Sermon Ideas 4U - Archived Sermons -- AFTER Advent 2002
This page is in honour of the 'pesky, perpetual, predictable and persistent return of the Sabbath'!!!!!!!!!!!!!
November 29, 2015 -
Jeremiah 33: 14-16
Luke 21: 35-46
What do you want for Christmas? It’s a popular question? A popular song for children of a certain age, “All she wants for Christmas,” presumes that large adult teeth are preferred to an odd gap at the front of the mouth. I think its usually used to tease a child more than anything! However, if you ask a child that child will probably get out a well used copy of the Wish Book! The wish book is designed to increase the child’s wants, and those of adults as well, and therefore improve of the bottom line of Sears Canada! When I was young we also had the Eaton’s catalogue! On the other hand we had only one tv channel and no internet to tempt us and annoy our parents.
We all have our family stories, or have heard them on the radio, about the special Christmas with that special gift that “made the year!” or “made my childhood”!
Sometimes it’s a gift that was hard to get; the Cabbage Patch Kits of the early 180s. A store in town used one to entice people to shop in the store. Buy a toy get a ticket for the draw. The doll was locked in the office safe at night! One year I was looking for a certain hard to find gift and I was in Zellers and spied one just siting in a cart with a bunch of other items. I asked the manager who happened to be walking by at a very fast pace, if that was a “return cart or another customer’s shopping”. Slowing down only slightly he said, “Return cart. It’s the last one in the store, take it and run”!
When we come to church we are told that the real meaning of Christmas is the gift of Jesus who came to bring peace on earth and good will to all. Of course, we all know that!
Yet, the Christmas story CAN sound a bit like a broken record; same message, over and over, and over, with no progress! We’re still hoping for peace on earth and good will to all! The news still tells of war, violence and unrest!
What do WE expect at Christmas? What difference do we expect the birth of Jesus to make in our lives or in the world? Is the story of the birth of Jesus like the fable in which, “the boy who cried wolf”? Have we have ceased to give it any meaning or urgency? Have we really stopped listening? Or expecting anything?
Advent is a church season that, in a sense, invented time travel! In Advent we operate in three time zones at once. We have the ancient stories of the birth of the one who would come to save the people and the church has interpreted those texts to refer to Jesus who was said to have been born in Bethlehem approximately 2000 years ago. That is the “past hope”; an historic observance!
In the annual celebration we put a lot of emphasis on Jesus being reborn again this year, in each heart and life, now. That is the “present hope” of Christmas.
In the genre of literature we clergy call by the fancy and hard to pronounce name of apocalyptic, there is the expression of a future hope in which there will be no mistaking the resetting of the planet, the destruction of evil and the triumph of good. That is the “future hope” of Advent.
What difference does all of this make to life in Hants and Kings Counties of Nova Scotia in the waning days of 2015?
We don’t need many reminders of the things in the world that need fixing. Conflict in many places in the world have created millions and millions of refugees Their stories are being added to those of our ancestors who came across to this side of the pond, fleeing the “potato famine”. I read an article recently which asserted that if the government of Ireland had the will, there was other food for the people to eat but they were forced to emigrate to what became Canada. The “highland clearances” were clearly designed to promote the grazing of sheep over the subsistence of small farmers.
With millions of refugees in the world we sometimes wonder how we can make a difference with so many needy people. We wonder how we can do something meaningful.
We can make a difference for one family or one person. There are many ways to help.
A mosque in Texas was vandalized after the attacks in Paris and a seven year old boy spent some talking with his mother about what churches, synagogues and mosques, are for and how important everyone’s place of worship is to them and how terrible it would be for those people to have theirs vandalized. Afterward he decided to empty his piggy bank and donate the $20 inside to the mosque. A board member’s response was quoted in the press; saying that this small gesture was like a donation of a million dollars because it gave them hope.
Recently I ran into a young woman who was a child when I was her minister. She and her fiancé are very concerned about global warming and social justice. Her engagement ring is made of recycled stones and metals. The wedding rings will not be gold, or at least not newly mined gold because of their commitment to the environment and social justice. That one action will not save the lives or communities where irresponsible mining practices are destroying lives but they are a start.
Human beings have to put their hopes into action; its not like we are going to bring the kingdom about all by ourselves but it is, at least, a sign that we take the promises of Jesus birth seriously. Do we really want the poor to have enough to eat and to have a warm place to sleep? Do we really want people to have safe workplaces and not have that workplace damage the environment for generations, or do we just want that for Canadians?
Some of you have talked to me about helping the last refugee family that came to this area. You acknowledge that it was a great deal of work but it was meaningful and fulfilling as that one family found a home and a new life here in Canada.
I have talked to people raising their grandchildren or foster children because the parents are, for whatever reason, unable to. One set of grandparents I know were so tired and so frustrated with their the needs of their grandchildren and not feeling they had the energy to do it, BUT what kept them going was the knowledge that, at that point in the grandchildren’s lives they felt they could do a much better job than any of the alternatives.
The Christmas carols we will soon sing, sometimes with too little thought as to their power and meaning, speak of the dark and weary world, of sin and error and all of that stuff. Jesus came to address those things. Jesus came to eradicate those things. Jesus was and is the “Prince of Peace” after all.
Do we believe it? Even though it may not be here yet, in all its fullness, are we willing to live that way, anyway?
Let us go from here and resolve to be the change we want to see in the world?
Let us come to the feast of the faithful seeking to be fed on our journey of faith.
1995- 2015 The Rev. Beth W. Johnston.
For some good stuff go to:
The United Church has a great online bookstore and here is the link. If you live in Canada they will even send you a book display for your event and people who dont get to see that many books at once can have a ball!