“O Come, O Come, Immanuel!”
Pastor Allan Kircher
25 December 2011
Only ten hour’s more/Pacific Coast/13 short hours/Atlantic coast,
And another Christmas will be but a memory.
A Few moments more to linger in the colorful radiance of the Christmas tree.
A few moments more to blend our hearts and voices in cheerful Christmas melodies
A few moments more/enjoy happiness that comes to our reunited family circles/Christmas
And then this day of days from which we unwillingly release our grasp is gone!
It will give way to tomorrow.
men will resume their normal activities
The spell of Christmas is will be broken, its luster dimmed, its message forgotten.
But Christmas is too wonderfully magnificent to be confined to one solitary, fleeting day.
o There is a deathless significance in this Child of Christmas
o a permanent and divinely bestowed gift of God
o It brings perpetual happiness, immeasurable and unspeakable, both here and hereafter.
If you have never permitted the star of faith to guide you to Bethlehem to that manger.
If with Herod like determination you have tried to stifle the glorification of the Babe of Bethlehem.
I employ you to separate your hearts from all your earth born attachments,
To submerge the harsh dissonance of cold doubt and frigid skepticism
And follow the lowly shepherds to that glorious Child in Mary’s arms
To immortalize Christmas as a hope of perpetual and undying happiness by hearing and believing the divine and unfailing answer to this question:
• Who is this Child in which the very universe revolves?
In whom the hopes and fears of all the years have found their joyous fulfillment?
Today we are standing at the gateway of Advent/Christmas.
I wish that the authentic thrill of Advent could lay some deep spell upon our spirits.
o The glory of the coming of the Lord is here!
o It means breaking in of the divine into human history.
o The supernatural into the natural.
It means today, a sense of something great impending from the side of heaven.
The world is blundering in a morass of sin and sorrow.
Darkness in the streets, men losing hope completely.
But here and there some man, some group of men, some Church stands listening and intent—for God is marching on.
That is Advent. This is Christmas
People have their personal problems.
There are brave faces which hide sore hearts
secret wounds that ache
And a restlessness that comes every morning.
Some today may think life is so terrible an affliction upon them that God seems to have forgotten to be gracious.
o I preach today that the Christ is born
o The grace of God is upon you today.
o Today, through the darkness shines the light
o Today, the troubled heart will grow calm again.
“Be still, my soul; for God will surely come.”
That is Advent. This is Christmas
o I wish we could all recapture the authentic thrill of Christmas.
o And that spirit is of our text, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, says your God.”
I know, of course, that the Advent gospel has another side to it.
I know there is a day of the Lord that is like a thief in the night.
I have read the Word of God, and heard its great commission—“Cry aloud! Spare not! Lift up thy voice like a trumpet!”
I hear the terrible and startling urgency that was in the voice of Jesus when He tried to shake men awake from their sleep.
Let us not be found with our lamps unlit when the hour comes in the night.
I do know, that beneath all the thunder of the Advent season,
There is a deeper undertone
the music of the peace of God that passes all understanding;
“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, says your God.”
The true comfort of Christ is a strong, bracing, reinforcing thing.
o It is like the wind to a boat that has been calmed.
o It is like/gift/job/man who has been out of work for years.
o It is like the clasp of a friend’s hand in time of need.
This is certainly the root idea of the word “comfort” in the NT.
When Jesus speaks of the HS as the “Comforter,”
He is giving a promise that God will stand by man/day/need
That He will brace his heart and nerve his arm, and make him more than a conqueror.
I will fail you if I attempt/one moment/minimize or to conceal the essential hardness of Christianity.
It is going to be hard to the end of the day.
But I should fail you even more if I didn’t tell you of this comforting Christ who was born today.
Comfort your people oh God. Comfort.
Jerusalem! Think of her for a moment.
How terribly she needed comfort.
All that checkered history behind her..
1. The dreams that flickered away on Mount Gilboa, where Saul and Jonathan lay dead.
2. The glory of David tarnished by the unguarded hour when Bathsheba meant more to him than God
3. The long battle of the prophets with recrudescent paganism when Baal renewed his hold
4. The thunder of Sennacherib’s legions down the plains of Esdraelon and across the borders of Judah
5. The bitterness of the Babylonian bondage when the exiles wept for Zion and harps hung silent on the willows
The eyes peering through the dark, the voices crying, “How long, O Lord, how long?”
The hands battering unrelentingly at heaven’s gate.
All that—for centuries—and then, now for our own hearts and souls we see the comforter is born in Bethlehem.
He is here, He is here. Let us rejoice/bellows of our souls.
Let us say today, Lord comfort me.
God does not deal with men in the mass, to talk about God comforting the world may sound remote and leave us cold.
o It is an individual message of Advent we want to capture.
o What does this deep saying in Isaiah mean for me?
There are souls by the ten thousand needing comfort today.
• Has Advent anything for them?
• Think of the troubled spirits that are out there now.
• Baffled and bewildered because life has treated them unkindly
• Some worried about their health
• wondering how they will be able to keep going
• What will happen to their dear ones when they finally have to give in.
Strained almost to the limit of their endurance by the fierce competition of this modern age.
Fathers/mothers anxious about children whose characters seem subtly changing.
Young people struggling with temptations which they have never been able to tell to anyone.
Souls that have gone down defeated in the fight.
Lives that have had their hour of thrilling joy and springtime, and then it vanished.
But today for believers we have a Savior born to….
Fight the conflicts that only He can understand.
Calm the loneliness that hurts.
Heal the disabilities that handicap.
Renunciations are now a crown of thorns.
Today we look not at things with the eyes of cheap criticism, but with the eyes of God.
Now we can behold the gold of courage
And shine like precious jewels of chivalry like the chivalry of Christ.
The Christ born in the manger in Bethlehem.
The compassionate Christ
The greatest thing of this day is that when you see this compassionate Christ, you are seeing God.
This is the comfort which Christmas tidings bring—
And it is one word Immanuel, for Immanuel means “
God with us,” with us in Jesus
God going through the darkness with you, God saying,
“My friend, you must not carry the trouble alone any longer—cast down at My feet: I will take it and carry it, And the hardest part shall be My part!”
The word Immanuel means that where we, with all our poor human words of comfort, break down utterly and God begins.
o Immanuel means that when you feel nobody wants you, God does.
o Immanuel means that God is right inside.
o Immanuel means God with you and in you
o God making the pain a sacrament
o the conflict a crusade
o the broken dreams a ladder up to heaven.
And so, through Christ, God speaks home to the heart of Jerusalem.
But you know and I know that there is one comfort we need more than any other
• more than the soothing of our sorrows and the calming of our cares;
• And that is, the forgiving of our sins.
• There is no real comfort until the conscience is at peace,
• Until the heart is clean, and the will is right with God.
But the glory of this great word Immanuel is that it means that.
o Christ the Savior has paid that price for you and I today.
o It is on this level that God’s greatest work is done.
I began by saying that I wished I could help you to capture the authentic thrill of Advent.
I end now by saying that this is it—nothing less—
it is on those battlefields were men and women struggle
their souls that have sometimes met defeat;
If the shades of the prison of habit have come closing in around us;
If we have tasted shame, and self-despise, and have lost the morning freshness of our souls;
If, like the Jews in Babylon, we have felt ourselves exiled from the face of God—
Then this is the thrill of Advent.
To hear the great Father saying, “My son, My daughter, that is all past now, and done with and finished forever,”
To find every barrier broken down by the love of Christ and the old dear intimacy restored,
To know that you can enter,
This very moment, into a new world of light and joy and liberty.
And it is all through the birth of our Lord Jesus today.