Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The spoilers are spoiled!

Sermon for Christmas Day, preached on Friday, December 25, 2015.

    So how many of you have not yet seen the new Star Wars movie?  Well, you won't need to because I am going to spoil the ending for you.  Don't you hate when people spoil something for you?  Don't you hate it when the surprise is revealed or the joke is spoiled?  Well, what about when spoilers intrude upon our happy lives?  I am here to tell you that nothing can spoil Christmas.
    Wait a minute, you say.  Pastor, you don’t know my family.  They can spoil anything.  You don’t know the troubles I am dealing with at home or at work.  You don’t know what the doctor just told me.  You don’t know what is going on with my finances.  There are a lot of things that can spoil Christmas.  Well, you are correct.  I don’t know all that is going on at home and work.  But I do know that none of this can spoil what God has done.  Because He has come for exactly this.
    Today on Christmas morning we heard of the Word made flesh, the glory of God incarnate in a baby.  This is John’s version of Immanuel – God with us.  What is beyond the reach of our Immanuel God?  The Word that spoke in creation is now made flesh to speak forgiveness, life, and salvation.  What can spoil this miracle news?  What can steal God’s glory made to shine in the dark night of all our sins, all our problems, all our ills, all our fears, and all our anxieties?
    The Light shines in the darkness.  This is not a conditional statement.  It is not that the Light might shine or could shine but a declaration.  The Light shines in the darkness.  The darkness of sin and guilt and unworthy sinners.  That is where the Light shines.  The darkness of infection and affliction.
    That is where the Light shines.  All that troubles us in this body and this life.  That is where the Light shines.  In the darkness of our weakened condition because of sin and the death that threatens to erase our life and all our memories.  That is where the Light shines.  Every affliction of the soul, from despair to desperation.  That is where the Light shines.
    The Light shines and the darkness has not overcome it.  No matter how it appears to your eyes.  The darkness has not over come it.  This again is not a conditional statement – not a what if or what might be or even what could be.  This is God’s declaration.  This is what is.  No matter how it appears to you now, the darkness has not overcome the Light of Christ.
    His forgiveness is greater than all our sins.  No matter how lost and guilty we are, we are not beyond the reach of His Light that cleanses, forgives, and renews.  No matter how wounded our bodies and our down our spirits, we are not beyond the reach of His healing and sustaining grace.  He gives us what we need for this moment and He gives us eternal life.  The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
    Not even death can steal the light or take from what God has done.  The Light shines even in graveyards and funeral homes.  Death’s sting has been stolen and right here, in the midst of the world where the devil loves to gloat, God has delivered life to us.
    We have this life now and we keep it for eternity.  The world is filled with spoilers – just like those who tell you about the movie you have not yet seen.  The devil snickers thinking he can cast his long dark shadow of disappointment over everything.  But not Christ.  Not the Light.  It shines and the darkness can’t win.
    It’s true.  The party will end.  The bills will have to be paid.  Gifts will be returned.  Memories will fade.  But Christ remains. The world didn’t recognize Him but even that did not stop Him.  His own people did not receive Him; so He welcomed strangers like you and me.  To all who receive Him, God makes them His sons and daughters and opens heaven’s splendor to us all.
    You surely do have troubles.  You have spoilers all around you.  But these will end and Christ remains.  Satan, the world, your worst enemies, your worst fears, your wounded heart, and your bitter memories... they cannot spoil Christmas.  Christ has shown us His glory and His truth.  We have seen it.  It is the glory of the everlasting Son of the Father, shining with light, life, forgiveness, hope, and truth. 
     All that is left to us is to believe this, to rejoice in the God who delivers us from all the spoilers in our lives – even those we cause for ourselves.  All that is left to us is to keep our eyes, our hearts, and our focus on the Light that shines in the darkness.

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