Several months ago (June 25, 2008), I posted about my cousin and her beautiful baby girl Maia Alivia Dawn Jones. Maia was born at fullterm but had complications. Her little heart and lung just weren’t working properly. She continued to fight but a couple weeks ago…actually two weeks ago yesterday, Maia went home to be with Jesus. Please be with Maia’s mom and dad during this time of grief. It is so hard to lose a child but especially during the Holidays!
Seems like I’ll I do these days is post sermons. Hopefully soon I will get a chance to post a regular post but for now here is my sermon from Sunday Dec 7 based on Matthew 1:1-8
Only days after Halloween was over and the Halloween costumes were put away, I found myself at a local store only to find that they had already jumped into the Christmas season. //There was Christmas trees, Christmas cards, Christmas ornaments, and Christmas wrapping paper everywhere! I couldn’t believe how fast this retailer had jumped from Halloween straight over Thanksgiving right into Christmas. But it didn’t end there. //Many of us as consumers just as eagerly flocked to that store and others like it to the get the latest deal on this year’s hottest items off of our very own Christmas shopping lists. // Now I’m probably just as guilty as the next person but the question still remains—do we really need more stuff? // Is this stuff truly going to remind us why Christ was sent for each of us?// The truth is I think we often forget what it truly means to wait for this precious One born in a manger. //So how can we truly prepare for the birth of this magnificent baby boy without being wrapped up in all the hullabaloo?
In today’s text, John the Baptist is sent to help us do exactly that.// John is the One God sends to remind us that it is not about receiving or giving more stuff but rather it is about getting rid of stuff altogether. //In other words, John calls us to empty out our “junk drawers” to receive this magnificent, amazing, profound gift—and the greatest gift of all; God’s son Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger over two thousand years ago for each of us. // But how do we go about emptying our “junk drawers” to help us prepare for this treasured one?”//
Emptying out our “junk drawers” is hard work and is so much easier said than done. // I think of my friends who have volunteered for organizations where they are only allowed to bring certain items with them.// I think of Pastor Mark’s son Brett and daughter-in-law Katie who were only allowed two suitcases when they left for the island of Tonga for over two years! // It seems to me these individuals know what it means to empty out our “junk drawers.”// Each of them had to get rid of the junk that was weighing them down. And it seems to me now their hands are free to receive the greatest gift of all—God’s son Jesus Christ—the One who is, was, and is to come! // They understand what it means to focus on what is truly important especially during this season of Advent.//
Advent is a special time in the church year set aside for us to prepare for this precious one born in a manger.//John the Baptist helps us prepare the way by reminding us of the true meaning of this season by showing us the importance of emptying out our “junk drawers.” //Because when we fully empty out our “junk drawers,” we hear the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness, Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.”
Prepare Ye the way of the Lord is God’s call to us to repent as we wait for this cherished one who comes to turn our world upside down. // God sends God’s one and only Son for each and every one of us to show us God’s love for all of humanity.// In all actuality, God shows us this by sending us John the Baptist. In today’s text, we hear that John is not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandal yet Jesus stoops down low and washes feet. // What an amazing example of God’s love for us in the incarnate Word; God’s Son Jesus Christ! // During the Advent season, we are asked to prepare for this One wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger who brings us hope, peace, joy and prosperity in a world filled with fear! //
“It’s Christmas every time you let God love others through you…every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.”//These words by Mother Theresa are a great reminder of what God is calling us to do. // In a world filled with fear, God wants us to prepare Ye the way of the Lord by looking to this precious baby boy lying in a manger.//God is asking us to love our neighbors as Christ first loved us. Maybe that means delivering a meal to someone who is grieving or maybe it means inviting a neighbor over for a holiday meal who otherwise would be spending it alone or maybe it simply means sharing the good news of Christ’s love for each and every one of us! // God doesn’t want us to be deaf or blind to God’s love for all of us! In other words, God wants us to continually empty out our “junk drawers” to see what is right in front of us. // And as John leads us to the One whose birth we await and who will reign forever, God wants us to see clearly and hear loudly the voice of this One crying out in the wilderness, Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”
So as we look towards the manger and hear the voice of this One crying out in the wilderness, may we take time this Advent season to empty out our own “junk drawers” so our hands are freely open to receive the gift of this holy One who brings hope, peace, joy, love, understanding and prosperity in a world continually filled with fear and doubt.