Summary: Remember Jesus words to us: Unless you become as a child again, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven! Our Lord does not mean there is anything wrong with maturing in growing up. There is a big difference between being child-like and childish.
For those not familiar with an Anglican Service; there are four Scripture Readings before the Sermon. The Scripture Readings for this day were: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2,8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15 and Mark 1:1-8.
An elderly widow decided it was too much trouble to get all of her children and grandchildren Christmas presents.
So she decided to send them a check with a card.
A few days after she mailed all the cards, she discovered she had forgotten to include the checks in the cards.
Imagine all of them opening a card from grandma with a note inside that simply states, ......Buy your own presents.
It pays sometimes to take a little more time to be prepared.
So I want to announce: That It is time to prepare for Christmas.
Time to trim the tree, check the lights and hang the wreath.
Time to bake the cookies, make the fudge, hang the stockings and fill them up.
Time to shop for gifts, wrap the presents, attach the tags and put on the bows.
Time prepare the lessons and to prepare the sermons.
Yes ..... It is time to get ready for Christmas.
Including today, you have 21 days to prepare for Christmas Day, 2011.
I do wonder: with all the preparation going on, will you take time to also prepare your heart for Christmas?
So often we fail to heed the words spoken in today's reading by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3) prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
Those words were fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist, but they are also our words.
We need to prepare the way for the Lord into our own hearts and into our own lives.
This morning I want to offer you two ways you can prepare your heart for Christmas.
First .....Become as a Child.
A small boy was writing a letter to God about the Christmas presents he badly wanted.
I have been good for six months now," he wrote.
But after a moments reflection he crossed out "six months" and wrote "three".
After another pause that was crossed out and he put "two weeks".
There was another pause and two weeks was also crossed out.
He got up from the table and went over to the little stable scene that had the figures of Mary and Joseph.
He picked up the figure of Mary and went back to his writing and started again:
"Dear God, if ever you want to see your mother again."
We cannot be good enough. We cannot be holy enough to earn our way to heaven.
It is through the perfect atonement of Christ and him alone.
After some last-minute Christmas shopping with her grandchildren, grandma was rushing them into the car when ..... four-year-old Jason said, "Grandma, Susie has something in her pocket."
Grandma reached in and pulled out a new red barrette.
She took Susie back to the store to put the item back where she had found it.
Later as they were leaving the checkout clerk asked, "Have you kids been good so Santa will come?"
I have been very good," replied Jason, "but my sister just robbed a store." (Pause)
Often you hear people say Christmas is for Kids and I wonder what they mean?
Do they mean they have gotten too old to enjoy celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ?
I sometimes detect a little sadness, ..... a little disappointment, ..... maybe a little longing for the days when they enjoyed Christmas as a child?
Yet ..... Jesus seems to think even grownups need to become like children.
Remember Jesus words to us: Unless you become as a child again, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
What did Jesus mean?
First of all, let me tell you what He does not mean.
He does not mean there is anything wrong with maturing ..... in growing up.
There is a big difference between being child-like and being childish.
In fact, that is a problem with some adults: they have not grown up.
They have not outgrown temper tantrums, or selfishness, or un-forgiveness.
But despite all of the negative things that you hopefully lay aside as you mature.
There are some things you need to hold on to,...... no matter what your age.
Let me give you two that can help you prepare your heart for Christmas:
Dependence. Young Children need someone to take care of them.
They do some things for themselves, but they depend on others to do many things that they cannot.
And surprisingly Most children do not mind this arrangement.
If you have or had good parents, you probably did not mind not worrying about food, or clothes, or how you are going to get to school.