
When God suddenly interrupts us with hope – in the form of a promise – he often follows this by promptly doing nothing. So what do we do when God is doing nothing? Elizabeth and Mary had a lot in common with each other, but even more in common with their ancestors. Like these two women, many of us heard a promise from God, one day, but it still hasn’t happened.