Summary: This sermon is an adaptation of a story by Max Lucado. It is a reminder of the intensity of the love that God has for us, and that He will never Leave us or forsake us regardless of where we have been.
Isa 53:6, Rom 8:7, Jam 4:4, Rom 5:10, 2 Cor 5:19, Rom 5:8, Phil 2:5 - 8
December 3 , 2000
I. I have preached this sermon before, and it is a rare thing that I preach the same exact one twice.
A. But, in light of what I have been preaching about lately this one needs to be heard again.
II. Five year-old Madeline climbed into her father s lap. "Did you have enough to eat?" He asked her. She smiled and patted her stomach. "I can t eat any more.
A. "Did you have some of your Grandma s pie?" "A whole piece!"
B. Joe looked across the table at his mom. "Looks like you filled us up. Don t think we ll be able to do anything tonight but go to bed."
C. Madeline put her little hands on either side of his big face. "Oh, but, Poppa, this is Christmas Eve. You said we could dance."Joe faked a poor memory. "Did I now? I don t remember saying anything about dancing."
D. "But, Poppa," Madeline pleaded, "we always dance on Christmas Eve.
1. Just you and me, remember?"
2. A smile came from underneath his thick mustache. "Of course I remember. How could I forget?"
3. And he stood and took her hand in his, and for a moment, just a moment, his wife was alive again, and the two were walking into the den to spend another night before Christmas as they had spent so many, dancing away the evening.
4. They would have danced the rest of their lives, but then came the surprise pregnancy and the complications. Madeline survived. But her mother didn’t. And Joe, the thick-handed butcher from Minnesota, was left to raise his Madeline alone.
5. "Come on, Poppa."She tugged on his hand. "Let s dance before everyone comes." She was right. Soon the doorbell would ring and the relatives would fill the floor and the night would be past.
6. But, for now, it was just Poppa and Madeline.
E. The love of a parent for a child is a mighty force. Think about the couple with their newborn child.
1. The baby has absolutely nothing to offer its parents. No money. No skills. No words of wisdom.
2. To see an baby is to see utter helplessness. What is there to love?
3. Whatever it is, the parents have no trouble finding it. Just look at a mother’s face as she nurses her baby.
4. Or watch a Dad s eyes as he cradles the child.
5. And just try to harm or speak evil of that infant and you ll face a wrath that you’ll never want to face again, because the love of a parent is a mighty force.
F. Jesus once asked, if we humans who are sinful have such a love, how much more does God, the sinless and selfless Father, love us?
G. But what happens when the love isn t returned? What happens to the heart of the father when his child turns away?
III. Rebellion flew into Joe s world like a Minnesota blizzard. About the time she was old enough to drive, Madeline decided she was old enough to lead her life. And that life did not include her father.
A. "I should have seen it coming,"Joe would later say, "but for the life of me I didn t."
B. He didn t know what to do. He didn t know how to handle the pierced nose and the tight shirts. He didn t understand the late nights and the poor grades. And, most of all, he didn t know when to speak and when to be quiet.
C. She, on the other hand, had it all figured out. She knew when to speak to her father—never. She knew when to be quiet—always. The pattern was reversed, however, with the lanky, tattooed kid from down the street. He was no good, and Joe knew it.
D. And there was no way he was going to allow his daughter to spend Christmas Eve with that kid.
E. "You ll be with us tonight, young lady. You ll be at your grandma s house eating your grandma s pie. You ll be with us on Christmas Eve."
F. Though they were at the same table, they might as well have been on different sides of town.
1. Madeline played with her food and said nothing. Grandma tried to talk to Joe, but he was in no mood to chat.
2. Part of him was angry; part of him was heartbroken. And the rest of him would have given anything to know how to talk to this girl who once sat on his lap.
3. Soon the relatives arrived, bringing with them a welcome end to the awkward silence.