Summary: No one thinks of getting redemption for Christmas.
Today is the second Sunday in Advent, which is the time when we celebrate and anticipate the arrival of someone very special.
We’ve all experienced a mild form of anticipation lately. My husband and I anticipated our move up here. My former church anticipated having to tell me good-bye and to find a new minister. The search committee anticipated our arrival, which signifies the end to their chores. Kids are beginning to anticipate being out of school for a while. College kids are anticipating a trip home for the holidays. Parents are anticipating the arrival of their kids, grandkids, and parents.
But over and above all that, we’re anticipating the coming of someone extraordinary. This person is going to come at the end of the year. He’s been watching everyone on earth all year long. He sees us everywhere we are, everywhere we go. We can’t hide from him. He knows our every thought. He knows what’s in our hearts.
He knows if we’ve been bad or good. He has a list, and on this list is the name of everyone who’s been good. If our names are on this list, we get a reward. If our names aren’t on the list, we get nothing, or we might even get some kind of punishment.
We wait for his arrival with great anticipation and trepidation. We plan for it. We decorate for it. We buy stuff for it. We spend a lot of money in the hope that his appearance will bring us the warmth and joy and love that we’ve been missing. We place our complete faith in him, hoping that he will be able to release us from the prison of unhappiness, frustration, and pain that we’ve built for ourselves.
In his name we plan great feasts to be shared with our families. For his sake we put aside our differences for a short time and try to get along, if only for a few hours. In his honor we give gifts to one another, are nice to one another, try to recapture the warm, loving feelings we remember from childhood.
Who is this guy? Who is this miracle worker? Who is this person who comes once a year and makes us all try to be better people, at least for a while? Who is this guy that we worship and try to please and curry favor with?
We tell stories about him. We have television programs about him - some that have been on since I was little. We have parties to celebrate his coming. The very thought of him brings peace and goodwill among our friends and neighbors and co-workers.
Let me give you some hints as to this person’s identity.
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why.
Sound familiar? What does it mean? Watch out, don’t cry, don’t pout. It means be on guard. Be of good cheer. Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy.
He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.
The Bible talks about a list. One which is found in a very important book. Daniel 12, verse 1 talks about the end times. Daniel has a vision of a man who tells him, "But at that time your people - everyone whose name is found written in the book - will be delivered."
Daniel 7, verses 9 and following, describe a vision of God, "Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened."
In Revelation 3, verse 5, Jesus says to the angel of the church at Sardis, "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels."
As for the naughty, they’re on a list, too. Revelation 13, verse 8 says that "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast - all whose names have not been written in the book of life." Remember Revelation 20, verse 15? "If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
Well, you get the picture. There’s a list, and we all want to be on it. Let’s move on.
He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. Psalm 33, verses 13 and 14 tell us that, "From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth."
Matthew 6:6 says, "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. Let’s see. How about, "Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’