Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Reality that Must Flavor Every Fiber of True Christmas Festivity

My Confession Exhortation from last Sunday (Dec 12):

Saints of God, what day is this? 
(Congregation) It is the Lord’s Day! 

Why is it the Lord’s Day? 
(Congregation) Because Christ rose from the dead on this day! 

What kind of day is it? 
(Congregation) It is a gift that is glorious and joyful! 

This is advent or Christmas season: a time which, as we will see in the kids’ play this morning, we focus on the birth of Jesus. However, we must remembering that beginnings mean very little if there is no proper ending. There needs to be a fitting finish. This day is the Lord’s Day because God always finishes what He begins. It is the Lord’s day because Jesus, the baby born in the maternity barn; the one who shared his newborn moments with cattle and goats and smelly shepherds, because Jesus lived, obeyed perfectly His father, died on the cross conquering the dragon-Satan, and rose from the dead in three days. He is King and He will never surrender His title…world without end. This reality must flavor every fiber of our Christmas festivity and manger remembrance! We know the end from the beginning because the Author has let us in on this one…baby Jesus is now King! That old Serpent, Satan, has been defanged! We the Church are a new creation by the Holy Spirit; we are a new people from the seed of the woman who were rescued by that great dragon-slayer (namely, Jesus) and the gates of hell will not prevail against us! This is glorious, this is joyful and the best is yet to come!

Do we believe this? Rather, do we live, think, sing, pray, hope, give, and talk as though this is a reality? This should remind us of our need to confess our sins and look to Christ.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

God Wired Us to Party With a Vengeance

My confession exhortation from this past Sunday:

I think it’s fair to say, as far as our culture is concerned that we are now into the “Christmas season” in full force. Sadly this does not mean our nation’s attention is reverently and joyfully focused on the birth of the Christ, the King of the world. Stores are packed with consumers, and online shopping is ripe with sweet deals and free shipping. All around us we see lights and icicles; Santa and scented candles; reindeer and wise men; candy canes and silver bells; snow men and nativities; Bing Crosby and Shrek Christmas; blockbuster movie openings and constant jingle bell commercials; carols and endless cookies, Handel’s Messiah and It’s a Wonderful Life: as Johnny Matthis reminds us annually – “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Now I am not here to pull a Grinch or Scrooge on you (or to use biblical terms – a “Pharisee” on you) because this season IS the birthday month of King Jesus. Festiveness is in order and I don’t mean the kind that constantly grumbles about silly decorations, materialism, traditions, gluttony and family get-togethers. God wired us to party and to party with a vengeance. Decorations, traditions, get-togethers, gifts, special songs, trees, lights, feasts, partying and much, much more can and probably should fit into a proper Christmas celebration--yet the question of WHY must always be at the forefront of our minds. When we’re asked “What’s this all about?” Do we clear our voices and sheepishly say—“mmmmm. Oh yah, Jesus, I guess” as though we had a brain freeze? Or does our celebrating find its beginning, middle and end with the radical and world-changing reality of Christ becoming man for our salvation and the worlds’?

We should sing till our voices are raw, because our hearts demand the release of joy in God! We should give in loving, wise and sacrificial ways to show off the one who gave His all for us! We should feast with full vigor while reminding our kids and others that all this is blood-bought by the one who was born in a Manger! By all means, put Chevy Chase to shame in your decorations—but for a much different reason. Embrace Christmas traditions, honor your family in get-togethers, be patient and kind to those who miss the point—but by all means – DON’T MISS THE POINT. I mean JESUS. We are His disciples, and as His disciples, we have more reason than anyone to enjoy the month that remembers His birth.