Summary: The Christ of Christmas and of the Cross brings us reconciliation and much, much more.(The First Sunday of Advent after "911."
More Than Reconciliation
INTRODUCTION: On the First Sunday of Advent, the world is asking, "Why all the fuss about Jesus?" I remember that several years ago the Falmouth Clergy Association worked hard to get the Falmouth Christmas Parade switched from a Sunday Noon start until later in the afternoon. When we met with the Chamber of Commerce, many of the merchants and members asked, "What is so important about Advent?" Others asked, "What is Advent?" Maybe, most had worked on Sundays for so long and had not gone to church for so long that they had lost touch with the Christ of Christmas. They wanted the business generated by Christmas shopping and celebrations but did not care if children, band members, float riders, spectators, etc. were missing Sunday morning worship services to line up for the parade before the streets were closed to traffic. We wanted a 2:00 P.M. start; but finally they compromised to 1:00 P.M.: And then they complained that they were losing an hour of sales. They wanted us to celebrate "Falmouth Christmas By The Sea" and ignore the Christ of Christmas.
Because of the events of September 11 and the current War on Terrorism, the House of Representatives and Senate and President have declared Tuesday, December 4, 2001 to be a "Day Of Reconciliation" for the whole nation. The Capitol Rotunda will be closed on Tuesday to all but our elected officials, who will use it to pray for God to forgive and to heal our United States of America. They will ask God to bless America. They and other leaders have encouraged churches to be open for prayers for reconciliation on Tuesday. This event reminds me of times when prophets called Israel to prayer and when George Washington and other presidents have called on Americans to pray for our country.
I had planned to preach an Advent sermon series on "Biblical Pictures of Jesus." This was to be the third message. But because of Tuesday’s importance I want to preach to you today about reconciliation and then to tell you even more about what Jesus is and will do for those who pray to, confess, worship and obey him. Jesus is more than just a reconciler. For the next few moments we will note five of the many pictures that this Scripture gives of Jesus. 1. The Image of the Invisible God. 2. The Creator. 3. The Head of the Body. 4. The Reconciler. 5. The Presenter.
I. The IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD.(v.15)
Our refrigerator, dressers, end tables, book cases, etc. are covered with pictures. I am always looking for more magnets to attach pictures to the refrigerator and to the file cabinets in my office. We all love to look at the pictures of those whom we love. My wife and I have about two dozen photo albums of our married life. The greatest photo album of all time is the Bible. It gives us word pictures of Jesus, "the image of the invisible God…" If we have seen Jesus, we have seen God. "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him…"(v.19) As Christians, we believe in the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Do I understand the concept of the Trinity? Hardly, since I am only human and not divine. The Incarnation, the Christmas story, that we celebrate during Advent helps me to understand a bit more.
Sometimes we see pictures of ugly people. I am not talking about the people who were so ugly that when they were born, the doctor slapped their mothers instead of them. There are names that I can say and you immediately get the picture. John Wilkes Booth. Adolph Hitler. Osama bin Laden. They all bring immediate and unpleasant reactions to our minds. When we say "Jesus," we get an immediate picture of a loving Savior. A baby in a manger. A boy in the temple and carpenter shop. A loving man taking children on his knee. A kind man feeding hungry multitudes. A man forgiving an adulteress. A man who knows our weakness, yet loves us... God is a Spirit and we will never see him: But in Jesus we see all that God represents and reflects.
On Thursday, my son Steven and daughter-in-law Heather showed me an ultra sound picture of my next granddaughter. It took some effort for the technician to get the picture; but when she did they saw the baby’s profile and saw that she was a girl.(Her picture sort of reminded me of ET: But don’t tell them that I said so!) This Advent Season all of us must vow to make an effort to restudy the Christmas Story from the Holy Bible. Through the carols, decorations, cantatas, TV specials, sermons, devotionals, etc. we must get to know this God better and better. After all, He is our Heavenly Father. By the way, "An atheist has no invisible means of support." Does the invisible God support you? Oh, oh, time to go on to the next picture.