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Summary: Opening ourselves to God,to faith, first and foremost, is the key to having a meaningful Christmas season.

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“Opening Ourselves To God”

Opening Ourselves to "Christ"-mas

Psalm 122, Matthew 24:36, 42-44, Romans 13:11-14

(quotes taken from the NKJV unless noted)

Wakelee Church ~ November 28, 2004

Theme: Opening ourselves to God, first and foremost, is the key to having a meaningful Christmas season.

Introduction – Signs, signs, everywhere are signs…

Have you ever noticed that signs often tell a story? A “for sale” sign in the front of someone’s home often tell a story of a family in the midst of transition. An “open” sign in the business window tells the story that customers are welcome. A hastily hand-written

sign tells the story that something may be urgent. A professionally laid out, machine made sign tells the story of capability and efficiency.

Today we start a journey. And that journey has its own sign. In the Christian church, Advent is the sign that something better is coming.

Advent, an odd word maybe, means appearing, coming nearer, or arriving. Today marks the beginning of this time a preparation, a time of going toward the coming again of the Messiah, a time of great expectation and anticipation.

But exactly what is it that we anticipate? Are we preparing for yet another month-long shopping spree that some have called, “economic first-degree murder” – willfully and with malice afterthought murdering our bank accounts?

Or maybe we’re getting ready for the seven-ten pounds the average American will gain this season? Or what often seems to be the suicidal traffic jams on Westnedge Avenue or Grape Road?

Or are we preparing our hearts and spirits to receive again the coming of the Christ child into the world? It’s the difference you see, of actually experiencing the joy of singing “O Holy Night” instead of finding ourselves living the holy nightmare.

For the many who faithfully observe the consumer Christmas, Christmas hardly ever measures up to their fantasies. And even for those who manage to have some of their Christmas wishes fulfilled, the season is over so quickly that the need to make New Year’s resolutions to save more and eat less, bears down on them even before the calendar changes.

This year I want to offer us something different. No flashy videos or complex Advent programs, this year let’s open ourselves up to the real meaning of this season, Jesus Christ…His birth…His life…His death…His resurrection.

This invitation is the reason why we light the Advent wreath. It’s the reason why you will see poinsettias and the Christmas tree. It’s the reason why the manger scene will be placed outside. It’s the reason why we come to worship and the reason why we await Christmas day.

Instead of better stuff, the sign of Advent invites us to dream dreams of a better world, to allow expectant visions that have nothing to do with sugarplum fairies to dance in our heads. It’s a sign that says peace will come to this world, that God is with us, that we have nothing to fear.

Advent invites us to fill the cup of today with a full measure of tomorrow. It’s the sign that something better is coming.

This year we’re going to look at opening ourselves up to this idea of CHRISTmas. Because we have studied the generosity of God in preparation for Thanksgiving, we can now come and prepare ourselves to open up to our God, to our real lives, to others, and to the true joy of this season. And, I personally believe, that there are benefits when we do.

I - There is joy and peace in opening ourselves to God! - Psalm 122

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord…’” – Psalm 122:1

The first benefit is a sense of joy and peace that the world can’t offer. For King David, he sensed this joy and this peace, as he wrote the 122nd Psalm. “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” And when he prayed that “peace may be within your walls and prosperity within your palaces.”

Christmas should be a season that we celebrate, not dread. A season that shouldn’t train us emotionally, physically, and financially, but fills us spiritually.

The joy and peace that David shares is not one that can be bought at Target, Walmart, or Meijer. The gladness and serenity comes when we open ourselves to the One to whom this house belongs, God alone.

Someone once asked Wayne Grestsky, the great hockey player, how he managed to become the best goal-scorer in the history of the game. He simply replied, “While everyone else is chasing the puck, I go to where the puck is going to be.”

This Christmas instead of chasing the dream of joy and peace, we can instead turn to God and prepare ourselves to be there when that joy and peace arrives. When we put God and especially Jesus Christ, at the focus, joy and peace flow naturally.

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