Summary: The sermon is about the "Peace" offered by faith in Jesus verses the fear that comes into our daily lives. What is the "peace" the angels offered the shepherds at Bethlehem? (some quotes from Max Lucado in "Fearless" Includes a story about "Noel"
In Jesus Holy Name December 17, 2017
Advent III Text: Luke 2:10, 14 Redeemer
“Good News…Peace For Your Soul”
Today is our Children’s Christmas Program. The program this year is based on Martin Luther’s famous hymn. “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.”
Martin Luther had a passion for Christmas. He had a passion for finding ways to tell the story of God’s love. The Season of Christmas provided a great opportunity. In 1534 he wrote a children’s Christmas musical for his children. He wrote at least 4 other Christmas carols. For Luther the singing of songs in worship was just another way to help people hear, sing and thus remember the “gospel”.
If you look closely at Martin Luther’s Christmas hymn you can see that he designed it to be a singing dialogue between singers. Turn to hymn 358. Today we very seldom sing all 15 stanzas. So try to imagine a child dressed as an angel singing stanza 1. “From Heaven above to Earth I Come, to bring good news to everyone, Glad tidings of great joy I bring..
Then imagine Mary and Joseph singing stanza 8. Then repeat stanza 2 and stanza 9, 10,11
Stanza 5 again the message of the angels to the shepherds answered in stanza 6….
And finally the personal note which is a prayer. Stanza 13-15
Some of the songs of Christmas are not as well known. Several years ago a Christian grade school teacher from a small town in the southwest was teaching her 2nd grade class various Christmas songs. Having rehearsed her second graders she felt brave enough to take them caroling.
They went to a number of places where people were home bound. The wondering concert ended up in the community’s only nursing home.
There the teacher, with her charges in tow, wandered the hallways giving a song at the doorway of each resident. Only then did the teacher notice that one of her more enthusiastic singers had rewritten the words to one of the songs.
Where he was supposed to be singing: “Noel, Noel.” (Noel meaning Christmas or Christmastide.) He was belting out for all to hear. “No hell, No hell, born is the King of Israel.”
I like his interpretation. It certainly explains what Christmas is all about. God loved the world so much He gave His one and only Son. By believing in God’s Son, Jesus, anyone can have eternal life. Since you and I have flesh and blood it was logical that God Himself would take upon Himself flesh and blood.
His life journey began as an infant in Bethlehem. His life on earth came to an end on the cross in Jerusalem. But he rose from death with a glorified resurrected body. His resurrection destroyed the Devil’s ability to keep people in slavery by their fear of death. His resurrection is what brings us together to remember His birth.
The little 2nd graders theology was correct… No hell, no hell for those who accept Jesus as their Savior. The Apostle Paul can write in Romans: “…since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God…through Jesus Christ.” Therefore we have no fear of “hell”. One’s heart should not worry.
Most of Paul’s letters begin in the same way: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Peace is a state of tranquility or quietness of spirit that transcends circumstances. The term peace is described in Scripture as a gift from God.
People in the world dream and scheme for peace. “But each sunrise seems to bring fresh reasons for fear. A demented dictator collecting nuclear warheads the way others collect fine win.” Terrorism in a N.Y. subway brings new meaning about going to work. We fear being sued. Fear finishing last, going broke, the new mole the doctor discovered in our routine physical. (Fearless Max Lucado)
Fear herds us into a prison and slams the door. The followers of Jesus contract malaria, cancer, bury babies, battle addictions. Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s good ness. We begin to wonder if love lives in heaven. Fear unleashes a swarm of doubts.
In the Gospel of Matthew we find the Disciples had been on the Sea of Galilee. Most of them grew up on the water. They had fished with their fathers. They had been on the waters of the Sea of Galilee hundreds of times. They knew the Sea of Galilee like the back of their hand. They know how to manage the boat in the rough waters when storms arise.
In some ways the Sea of Galilee is not much different than the waters of the San Luis Reservoir. The waters of San Luis are surrounded by large hills. There are times when the wind whips down over the pass and the waves easily climb to 6-8 feet swamping and sinking boats, taking to the bottom both the boat and fishermen.