Summary: Christmas Sermon that points to the cross. God brought peace on earth through the cross of Jesus.
You’ve probably heard it a few times in the past weeks.
In just 8 lines, Clement Clarke Moore sets the picturesque scene for one of America’s most beloved poems; “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” he called it. It actually set the course for many of our views and traditions about Santa in the US. It was published anonymously at first, in the Troy, NY Sentinel, Dec. 23, 1823. Who doesn’t see the mental picture as the lines spell it out on the canvas of the imagination?
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap…
The scene that Paul sets isn’t nearly as nostalgic and merry, as he writes the 2nd chapter of Ephesians here. But the literary set up of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” is very similar.
Ephesians 2:1-6 (NIV)
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
You, being dead in your transgressions and sins, all of us, gratifying the cravings of our flesh, being objects of wrath…God, being rich in mercy, made us alive, raised us up, seated us with Him!
This is so much more than just a poem about a family settling in for a night’s sleep and Santa Claus interrupting it! This is the story of how our entire futures were turned around, and how your life can be completely turned around today!
Peace on earth, good will toward men!
We’ve been looking at different aspects of that this month – the way that Jesus removed the barriers between people. We looked last week at the way that Jesus becoming a man made for peace between Him and us. Today, we really get to the essence of Eph 2. This whole thing really is about peace on earth – the peace that was announced that night Jesus was born!
Peace on earth. It’s hard to envision what that looks like, isn’t it? If it was defined as just “the absence of war,” we really would have no good point of reference. Of the past 3,400 years, there has been an absence of wars for just 268 – only about 8% of recorded history.
If we tried to define peace on earth as the absence of stress in life, that would be hard to picture too, wouldn’t it? Peace on earth doesn’t come with Christmas break. Most parents would attest to that!
When God sends an army of angels to announce glory to God, and peace on earth, that peace is much bigger than the usual ideas people have about peace. It’s the peace that we have with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Are you tuned in? Peace on earth is really about God’s plan for peace with God!
What? You and God are good? You don’t have any issues with God? That’s wise of you, but there are some issues to consider…
Let’s run over Eph 2 one more time…
…you were dead in your transgressions and sins…
we were by nature objects of wrath…
we were dead in transgressions…
you…were far away…
foreigners and aliens…
These are all past tense; all before Christ was in the lives of these believers. What about you?
We need to be at peace with God. We need to be “reconciled.”
Let’s make sure we’re together here.
After Christmas this year, when you sit down with your records and the bank’s records and begin to make sure they agree, we call that “reconciling” the books. That means, we go over them to make sure that there’s no disagreement between them. Reconcile means “To make friendly again.” Where there’s disagreement, you things get straightened out.
Remember “Home Alone,” where old man Marley who lived next door talks about having an argument with his son? Things were said, and a relationship was put on ice for years. I’m afraid that kind of situation is too true-to-life for some families. And then, at the very end, he and his son, who haven’t spoken for a long time, are hugging each other. Reconciled.