Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This message is about how we are to be like John the Baptizer and simply point people to the true light, Jesus. The message has illustrations from Rick Warren, Hannity and Colmes (their interview with Rick Warren) and the Salvation Army bell ringers, etc

In Jesus Holy Name December 14, 2008

Redeemer Text John 1:6-8

“Christmas Is Coming! Are You Ready?”

“It’s the largest celebration around the world each year. Other holidays get a single day, but Christmas gets an entire month. During the Christmas season, billions of people set aside their normal routine to decorate their homes, send out greeting cards, buy gifts, go to Christmas parties, attend candle light services, sing Christmas songs, watch Christmas specials and travel long distances to be with their families. Christmas lights, Christmas sounds fill the air everywhere. When Christmas comes you can not miss it!” Or can you? (The Purpose of Christmas Rick Warren)

Once in a while I walk across the street to buy lunch at Flower City, a small Chinese carry out. Tracy is a vivacious and friendly wife and mother. In typical immigrant Chinese fashion they work long hours. This week I asked if she was ready for Christmas. “No not yet.” “Last year we did not put up a tree.” What about this year? “No.” Is your husband going to give you a gift? He just hands me the money from the restaurant.

I said. “You know you really should put up decorations at Christmas and a tree. Don’t you want your daughter to have good memories of Christmas?” “Yes, that’s a good point.”

My question to you is really her in audible question to me. “Why should she put up a Christmas tree. Would it mean anything? She doesn’t know that Jesus is the reason for the season. Who will tell her about the true light that gives hope to all? Will she ever take the message of the angels personally? “I bring you good news of great joy that shall be to all people”….even Tracy at Flower City restaurant. “A Savior has been born he is Christ the Lord.”

You may have never realized that every time you check your calendar, or refer to a date or write one down, you are using Jesus Christ as your reference point. Because of Jesus, history is divided into B.C. (before Christ) or A.D. (anno Domini in the year of our Lord) Every event in history is dated by how many days and years it has been since Jesus Christ appeared on earth.

We, who are here this morning, know that Jesus is the reason for the season. We also know that Jesus is often overlooked or merely mentioned along with Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, the Grinch and a long list of celebrated fictional characters. Getting ready for Christmas can be a lot of work. There’s the pressure of putting up lights, cooking, attending parties and cleaning up afterwards.

Is it possible that the Grinch who steals our Christmas joy could be our own busyness, letting the trappings of a cultural event snuff out the true light?

Now there were Jews from Jerusalem, a group of priests and religious officials who asked John several questions. Are you the Messiah? Are you the 2nd coming of Elijah? “No” They pressed him. “Are you the Prophet? “No”

Exasperated, they said, “Who then? We need an answer for those who sent us.” “I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached. “I’m the one calling in the desert…make the road straight for God!” He is coming.

There are those around us who do not know the real reason for Christmas. John stood on the banks of the Jordan River. He was not the light. He pointed to the true light, Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Many who listened to John were baptized. Their lives were transformed when they attached themselves to Jesus.

On the night when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small group of shepherds were quietly tending their flocks of sheep in the nearby fields. They were looking up at the stars, like we all tend to do on a clear night. Nothing seemed different.

But what was about to happen would transform not only the lives of these shepherds but the lives of many others as well. The world would never be the same. (The Purpose of Christmas)

Suddenly a bright light frilled the skies, an angel from God appeared and said: “Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior is born.” The light, the message of the angel pointed to the infant born in Bethlehem. He who created the world was now in the world.

God can use the unusual or the well known to point those who do not know Jesus to Jesus. The angels; John the Baptizer, you and me, Rick Warren. Rick Warren like John the Baptizer is not the light, but they both point to the Light.

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