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Presence of Christ December 13, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Isaiah 40:6-9

Advent 3

December 13, 2015

 

Focus:  God is with us.

Function:  That the hearers.

Structure:  Pre-written Sermon Series, “Comfort and Joy” by Tim Klinkenberg, Drew Gerdes, and Michael Hoy via Creative Communications.

 

Presence of Christ

 

One of the many blessings of the Christmas season is gathering together with family and friends. White elephant gift exchanges at office or school parties is an event that brings laughter and joy and brings people together. One gathering that brings grins and chuckles is a tacky Christmas sweater party. People go through garage sales and thrift stores to find the tackiest and most ridiculous Christmas sweaters they can. Prizes are given, joy is shared and most people have a good time.

Gathering in our church for worship on Christmas Eve is always a marvelous experience.  The sanctuary is dimmed and the warmth of the candlelight fills the space. We gather with the family of faith. We know the hymns “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” We see people we haven’t seen for a while and we have our hearts filled with the presence of Christ.

Yet sometimes it feels like God is absent. It must have seemed that way for Isaiah. It was a long time since God was present with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It had been a long time since God had sat face to face with Moses on Mount Sinai. Even King David’s dynasty had come and gone. God’s people were now assimilated into their country of exile, losing their distinction and following a God that now only speaks to them through prophets. It seemed God had become silent and His presence was no more among His people.

We wrestle with the same issue in our lives. Sometimes it seems God is silent. We would love for Him to sit with us in a room and lay out in a PowerPoint presentation the decisions we need to make for tomorrow, and the next day, and every day for the rest of our lives. How should we handle the treatments? How should we handle this conflict? Should we take a new job?  How do we reconcile our relationships? When will I feel loved again? Why am I so lonely? So many times we would love for God to sit with us like He did with Abraham and Moses, but that doesn’t seem to happen.

Isaiah prophesies that we will behold our God! John says it this way: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling with us” (John 1:14). God is present with His people. God is present with us. He comes to be present the same way we all were. He was born of His mother Mary. He was wrapped in cloths. He was laid in a manger. He is the Messiah who was born to be with His people. He is present with us.

Our Christ is not an angry father coming home to punish His children. Rather, He comes to be God’s gracious presence among us. He came to be present in preaching, teaching, and healing among the people. He came to be present at the cross as the sacrifice for our sins. He came to rise to new life and be present with His disciples on a shore, eating breakfast and loving them. He was truly present in every way.

His presence is with us now. The Spirit of the living Christ is among us in our church. He gathers us around the baptismal font and with the water and the Word He delivers forgiveness and new life. He is present. He gathers us around the altar to receive the Lord’s Supper. He is present to forgive sins and speak words of grace to us. God is with us.

He is present with us now in His Word. The words of Isaiah speak to us. The words of John speak to us. The words of Jesus speak to us and they remind us of a present truth. God is with us in His Son Jesus. Jesus’ words speak a present word of grace to us. God is with us in His Word to instruct us. God is with us. His word is His presence among us still.

Advent is a season of great anticipation. Brightly wrapped gifts provide anticipation for children. They shake, they tear, they stay awake wide-eyed at night wondering what the gift will be. Part of the joy of Christmas is the purchasing of gifts and knowing that little hearts beat faster as gifts are gathered under the tree. Anticipation and waiting are both great blessings this time of the year.

As Christians, we live in anticipation. The present Lord will return. While we don’t have a clue when He will come back, He has sealed His promise in the blood of His Son Jesus. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He was present in creation, He was the baby lying in a manger, and He is the one who will return and take us to heaven to be with Him in eternity. A present truth and a present reality and a future hope! Amen.

 

 

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