Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wonderful Worship!

What a wonderful morning of worship!  I thought I'd share today's sermon with you.  It's the third in a series based on the Bible Study "The Redemption of Scrooge."  Our scripture references are Deuteronomy 15:7-11, Acts 2:43-47, and Luke 2:8-20.  This is a rough copy, typos, missing words and all.  :)


Presents, Presence, or Both?

We are continuing on with our sermon series on “The Redemption of Scrooge.”  Scrooge has been visited by the ghost of his partner Marley, where he was warned that he needed to change, then he was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past and he began to be transformed as he began to remember his past, his life.  Today Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present.  The present is such a fleeting thing.  The author of our study says more than once, that as soon as we begin to think about the moment we are in, it becomes the past.  Honestly, I had never really thought about it like that.  I guess I always thought of the present as more of the day we are in or maybe even the hour we are in but wow, to think that this moment in time is already over before I can even finish this sentence is almost unfathomable!  I actually think it’s more than we can truly understand.  It is for me!  How do we then truly live in the moment?  As soon as you start it’s gone!   I think I’m going to just take it an hour at a time or maybe even time of day, morning, noon and night at a time.  My family often hears me complaining about how I’ve wasted my time doing nothing... scrolling on facebook, or looking at pinterest (if you don’t know what it is, trust me you don’t want to know!  It’s a time waster though it is also very helpful), reading about what to do instead of actually doing something. Example, at Christmas, and in the time leading up to the season, I spend a lot time looking for ideas of what to make for Christmas gifts, of what to give as gifts and then before I know it Christmas is upon us and I don’t have a single gift ready to give!  My heart has been in the right place but... I’ve squandered my time.  Time... it is fleeting just like the present and what we do with it matters.

Would you please pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen.
Christmas is time of celebrating the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ.  We celebrate this gift by sharing our abundance with others through Christmas gifts and through acts of charity.  But sometimes as our author says, “Our commitment to abundance is misplaced.”  

Have you seen the movie, “A Christmas Story”?  On Christmas morning, the family is gathered around the tree opening presents and the mother suggests that the boy, Ralphie (the main Character) open his gift from his Aunt Clara.  The narrator who is Ralphie all grown up, tells us that, “Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl.”  Then he opens the gift to find a pink bunny costume that his mother immediately makes him put on and come downs stairs for everyone to see.  His father’s reaction was perfect.  “He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny...  He looks like a pink nightmare!”  

Aunt Clara kind of missed the mark on this gift.  It physically fit but it did not fit Ralphie as a person at all!  Ralphie had a hard time being grateful and who can blame him!  

But let’s look at our carol, “A Christmas Carol.”  I’d like go back to the beginning for just a moment if you don’t mind.  When Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, came into the counting house for a visit.  He wishes Scrooge a Merry Christmas to which Scrooge replies, “Merry Christmas... What right have you to be merry?  What reason have you to be merry?  You’re poor enough.”

To which Fred answers, “Come, then, what right have you to be dismal?  What reason have you to be so morose?  You’re rich enough!” 

Here Dickens is showing us that money has little to do with happiness.

Now, the Spirit of Christmas Present comes and leads Scrooge on their journey through the present.  As they begin their journey, they pass over the city.  Dickens writes of the city, “There was nothing very cheerful in the climate or the town, and yet was there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest summer sun might have endeavored to diffuse in vain.”   The Cratchit family is a perfect example of this, so let’s take a look at them.  Bob Cratchit is Scrooge’s clerk and well, you know Scrooge, he’s pretty tight with his money, so as you can imagine, Cratchit isn’t paid all that well.  They are a poor family with very little.  The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to their home so that Scrooge can catch just a glimpse of their life.   As the Ghost and Scrooge arrive at the house, one can’t help but notice how poor they are.  Scrooge looks in to see the Cratchit family preparing their Christmas dinner.  They are joyful as they prepare their simple meal.  They act as if their small goose is something of a rarity.  They laugh, they sing, they smile, they share their joy in what little they have.  They can do this because they know what is truly important, being together, being a family, and being thankful in all things.  Bob Cratchit even gives a toast to Ol’ Mr. Scrooge naming him as the founder of the feast!  His wife objects at first saying that Scrooge is stingy and doesn’t do enough for Bob or appreciate Bob enough but she finally relents because it is Christmas after all and they all toast Scrooge thankfully and joyously.

It is Christmas after all.  Christmas can give us the gift of perspective if we let it.  Let’s consider the first people God chose to receive the good news of Christ’s birth.  There were shepherds, members of a humble and poor community.  Probably not the most eloquent spokespeople for a worldwide movement.  But, as usual, God shows up in the unlikely, pursuing those who he lifts up as important.  One of my favorite pieces in my nativity scene, besides the baby Jesus, is that of a young shepherd boy.  I always smile as I unwrap it.  I think it speaks to me the most because not only was he a lowly shepherd but he was also a boy, a child.  I imagine how he must have felt to be included in this announcement!  To be there to see the angels and to hear their message.  Now, I realize that we don’t really know if there was boy present or not but I love that he’s included in my nativity along with the adult shepherds and wise men.  A boy.  A lowly shepherd boy, of a humble and poor community.  Jesus’ birth turned the world upside down and continues to do so.  He came so that we might discover and share abundant and everlasting life.  Through Jesus, God has reconciled everything, from the depths of the earth to the farthest star in the sky.  So fill your cup with good things this season and share God’s goodness with the world!  That’s what the shepherds did!  The angels came and shared the good news with them.  Then they went and found the baby and shared what they had been told, what they had seen.  They shared the gift they had been given.

So how can we do that this season?  How we share this gift?  What gifts can we bring?  Not just gifts to go under the tree but gifts to offer others a place at our tables and room in our lives, in our church.  God has blessed us all, with the greatest present ever, his presence among us.  Let’s go now and share it with all we meet.

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