Advent Week Three: The Often Overlooked Character in the Christmas Story.

All the worlds a stage and all men and women are but players upon it.  This famous quote reminds us that we are all part of a great and unfolding story.  We serve as characters in one another’s stories.  Think of those people who stepped up in your life – that grade school teacher who helped you read or unlock the secrets of algebra.  Think of that co-worker who showed you kindness by helping you un-jam the copier on your first day of work.  Think of that person who mentored you, listened to you or rescued you; can you see their faces right now? 

The greatest story ever told is that of God’s love for mankind and Christmas is part of that story.  The 4 gospels of the New Testament serve to give accounts of Jesus’ life and work.  The gospels give us Jesus’ life from differing angles.  You’ll note that only 2 of the 4 Gospels record the birth of Jesus in any detail.  Mark jumps into the life of Jesus at his baptism and start of His public ministry.  John builds a case for Jesus being the Son of God and incarnate into human history so that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life.  “Believe in Him” – faith placing and resting (trusting) in Jesus.

In the Gospel of John 1: 1 – “In the beginning was the Word…” John presents the preexistent and eternal Son of God using the metaphor “The Word.”  In the Letter 1st John 1:1 writing “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and our hands handled concerning the Word of Life…” John gives us a type of legal deposition attesting what he had experienced of Jesus; the Son of God coming into the world.

John brings home the incarnation of God in human flesh and history when he writes, in John 1: 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father full of grace and truth.”

All of this was so that God could come and personally establish a close relationship with us.

·        God wants to be near us – hear us and love us. 

·        He is not a concept, ideology or religious exercise or even an identification.

·        God wants to have a personal relationship with each of us.

o   He doesn’t mandate a worship relationship

o   He doesn’t mandate a service relationship

o   He doesn’t mandate a devotional relationship.

o   He offers us a love relationship.  This is Christmas – the greatest story ever told.

Who is one of the most overlooked characters in the Christmas story?  Not drummer boy, Grinch, Scrooge – Tiny Tim or Bob Cratchet – it’s you.

In John 17: 13-21 with a focus on verses 20-21 (with inserted comments), “I do not ask (for sanctification) in behalf of these (disciples/followers in front of Him) alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word (Gospels, Letters – New Testament); that they may all (through the ages) be one; even as you Father, are in me and I in You, that they may also be in us that the world may know that you did send Me.”

Here John records Jesus prayer that includes believers down through the ages who came to faith (believing in Jesus) through the written record the disciples/apostles left behind (the New Testament).  Through time the words of Jesus’ prayer call out to us in this generation – He was praying for us.  Suddenly the Christmas story of Jesus’ incarnation and subsequent life of going to the cross becomes intensely personal placing us in the Christmas story.  He came in human form for you and I.  

Have you ever realized what Christmas is saying to you?  God loves you personally.

Depending on where you are this morning I want you to consider one thing…

1.      If you have never trusted or placed your faith in Jesus, His love for you.  I encourage you to do it this morning – take that first step of faith and embrace the relationship God is offering you. 

2.      You’re a Christian; however, you’ve seen Jesus and life with Jesus as something other people experience, I want to encourage you to take a step of faith – embrace the relationship that is waiting for you.  The life of faith, peace, power and fun is waiting for you.  Don’t miss out on it because you’ve had bad experiences.  Don’t miss out on it because you’re not sure. Find out what life in Christ is really all about.

 Join a life group, Day Breaker class – it’s simple sign up via the website or come on a given Sunday – not sure, fill out a connect card with name/number and we’ll help you out.

What if you took that step of faith embracing the love God has for you – imagine how your life might be different?

Dorothy Sayers was a maverick novelist. In 1912, she won a scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford.  She finished with honors in and was among the few women to receive a degree in 1915.  She was good friends with C.S. Lewis and a sometime attender to Oxford’s Inklings gatherings with the likes of J.R.R. Tolken (Lord of the Rings).  She went on to write detective novels and created the character of Lord Peter Wimsey. 

She fell in love with her character and his loneliness that she created a character Harriet Vane.  Harriet was an Oxford Grad and solved murders with Wimsey and eventually marries him and they live happily ever after. Her love moved her to enter into the story that was Wimsley’s life and save him.

God did just this.  He entered the human story – history and through Jesus brings salvation to all who would believe that God loves them this much.  God sent His Son into history and our lives – to be near and save us.   

Don’t miss out.  God wants to be close to you and went to incredible lengths to accomplish this in Jesus.  God offers you new life in Jesus.  Will you step into your place in the greatest story ever told: Christmas?   

Complete Sermon:

Vince Armfield