A. How wonderful it is to gather together to worship Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!
1. If you are visiting with us today we extend to you a warm welcome and hope that your experience with us and the Lord today will be a blessed one.
B. I thought we might start with something on the light side. I’ve gathered a few pictures that I think you will enjoy.
1. As you know we received a lot of snow over the last couple of weeks. (show slide) Here’s a picture of a heavy snow accumulation. I’m sure it looks that way on the Tug Hill Plateau every winter.
2. (show slide) I saw a lot of cars looking like this, this week, including my own at times. I don’t know if you can see the license plate, so let me enlarge it (show slide). The vanity plate reads “Lazy.” Who would have known?
3. (show slide) I got a kick out of this picture. Maybe they should change the sign in the winter to say, “Caution: Slide may be slippery.” Or “do not put your tongue on the metal slide.”
4. (show blank slide) You’ve seen train crossing signs, deer crossing signs, and pedestrian crossing signs. (Show slide) But I’ll bet you’ve never seen a Santa Crossing sign.
5. (show blank slide) If you are looking for a great gift for your computer geek, I’ve got just the gift for you. (Show slide) The Bathtub Computer Table. Beware of waves and splashing.
6. (show blank slide) What is the one gift that nobody likes? (Show Slide) Poor fruitcakes!
C. Did you catch the story this week about the Christmas card that arrived just a little late?
1. (show slide) This postcard featuring a color drawing of Santa Claus and a young girl was mailed in 1914, but its journey was slower than Christmas - It just arrived in northwest Kansas.
2. The Christmas card was dated Dec. 23, 1914, and mailed to Ethel Martin of Oberlin, apparently from her cousins in Alma, Nebraska.
3. It’s a mystery where it spent most of the last century, Oberlin Postmaster Steve Schultz said. “It’s surprising that it never got thrown away,” he said. “How someone found it, I don’t know.”
4. Ethel Martin, who was supposed to receive the card is deceased, but Schultz said the post office wanted to get the card to a relative.
5. That’s how the 93-year-old relic ended up with Bernice Martin, Ethel’s sister-in-law.
6. Bernice said she believed the card had been found somewhere in Illinois. “That’s all we know,” she said. “But it is kind of curious. We’d like to know how it got down there. But wherever they kept it, it was in perfect shape.”
7. The card was placed inside another envelope with modern postage for the trip to Oberlin — the one-cent postage of the early 20th century wouldn’t have covered it, Martin said.
8. Ethel Martin may have waited for that card from her cousins and may have wondered why it never arrived.
9. In many ways, Christmas is all about waiting.
D. The countdown to Christmas started well before Thanksgiving, and with each passing day the excitement and preparations for its arrival have been accelerating.
1. The lights and decorations have been put up, the stores are full, and the music is filling the air.
2. How many of you have enjoyed Advent Calendars over the years?
3. Our girls always enjoyed opening a new door each day, especially when there is a piece of chocolate behind each door. Their Aunt Anita often provides them with the calendar.
4. But as each day passed, they were one day closer to Christmas.
E. Ask most children what the coming of Christmas means, and who and what they are waiting for, and they will tell you that they are waiting for a visit from the jolly fellow with a white beard, red suit, and a sack full of presents.
1. The Christmas Holiday songs have been with us for so long and we have heard them so often that we know them well.
2. One of people’s favorites is “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” which debuted in 1934.
3 You remember the words, don’t you?
4. “Oh! You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, I’m telling you why:Santa Claus is coming to town!”
“He’s making a list, He’s checking it twice, Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town!”
“He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake!”
5. For many people, kids included, Christmas is about waiting for Santa to come to town.
6. But let me tell you, the One whose coming I’m looking forward to won’t be coming from the North Pole with 8 reindeer and a sleigh.
7. No, the one whose coming I’m most excited about is coming from Heaven and will be arriving on the clouds of the sky!
F. Many churches and Christian traditions use the word Advent to describe the Christmas Season.
1. What you may not know is that the word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.”
2. So for many people Advent is the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ; His first coming.
3. Advent is the beginning of the Western Christian year and commences on Advent Sunday.
4. The Eastern churches begin the year on September 1st.
5. The Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming.
6. For many Christians, the season of Advent serves a dual reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of the Messiah as well as the waiting that Christians today endure as they await the second coming of Christ.
7. Therefore, Advent is far more than simply celebrating a 2,000 year old event in history.
8. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God through Christ.
9. And so we affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today in His church, and that He will come again some day.
10. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Christian ethics, for holy living arises from a profound sense that we live “between the Advents (comings)” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people.
G. So today as we gather for worship to celebrate the birth of Jesus – we rejoice in the fact that He came once before.
1. We marvel in the wonder and simplicity of the story.
2. The virgin Mary, pledged to be married, became pregnant with the Christ child through the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. An angel appeared to her to give her that message.
4. The angel Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Lk. 1:30-33)
5. “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Lk. 1:34)
6. The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (Lk. 1:35-37)
7. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Lk. 1:38)
8. Then an angel of the Lord had to appear to Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, to convince him that her story of a miraculous conception was true.
9. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (“The Lord Saves”), because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:20-21)
10. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us.’” (Mt. 1:22-23)
11. Then came the trip to Bethlehem to register for the census.
12. There was no room for them in the inn, so they stayed in the stable, and it was there that Jesus was born. The King of Kings was born in a barn – how humble is that!
13. And the Bible tells us, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Lk. 2:8-12)
14. “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Lk. 2:16-18)
15. Jesus the Christ child, grew and at around age 30 began His ministry.
16. He was baptized, faced the temptations in the desert and then began His ministry of teaching and healing.
17. Three years later after periods of great popularity and then brutal opposition, Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, was buried, and on the third day was raised from the dead.
18. For the next 40 days he made many appearances to His disciples giving them convincing proof that He was alive.
19. Then Jesus led them out to the vicinity of Bethany and he lifted up his hands and blessed them.
20. While He was blessing them, He was lifted up before their very eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight.
21. The Bible says, “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” (Acts 1:10-11)
H. So as we celebrate Jesus’ first coming we also look forward to His second coming.
1. And when will that take place? When will He come again?
2. During His ministry, Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ’Watch!’” (Mk. 13:32-37)
I. As we wait for Jesus’ return, how should we be waiting?
1. We should be waiting patiently.
a. If you are like me, then you find it hard to be patient.
b. We become impatient waiting for the printer to print, or the coffee to brew, or the drive through at the fast food restaurant to move, or the traffic light to change, right?
c. We live in a culture of convenience and instant gratification, and so we have lost the art of patiently waiting.
d. But we are not in control of when Christ will come, so we must just wait patiently.
2. We should be waiting expectantly.
a. God is busy bringing about his full plan for the world and for us.
b. In His perfect timing, He will bring that plan to completion, and not a moment before.
c. And God’s wonderful plan is so full of hope.
d. The hope of God’s love and forgiveness.
e. The hope of a release from the trouble, brokenness, and suffering of this world.
f. The hope of a reunion with God’s people who have gone before us.
g. How great it will be to be with God and His people for all eternity in the perfect place He has prepared for us!
3. We should be waiting faithfully.
a. We don’t want Jesus to return and find us sleeping.
b. We want Jesus to return and find us doing our assigned task of living for Him.
c. The Apostle Peter addressed the issue of the delay of Christ’s return and our responsibility in his second letter. He wrote: “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ’coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (2 Pt. 3:3-12)
J. Christmas is only two days away, we know that for sure, but the Second Coming of Jesus might happen at any moment.
1. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that Jesus is comin’ to town.
2. He’s coming back to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.
3. Are you ready? Are you believing in Jesus and living your life in a way that pleases Him?
4. If so, then you can’t wait for Him to come to town.
5. If you know you are not ready for Him to come, then I urge you to get ready. Get busy!
6. No one knows the hour or the day He will come, but we know He’s comin’!
“Waiting for Godot” by Rodney Buchanan.
“He’s Coming To Town” by Melvin Newland.