Summary: This sermon talks about what it will take to bring an end to the hostility between an individual and God. God has already done His part.
Dec. 19, 1999 Ephesians 2:11-19
An end to hostilities
19 days ago, the Fox Family channel began to annoy me. On Dec. 1, they started their “25 days of Christmas” promotion. That means that every night at 8:00 and several times during the day, they have been showing some type of Christmas movie or cartoon. In order to fulfill this commitment, they have been scraping the bottom of the barrel a few times. Now I like Christmas movies as much as anybody else does, but when you see that many of them in a row, it gets kind of old and loses some of its appeal. I think that the old Christmas specials, the ones that I watched as a kid, are still some of the best. I like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” & “Frosty the Snowman” & “Santa Claus is coming to Town” & “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” & “The Little Drummer Boy”. Tammy likes “A Christmas Story” – the one where the kid wants a B/B gun for Christmas, and one of his family says that he’d shoot his eye out if he got one. That’s also the one where the kid is bullied into putting his tongue on the frozen pole where he gets stuck. Then there’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. Those are a few of the old favorites. But perhaps the one I enjoy the most is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Throughout the story, CB is looking for the true meaning of Christmas. Most of us can identify with Charlie Brown as he goes out and finds the weakest looking tree in the whole bunch, thinking that maybe the tree and its decorations are what Christmas is all about. [If anyone were to look at some of the homes in Bridgeport, they might agree that the lights and decorations are the true meaning of Christmas] His tree looks like it might die at any moment. In fact, when CB puts one Christmas ornament on the tree, it wilts over to one side, and CB yells out, “I killed it!” Throughout the story, everyone is mad at CB, picking on him, and generally disgruntled with the whole Christmas season because the tree looks awful and the play is going poorly. But then, as he usually does, Linus pulls the play and the situation out of the fire. He comes onto center stage, the spot-light shines on him, and he begins to quote from the Christmas story as it is told in Luke 2. (Luke 2:8-14 KJV) And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” That statement was made by the angels almost 2000 years ago. And yet as the writer of one Christmas song put it, “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘there is no peace on earth’ I said, ‘for hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men’” [“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day] Every evening that I am able to sit down and watch TV, I am reminded that we have not yet achieved peace on earth. I see stories of families killing one another and people suing each other over minor things. Our State dept. this week put out a warning against traveling overseas during the holidays. This warning is not because of Y2K fears but because they fear the terrorists will take advantage of the publicity that the new millennium will bring and will attempt to kill large numbers of people, especially Americans. The Columbine high school was shut down once again this week because someone made a threat that they were going to finish what those two boys had started. Why haven’t we achieved peace in the 2000 years since the announcement by the angels and the birth of Christ? What does it take in order to bring an end to the hostilities?
1. It takes a recognition of the problem.
“separate from Christ” – I hate being separated from people that I love especially over the holidays; service men and women stationed in hot spots all over the world. I see their recorded messages that they have sent to family and loved ones here in WV because war and unrest prevents them from being with the people that the love. Is 59:2 sins separated you from God; Heb 9:26 Jesus separated from sinners; Rom. 8:35,39 – no one separate us from the love of God – no one but us that is; the rich man was separated from comfort and peace because he had remained separated from Christ during his lifetime.