Summary: A sermon about the good news we have in Jesus and being prepared
The beginning of Christmas.
Ever got a puncture and found that the jack handle is missing?
Ever tried to undo a nut and found you don’t have the correct spanner ?
Ever set out to bake a cake and found you don’t have any eggs?
I once turned up at a track meeting only to find I’d left my shorts at home -
pity I left it until I was removing my track pants before I found out!
If you are one of those people who have all your spanners hanging on the correct shapes in the garage or never lose your car keys you’ll find it hard to relate to all this.
The Boy Scouts have a saying - Be prepared.
Somehow you get the impression that a cousin of Jesus - John the Baptist -
was a little different.
There are some people - who - if you invited them to a society function you’d find it a little awkward to have them around - John was like that - John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
He was a man of the desert - he ate the food of the desert and he wore clothes from the desert..
Mark when he started writing his gospel missed out the birth of Jesus and talked about John the Baptist.
Yet as we approach Christmas - there is an important message from John the Baptist that is a vital Christmas message.
Let’s read together this morning the opening lines of Mark’s gospel read verse 1ff.
The beginning of the gospel - about Jesus Christ, the son of God. etc.
Prepare the way for the Lord make straight paths for him.
In the opening verse of Mark we learn three incredible facts about Christmas and in verse 3 we receive a very important instruction about how, in response to these facts, we are to approach Christmas and indeed all of Christian life.
Have you noticed how Christians, if they are not careful, can be spoilsports?
it is true that we need to return to the original Christmas message - but there is much else about Christmas that we can also enjoy:-
Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh was once invited to a party by Owl - the conversation went like this:-
"Eeyore," said Owl, "Christopher robin is giving a party."
"Very interesting" said Eeyore, "I suppose they will be sending me down the odd bits which got trodden on. Kind and Thoughtful. Not at all, don’t mention it."
"there is an invitation for you."
"What’s that like?"
"Yes, I heard you. Who dropped it?"
"This isn’t anything to eat, it’s asking you to the party. To-morrow."
Eeyore shook his head slowly.
"You mean little piglet. the little fellow with the excited ears. That’s piglet. I’ll tell him."
"No, No!" said Owl, getting quite fussy. "It’s you!"
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I’m sure. Christopher Robin said ’All of them! Tell all of them.’"
"All of them." except Eeyore?"
"All of them." said Owl sulkily.
"Ah!" said Eeyore. "A mistake, no doubt, but still, I shall come. Only don’t blame me if it rains."
There is nothing wrong with good fun.
There is nothing wrong with Christmas trees and tinsel and angels on trees and a childs delight at the unwrapping of gifts and striped candy and battery powered toys and feasts and laughter and sparkling eyes and pensive memories - All those things that make Christmas special should not be swept away in some puritanical purge.
But the question is how can they move from being no more than a passing experience to being an expression of a profound reality..
The opening line of Mark is The beginning of the Gospel - Gospel translated means literally good news -
The beginning of the good news is how it reads -
Our task at Christmas is not to chop down the tree of celebration - rather it is to rediscover the cause of celebration - What is this good news?
If we want to understand How Jesus is good news we need to look at some real life applications.
for Jesus to be good news we need to get beneath the layers of indifference to real people with real issues.
In Jesus’ life itself you can’t help but see evidence of good News - as a result of what he was doing huge crowds followed him around - You simply don’t attract huge crowds of 5,000 and more in what today would be regarded sparsely populated areas - unless there is something special going on.
Jesus in his earthly ministry spoke of an incredible hope and gave ample physical and spiritual evidence that what he was holding out was more than words but a tangible reality.