Summary: Story sermon: a child watches her father being taken away charged with being disorderly, feels guilty, but does not understand why all the others in her family "receive him not."
No Scripture is more loved and more often quoted than the Gospel of John, chapter 3, verses 16 and 17. If you want to put: the good news in miniature, there it is. One sentence encompassing the heart of the good news.
So as we cane to the Advent season, during which we shall remember the Lord’s caning. it is good to pay attention again to why He came, to what His coming means. This season is a joyous and yet serious one; without deepening knowledge of its central significance, however, it will just be another spending binge, another frantic month of activity, another occasion for frustration and disappointment.
From whence came our Christ? God so loved that He gave. Why did He come? So that everyone who believes might have eternal life. What is the effect of His coming? That the world might be saved through Him. All through the Advent season I am going to push us up against these verses and am going to ask you to see John’s vision of the Savior’s life and work.
I’m especially going to push the phrase "that the world might be saved." I’m going to push it because I suspect that a good many of us do not really think that the world can be saved. We are so caught up in its mess, so mesmerized by its terrors, that we think the world is beyond redemption. We concede, maybe a few individuals can be saved. Maybe some nice middle-class folk can be saved. Maybe even here and there a wayward soul can be corrected. But this word of Scripture is a radical word. That the world might be saved. I ’m not sure we believe that. And so I intend so to work with John’s vision of the Savior that you and I might be fully convinced that in this tiny babe there is one yet destined to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The world saved through Him.
Let’s begin by reading these verses together. I’d like us to get familiar with this, to soak in it. John 3:16 and 17. You’ll find it on page 864 in the pew Bibles. Before Advent blends into Christmas, I’ll hope that everyone can repeat these verses from memory. Many already can: John 3:16-17
Eight-year-old Kristen sensed, as she entered the roam, that she had come at the wrong time. It was not only that she was the only child there, having left her playmates in the basement. And it was not only that no one told her what to do, as they usually did. It was that they didn’t even speak to her. They all sat looking into the fire, talking quietly, in sober tones, appearing not even to notice her small frame.
Something caught at Kristen’ s heart at that moment. Something told her just to be quiet and listen. Had Mom snapped at her, as she so often did, to insist that she hush, Kristen would have protested loudly. But it was different and felt right to be quiet when no one told you to be quiet. It was only when they tell you to be quiet that you just can’t hold in your voice!
Kristen strained to hear and understand their words. "Too bad" "Should have known better" "No good, never has been" What is happening? Did somebody do something wrong? Did I do something wrong? Kristen had been told enough times in her eight years that she was a bad girl, a stupid girl, so that whenever anything went wrong she almost automatically thought she had done it. She remembered the time the cat knocked down one of Mom’s fancy bowls and broke it; everybody thought she did it, and by the time it was all over, Kristen wasn’t so sure ... maybe she did do it. After all, she was a bad girl, a stupid girl.
But no, they were talking about somebody else. Kristen pushed a little deeper into the shadows and listened hard.
"I knew all along this would happen" "Yeah, and I told Ellen when she first got together with Jack that he wasn’t our kind." "Hmph, who does he think he is?" "Oh well, I say, she had her fun, let him go. There’s better fish in the pond"
At the sound of her parents’ names Kristen sat up. Ellen and Jack. It was only two weeks ago that she had figured out moms and dads have names like everybody else, and that Moms name wasn’t mom, it was Ellen. And Dad’s name wasn’t dad, sometimes it was Jack and sometimes it was ’’What’s- wrong-with-you-you-idiot".
Kristen had bounced into the kitchen for dinner and had tried out her new knowledge. Hi, Ellen; hi, Jack. What’ s-wrong-with-you-you-idiot? Mom and Dad had just looked at each other and then Mom had said, "Hey, Miss grownup, it’s still Mom and Dad to you."