Tuesday, 25 December 2007

(Not Really) A Sermon for Christmas Eve: What Would Jesus Say?

As I pondered what to say this evening I found myself wondering what Jesus would say to us if He were standing here in my place this evening.

Thanks for coming, I think He would say, I really appreciate you focussing on Me, and what I represent, for a little while. What I offer fills lives with joy and peace.

I'm so glad those of you with children have brought them so they can learn of Me. I am sad that fewer and fewer children have that opportunity these days. Thanks for bringing them and not leaving them to find out about Me by accident somehow.

I know some of you really didn't want to come tonight and that you're here to please someone else. Thanks for being generous and coming for their sake. That's a real Christmas present in itself and probably more meaningful to whoever you're here for than what you've put, or will be putting, under the tree. Your sacrifice to bless them also blesses me. It is an act of love. Loving one another is one of the key principles I came to demonstrate and to pass on to you. I command it, in fact. Keep it up.

I know some of you don't believe I am who the Bible says I am, that all this away-in-a-manger stuff is just legendary mumbo-jumbo. I want you to know I wish you no harm if that is the case. On the contrary, I know there's a ton of noise and interference out there which obscures who I am. The world offers some pretty alluring delights and pleasures that can keep you pre-occupied. Sometimes my church isn't much help, I'm sorry to say. Some of you have even been hurt or abused by church people. I'm truly sorry for that. I'd love for you to give me another chance by spending some time with me so I have the opportunity to heal those hurts.

Just as you yearn to be safe and sound and to celebrate with the people you love and who love you back at Christmas, so I yearn for you to be safe and sound with me. I wish with all My heart that you will come to believe that I Am, indeed, the Son of God. I was born in that stable, I did turn all that water into wine at that wedding in Cana (what a great party that was!), I really did walk on water and heal people and raise Lazarus from the dead (he really did stink by the time I got there!). I really did choose to let them kill me on the cross to set every one of you free from all your sins, every last careless, miserable, sneaky, wicked, stupid one of them. Most important of all, I did rise from the dead so you can, too, one day.

The reason I wish so much that you will come to believe that I Am who I say I Am is because, ultimately, your life depends on it. I'm not going to force you. It's your choice. But I love each one of you and I really don't want any of you to be lost.
You see, I Am the great light Isaiah wrote about. I came to shine in whatever the darkness and shadow of death is. in which you walk, and to increase your joy. I am the child that was born, the son that was given. Despite what you read in the papers and see on television, the government of the world is on My shoulders. I am the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of My government and peace there will be no end. I reign. I am the grace of God that brings salvation. I am the blessed hope, I Am your great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I gave Myself for you, to redeem you (that means to pay the price you owe) from all wickedness (wicked things you've done, what others have done to you) and to purify for Myself a people that are My very own, eager to do what is good and living, rich, meaningful, godly lives full of joy and peace.

My heart's desire is that every one of you here tonight will be My very own because I love you, I want the very best for you and I want you Home for Christmas and for ever. Please believe me and believe in me.

So treasure up all the things you hear tonight and ponder them in your hearts, like my mother, Mary, did when the shepherds came to visit. And when you go home to your trees and presents and goodies and lights and time with your families and friends, go glorifying and praising God by the way you treat one another.

That's what I think Jesus might say if He were standing here in my place.

In a moment we're going to recite the Creed, a statement of what we believe. It will be an opportunity, if we so choose, to say that we believe in Jesus and mean it. Some of us may want to take that opportunity tonight. Before we say it, let's take a moment to think about whether or not that's what we want to do.