Sermons

Summary: A message on obedience in the face of opposition

INTRODUCTION

Many communities are forced to reckon with good things that somehow slip through the cracks. In Claymont DE, one of those things ended up as a blessing. The community has developed a quarter-century-long tradition around a quirky piece of folklore—the humble Claymont Christmas Weed, which locals decorate every year. Despite its diminutive size and unorthodox locale, it has become a defining centerpiece of the Claymont holiday celebration.

It started back on a slow news day in 1993, when a local newspaper photographer captured an image of a wild fir tree growing out of the cracked pavement of Philadelphia Pike. Neighbors and motorists in passing had adorned it with a few modest ornaments, and the image of the plucky shrub—dubbed “the Christmas weed” in the headline—did the early 90s equivalent of going viral.

Unfortunately, the photo caught the eye of officials at the Delaware Department of Transportation, who considered it a potential traffic hazard and scheduled it for prompt removal. The DOT’s Scroogelike response escalated a community outcry; not only was it promptly replaced several times, but a reporter wrote a sentimental fable about it that was well-received by the general public.

Twenty-five years later, Claymont celebrates the weed with a actual parade of cheerleaders, marching bands, and fire trucks. Barbara Harbin, who organizes the festivities, understands the appeal: "We say it represents Claymont. We're not pretty, but we're plucky. We are resilient, and we keep coming back."

One secret of Christmas joy is that blessings come from unexpected places in unexpected forms. The young, the vulnerable, the rejected ... those tend to be the vessels that God chooses for his glory. Those who follow God not only glorify Him but receive glory from Him.

We continue our Christmas series today picking up the narrative of Joseph, Mary, and the toddler Jesus who have relocated to Egypt in order to escape the murderous Herod.

[Matthew 2:19-23]

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

THOSE WHO FOLLOW GOD ACCEPT HIS DIRECTION (19-21)

Matthew resumes the story of vv.13-15. Angel and dream reappear for Joseph as before. The wording of the Lord’s command begins exactly as in v.13, but now Joseph and his family are told to leave Egypt and return home to Israel. The immediate danger has passed with Herod’s death. The wording of the narrative echoes the angel’s command and highlights Joseph’s careful obedience. As we learned last week, slow obedience is no obedience. But Joseph is not slow to obey. When an angel from the Lord shows up and tells him to move, he doesn’t check his calendar first. Joseph is a model for us of accepting God’s direction.

It's considered "the other drug problem." Millions of people don't take their medicine correctly —or quit taking it altogether—and the consequences can be deadly. On average, half of patients with chronic illnesses like heart disease or asthma skip doses or otherwise mess up their medication. One report concludes that people with initially symptom-free diseases are most at risk. For instance, just 51 percent of high blood pressure patients stick with their medication as prescribed. Former President Bill Clinton was one high-profile example. He stopped taking his cholesterol-lowering medication and later needed open-heart surgery. The report estimates that this drug problem could be costing the country $177 billion in medical bills and lost productivity.

The reams of information stapled to the bag confuse some people. Other people forget to take their medication or they start feeling better and toss the rest of the bottle. Even doctors mess up and take their own prescriptions just 79 percent of the time. The FDA is studying the problem.

We try to teach and preach God's Word in “user friendly” ways so that we can all understand it and put it into practice and accept God’s direction. Our small groups, classes, children & youth ministries are all geared toward understanding and accepting God’s direction. Discipleship partners is a new initiative toward encouraging one another to accept God’s direction. Are you accepting God’s direction in your life?

If so, terrific! Maybe you’re not seeing the fruit of it yet, but keep following Him in the way He wants you to go.

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