Summary: Instead of writing new words for the Christmas story, finding new bits of humor, finding a new “angle”, this sermon shares the old words. It is all Scripture and carol lyrics put together to tell the story.
Love: Fruit of the Spirit & Advent #4
assorted December 19, 2004
As I sat down to prepare a message for today, the final Sunday of preparation for our celebration of the entry of God into human experience, I searched for stories that would remind us of the real meaning of Christmas. I searched for humor that would give us a small taste of happiness and would open us up to receive the message of the love of God. I thought about a different “angle”, something that would make it fresh and real, something that would encourage us to accept the love of God and then share that love with one another. That is today’s theme – the love of God for us, given in Jesus, so that we might know how deeply loved we are and so that we would then be full to love God and love others. The question is, how do I take a familiar story and make it new again?
I decided to do something different. Instead of writing new words, finding new bits of humor, finding a new “angle”, I want to share with you the old words. Familiar words, which tell a familiar story, and which I do not believe I can improve upon.
And so, the story begins…
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, ’You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ’You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
The man said, "The woman you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring [a] and hers;
he will crush [b] your head,
and you will strike his heel."
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”