Summary: This week marked a transition on our calendars. On Friday, retailers hosted Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when the mad rush of the commercial Christmas season gets into full steam. Today, the worldwide Christian church begins a period of time
This week marked a transition on our calendars. On Friday, retailers hosted Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when the mad rush of the commercial Christmas season gets into full steam. One article that I read explained that, “Black Friday gets its name from the hope that on that day merchants’ financial statements will move out of the red and into the black. The traditional start to the holiday shopping season generates as much as 40 percent of annual revenues and nearly all the year’s profits for key gift destinations such as toy stores and apparel chains.” (http://money.cnn.com/2003/11/29/news/companies/blackfriday_results_update/)
To generate those sales, many retailers opened their doors at 6AM and some very eager consumers even camped out in the parking lot to get the best early bird specials. Maybe some of you went shopping with millions of other Americans.
In case you’re wondering, by all initial indications, Black Friday was a busy and successful day. According to CNN, retail stores took in $7.2 billion in sales on Friday, up 4.8 percent from a year earlier. And the Walmart chain said that sales at its U.S. stores grew 6.3 percent to a record $1.52 billion on the day after Thanksgiving. In summary, Black Friday was good news for our recovering US economy. (http://money.cnn.com/2003/11/29/news/companies/blackfriday_results_update/)
That was Friday, the start of the secular holiday season. Today, the worldwide Christian church begins a period of time called Advent. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas.
Hopefully, you have noticed the beautiful way that Betty Bauer and Des Weller have decorated our church for the Christmas season. And with the lighting of our first Advent candle, we are preparing for coming of Christ into our lives. And Advent points us to the real reason for the season. Christmas is about Jesus!
Over the next four weeks-- as we celebrate Advent and prepare for the coming of Christ—I want to reflect with you on the real reason for the season.
There are two traps that I want to help you avoid in this season building up to Christmas. The first trap is to get caught up in the secular meaning and practice of Christmas to the point where Jesus is largely unseen. To celebrate Christmas without Jesus is like celebrating a birthday without the guest of honor present. No one would think of doing that, so WHY is it that it can be so easy sometimes to get caught up in the secular spirit of the season. Christmas is precisely about the birth of the Savior—our Savior—and we must always keep Jesus before us in this season.
The second trap or snare is that we celebrate the birth of Jesus but fail to grasp the real significance of his coming into the world. Just exactly WHO is Jesus and WHAT does his coming into our world demand of me. To celebrate the birth of Jesus without a good grasp of WHO He really is like going to the birthday party of a stranger. You’re there at the party but you don’t know why you’re there. And so, in today’s sermon, I want to consider with you whether or not we are truly seeing Jesus for who he REALLY is.
A. The Importance of Seeing Jesus In This Season
Let me begin by offering an interesting quote from John Piper in his book, Seeing and Savoring Jesus. In that book, he says the following:
When we see Jesus for who he really is, we savor him. That is, we delight in him as true and beautiful and satisfying… Seeing Jesus saves and sanctifies… There is no more important issue than seeing Jesus for who he really is and savoring what we see above all else. (John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ)
Will you see Christ and even savor Him during this holiday season? What does it mean to savor something (or in this case, someone)? To savor means to taste and enjoy. If you were invited to a delicious banquet and only looked at the food from afar, it could not be said of you that you savored that meal. To savor is to take in and thoroughly enjoy. And in this Adevnt season, we are called to do just that with Jesus. We are not to admire Jesus from afar but actually SAVOR (and throughly enjoy) Jesus and all his wonderful benefits in our lives.
And to do this, we need to be able to see and [ersonally appreciate just WHO Jesus is and WHAT he has done for us. There is a critical importance to see Jesus for WHO He really is!
B. The Importance of Seeing Jesus for Who He Really Is (Hebrews 1:1-14)
As we listen in to the Letter to the Hebrews, we will begin to see Jesus in proper perspective. You see, the letter of Hebrews was written to a group of Christians who had begun to loose their joy in Jesus. They were no longer savoring Him. And so the author addresses his audience (and us today) to remind us of the absolute importance and superiority of Jesus in all things!