SER # 39V
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
2nd SUNDAY OF ADVENT
COLOR: BLUE OR PURPLE
SUNDAY DECEMBER 8th 2019
TEXTS: LUKE 2: 15 – 20
THEME: CHRISTMAS GIFT THAT WON’T BREAK – LOVE
Today marks the second Sunday of Advent. We light our second purple candle of Peace.
This Advent we are studying an Advent book “Christmas Gifts that Won’t Break: Expanded Edition with Devotions” by James W. Moore and Jacob Armstrong; Abingdon Press 2017).
Last Sunday we shared about HOPE as a gift that would not break. We concluded that Jesus is our hope, he has been able to break down walls that used to separate us from the love of God. He has put down all kinds of walls that stop us from being fully used of God. Walls that limit our potential as a believer, mother, father grandparent and the list goes on. We have hope because Jesus has become our refuge and he heals the broken souls.
This Sunday we would like to examine the gift of LOVE. We can only start this discussion by reminding ourselves of the words we read from John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” In essence we can say that Jesus is a product of love from the father to us. Through this gift of love (Jesus) we are able to overcome all challenges that come our way. This reminds us of what the writer of 1 John 3:16 wrote; “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us….”
We can experience Christmas in three ways: a) We experience Christmas when we love God. At the center of every Christmas is love. We show our love for God when, we fall down in awe and wonder like the shepherds did on that night. God invites us to give our best like the wisemen did in those days. We are invited to trust and obey like Mary and Joseph did.
- b) We experience Christmas when we love our families. When there is family love, we long for family get together. People will drive for miles even on a bad weather just to be with the family. We feel longing for home. When we come together as a family, we are not only supposed to feel at home to be at home with everybody who has gathered on that special day. When love is lived within the family setting there is always peace and harmony. There is tenderness and respect for one another. There is thoughtfulness and caring for one another in the family and there is Christmas. c) We experience Christmas when we love other people. This happens when we see Christ in other people and love them as God’s children. Jesus reminds us that as we do to the least of these, we do that to Christ. Rev James Moore in the book we are reading tells the Christmas story of a village cobbler by the name Conrad who had no family. Conrad had a dream that Jesus was going to visit him on Christmas day. Some neighbors stopping by his place to wish him well on Christmas Day they found him clearing the snow on the entrance of his house. After visiting with him for a while, they went inside his house to see the decorations and there they found that Conrad had set a table with two chairs. The neighbor curious why two chairs when he had no family wanted to know who was expected to use the second chair. The cobbler told them Jesus had promised to come on that Christmas day hence he had to make a room for him. After the neighbors left Conrad stood by the window waiting for Jesus to come because everything was ready. Then he saw a beggar passing by, Conrad invited him in and offered him some warm clothes and warm meal. When the beggar left Conrad was back at the window and while there, he saw an old lady carrying a heavy load. He went out took the load of her. Invited her in for a hot meal and after she rested enough Conrad helped her get her load and she left. Conrad was back to the window and before long he heard a cry of a child at the door. When he opened the door there was a poor little girl who was crying because she was lost, cold and hungry. He invited her in feed her changed her clothes and later he was able to re-unite her with her parents. By this time, it was late and Conrad was disappointed that Jesus never shown up. He fell on his chair disappointed when he heard a voice from Jesus telling him that he come to see him three times and each time he was welcomed. Jesus told him that as Conrad welcomed the beggar, the old lady and a child he was welcoming Jesus. (Christmas Gift that won’t break – P. 42 – 44). We can say therefore Jesus kept his promise for as we welcome the least around us, we are welcoming Jesus himself.
As we prepare to receive the gift of Love through Jesus we are reminded of the following truths:
- A gift of love cast out fear: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear……” (1 John 4:18). When the gift of love come the shepherds, fear was taken away. The Angel says to them fear not for today a king is born. The Angel also had to visit with Joseph and encouraged him by telling him not to fear to take Mary as his wife. Advent sets our fears down and we learn to trust on this loving savior. God’s love come to our injured place and brings comfort and peace. This gift of love is even experienced as a child runs to the mother to give him or her a kiss after they have been hurt. It is because we know that Jesus is the light that we are not afraid of darkness. It is because we know the light conquered death, hence we are not afraid of dying. We can in fact say like David in Psalm 23: 4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
- A gift of love comes to where we are: The gift of love meets, us at the point one need. The shepherd who watched the sheep at night might qualify what we call today third shift workers. Usually third shift is for the juniors or new comers to the company. There many inconveniences but the main one is you deprive yourself out of the sleep and the body clock has to reset. This makes these workers tired and sometimes suffer from other side effects. When love came the shepherds were the first to be notified of the good news. Jesus is born and put at the stable and the shepherd had the opportunity to worship the baby. God send his love to the sinful world so that we can experience new life.
- The gift of love means that we aren’t alone: Jesus the perfect love is omnipresent. This reminds us everyday that his presence through the Holy Spirit is forever with us. Jesus is with us for he is Christ Immanuel. To Zacharia though he was a lone in the Temple on that day. Scared and with a heavy heart. But we know he was not alone. “Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zachariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the Angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zachariah; your prayer has been heard……”(Luke 1:11 – 13). God hears the longings of our hearts and rescues us at the right time. God heard the desire of Hannah the mother of Samuel. God fulfilled his promise to Sara and Abram. Love is God ever-present among his people to lead protect and guide them like he did to the people of Israel. Led them with a cloud in the day and at night we a cloud of fire. A gift of love leads us to long for more: Love creates a kind of satisfaction that makes us want to have more and more. We long to be at the feet of Jesus. This long is transformative: it heals the broken souls, the cross that was a symbol of death by the Romans becomes a symbol of victory. The broken bread and poured juice become to us a symbol of forgiveness and wholeness. The baby laid on a manger not on a palace bed becomes the king the liberator of our souls and giver of hope