The first Sunday after Christmas has what for me is a terrible text, The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents. Immediately after Christmas we get something that reminds us of the type of Kingdom, the type of King who has come. His Kingdom is not of this world while being firmly in it. This sermon is a reflection on that. (And I hope it is understandable. I had surgery on Friday afternoon, and so the pain killers were still working here. A nod to being in this kingdom while looking for that resurrection. The text is not quite as clean as I just don’t have my main hand, so I dictated and went rough.)
This is our Christmas Eve service which is largely lessons and carols. The sermon starts about 25 mins. Did you come for nostalgia, or did you come to worship? Nostalgia is a brittle thing. The incarnation, Christmas? Not so. Still the newest thing on this old earth. Worthy of worship.
Biblical Text: Isaiah 7:1-17, Matthew 1: 18-25
What is the virginity of Mary all about anyway? That is what this sermon is about. Matthew tells you, but he tells you by pointing you at the Israel’s story, in this case at Ahaz and Isaiah. I’ll cut this short, it is about hope. It is about how God conceives hope, when all our natural hopes are gone. But this sermon takes a longer look at that. And why the Virgin Birth should conceive hope in all hearts.
This was our children’s program, so the order is slightly different. It was also slightly different for us this year. Each year who you have changes, so you work around that. This year we had a bunch of late elementary. So less dress up, also less absolute perfection, but still perfect in its way. Part of the riotous glory of the creation my meditation speaks about the Christ child coming to save. He made it good, and came to live with us. Announced by Angels, to shepherds and sages. Proclaimed by silly preachers and humble children. Come and Worship, Christ, the newborn king.
Biblical Text: Matthew 3:1-12
The Baptist calls Israel back to their core beliefs. God will come down and redeem us. We are not enough in ourselves, but the Lord fights for us. And this God is a creator God, and a re-creator. When God comes down and establishes his reign, he is not limited to what he finds. He shall create all things new. And so what we – what Israel – can do is prepare. We can prepare the way of the Lord. We can make his paths straight. What does that mean? It does not mean that we build the Kingdom. Neither does it mean we melt away into the Kingdoms of the World. What it mean is that we believe. We repent of where we have gone wrong. And we bear the fruits of that repentance. Christ has delivered us from sin, and the power of the devil. And he will deliver us from death. We prepare to re-cross that Jordan.
Biblical Text: Matthew 21:1-11
The first Sunday in Advent often carries over a theme from the previous week – the Kingship of Christ. But instead of concentrating on the fulfillment of the Kingdom, Advent places us back in our temporal surroundings. It reminds us that the Kingdom comes humbly. It comes by invitation and promise. It comes one heart at a time. And yet it is a Kingdom. We are called to watch. It has a King.
This sermon is a meditation in a busy week of what it means in our day to have a King. And I think that most realistic analogy is when we talk identities. This is an advent pondering on putting on Christ.