There’s only a week to go until Christmas. Does that thought stress you out? Did I just make you wonder if you should skip church this week to get things done before Christmas? Don’t do it!!!! If you are chained to the Christmas treadmill filled with stress, pressure and never ending to-do lists, then worship is exactly the place you need to be this Sunday. Christmas, for you, has become a race to the finish, rather than the reflection on and savoring of a Savior it is meant to be. It’s not too late to make this Christmas different. It’s time to stop and turn your focus on a gift you’ve been given and the re-gifting of that gift to others. I’m referring to the love of Christ.
Jesus came for love. That’s the message the Apostle John wants you to consider,embrace and reflect, even in the most compressed and stress filled periods of life. The love of Christ in you is not only essential to the Christian faith but it is the grounds of your assurance in the Christian faith. John tells us that Jesus came to demonstrate the depth of God’s love to us and to demonstrate how we might share love with others. Love was made known at Christmas. That fruitroll, stocking stuffer or clean house you’re stressing about probably won’t change the world, but the love of Christ is certain to. It just may change your heart this Christmas.
My favorite Christmas song is “Joy to the World.” It’s a simple song but serves as a wonderful reminder of how joyless life in this world would be if Jesus never came. This is why the angel said to the sherpherds, keeping watch over their flocks in the field at night, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Jesus’ coming is good news of “great joy!”
There was a lot joylessness in the days of the prophet Isaiah. Judah had turned away from the Lord. The people of the nation were ungrateful and rebellious. Isaiah prophesied of God’s judgment, but he also told of God’s plan to bring gladness and joy to all peoples, not only those from Judah. The promise of this coming joy would be cherished by God’s people for nearly seven centuries, all the way up until the good news of great joy became a reality in the birth of Jesus. The Gospel (good news) of Jesus still remains a source great joy for all peoples trusting in Him.
Christmas, though, is not a joyful time for everyone. For some, this may be a blue Christmas. I understand. But with Jesus, there is good news of great joy for all peoples. You still may struggle with depression or sadness, but Jesus can and will make a difference when you turn to Him. He came bringing joy to the world. We’ll look at a few ways He does that this Sunday. “Let every heart prepare Him room!”
Is peace on earth possible? That’s the question we’ll be looking at this Sunday, as we continue our Advent series, which focuses on why Jesus came.
In his letter to the young church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul reveals that Jesus came for peace. What kind of peace? Does it mean freedom from wars and conflicts? Does it apply to the Islamic State, the Middle East or the conflict in the Ukraine? What about peace within our own country, like in Ferguson or around our own dinner table? How can Jesus bring peace to these situations? The short answer is “yes.” We’ll examine three statements, Paul makes about Jesus and peace, to learn more about how Jesus came to accomplish it.