Sunday, 24 December 2006

Carrying Jesus: a Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Advent with Reference to Micah 5.2-5a, Hebrews 10.5-10 and Luke 1.39-45 in the NIV

First I want to commend you all for being here this morning—for avoiding the temptation to skip the 4th Sunday of Advent and fast-forward to Christmas Eve. Good for you. It warms my heart to see you here because your presence says something about the state of your faith—you must be really spiritual, or perhaps it says you don't have a life or you’re here out grim duty. Sigh.

Either way, it’s good to see you.

Mary was carrying Jesus in her body when she went to visit Elizabeth. We carry Jesus in this church body, too—like Mary, we are called to bring him to birth in our families, our workplaces, among our friends and in our world.

How do we do that?
    1. Don’t terminate the pregnancy: we might be tempted to have a spiritual abortion because of the inconvenience of it or out of fear or because we have no relationship with the father.

    2. Eat well: holy communion and the Word of God are important food groups for us

    3. Exercise: spiritual weight-bearing exercise…sacrificial acts of kindness just because of Jesus. Worship, pray, read your Bible, tithing and offering.

    4. Go to pre-natal classes—learn all you can: The Alpha Course, Bible studies and the small groups we're starting in 2007 are good pre-natal classes.

    5. Rest

    6. There will be discomforts, stretchmarks and inconveniences: endure them with the Lord’s help. “We rejoice in our sufferings,” writes Paul, “knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Rom 5.3-4)

    7. Don’t smoke, get drunk or do drugs: avoid the spiritual equivalents. Don’t do things we know will harm the message we carry.

    8. Find a safe place for the delivery: the safest place is within a friendship and in a good church where there are people who can help if there is any trouble.

    9. Prepare the nursery: the best place in which new faith will grow up is within good friendships and a good church community. Build the relationship, spend time with the people among which you’d like to see Jesus born…decorate the space with your friendship and love.

    10. And then, go with it, as women are encouraged to do in labour; not to fight it, but to let nature take its course.
We are the body the Father prepared for Jesus. His church. It is written about us in the scroll. We are here to do God’s will.

Then, you and I, my brothers and sisters of St Barnabas Anglican Church, Medicine Hat, though we may be small, like Bethlehem, especially when compared with the mega-churches of this age, out of us will come the one who will ultimately rule over Medicine Hat, our country and this world, whose origins are from of old, from Ancient times. Jesus. He will stand and shepherd his flock—including us—in the strength and majesty of the LORD, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, his God and ours. And we will live securely, for then the greatness of Jesus will reach to the ends of the earth and Jesus will be our peace.

But why are we so favoured, that the Father of our LORD should come to us and entrust us with such a gift and a message? What if God loves us? Perhaps he just wants to work alongside him? Perhaps he thinks we can do it.

I think you can, too. Blessed may you be among churches, and blessed is the one you will bear. Blessed are those who believe that what the LORD has said to them can, and will, be accomplished.

Tonight we celebrate his birth! At 630 (contemporary for the kids) and 11 (vintage prayer book). O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!