Based On: 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 12-27
Have you ever stopped to think about how marvelous God’s creation is? I am baffled that some people can actually think that all of the wonderful things in this world came about by chance, through evolution. Just watch this! (Take out a pen and hold it in a hand as if to write with it.) Now isn’t that amazing? Do you know what just happened? There are 22 muscles in the hand and they all worked together along with all the bones, ligaments, skin, and other parts of the hand – simply to hold a pen.
It is amazing when you begin to understand how each part of the hand has its own job to do. Each part of the hand is important. Each part of the hand works with all the other parts and when all the parts work together, the hand can do some pretty amazing things.
Based On: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
“Do not be afraid.” That is one of the first things the angel said to the prophet Daniel when the angel appeared to him. And when an angel appeared to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to the shepherds to announce the Savior’s birth, what were the first words those angels spoke? “Do not be afraid.” Why do the angels need to tell people not to be afraid? If the angels were the cute and sometimes baby like little creatures as often depicted, would they really need to say, “Do not be afraid”? No, probably not. Those visited by angels knew these creatures were powerful and holy. A visit from an angel would certainly be cause us to be afraid, but to stand in the presence of the almighty God would be even more terrifying. Not just because he is powerful, but because he is also holy. God knows his appearance in glory would literally scare us to death and therefore instead of coming to us in his glory or sending an angel, the Lord raised up a Prophet from among us to speak his words to us.
Based On: Mark 1:4-11
(In the Gospel we heard about Jesus being baptized by John. For today, we will end up talking more about our baptism than Christ’s baptism, but the two are certainly related.)
Imagine being the subject of one of Christ’s miracles. What would it be like to be blind Bartimaeus when Jesus called for you and gave you your sight? Or what would it be like to be the paralyzed man who needed his friends to carry him wherever he went? What would go through your mind after Jesus tells you to “pick up your mat and walk” and you suddenly find yourself walking out the door carrying the mat that has carried you for so many years? Perhaps it would be just plain cool to be Lazarus as you wake up to find yourself in your own tomb dressed for burial and you hear the voice of Jesus calling you from death back to life. (Actually, you and I will have that very cool experience one day.)
Based On: Hebrews 2:10-18
Have you ever considered how utterly preposterous the Christian religion is? I’m not saying that I don’t believe it. By the grace of God I certainly do believe it, but when you look at the fundamental truth of Christianity, that the creator became one of his creation to save those he created, it is absurd to our human way of thinking. No other religion has anything like it. Of course there are Greek myths that talk about the gods only appearing to be human, but usually not for the benefit of human beings.
Based On: Colossians 3:12-17
Have you ever walked into a house where someone just finished baking bread? Do you remember the smell when the oven door opens and the bread is taken out to cool? It is a delicious smell and no matter where you go in the house, the aroma seems to follow you. The smell fills the house so that no matter where you go in the house you can’t stop thinking about fresh bread.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. In the same way that the aromas from the kitchen permeate the entire house, let the peace of Christ fill your life. First, Paul describes what it looks like to be filled with the peace of Christ, then he explains how we have that peace.
Based On: Hebrews 9:1-9
Have you had a chance to look into the manger? I don’t mean the manger in our chancel. I’m talking about the manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. In a figurative way have you looked into that manger this Christmas season and considered who it is you see there?
There in that feeding trough you see a baby – a small, fragile, weak infant who needs someone else to take care of him. Just like any other baby he doesn’t look like a threat to anyone. In fact, have you ever come across a baby who you thought might hurt you? No, I didn’t think so. Perhaps that is why this world is much more willing to celebrate Christmas than Easter. Jesus as a little baby is not very threatening to anyone, but a Jesus who dies and comes back to life is someone with power – someone you better pay attention to.
Based On: Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11
I was poor. I was completely and utterly destitute. I had nothing – not even hope. You couldn’t tell by looking at me but it was true – I was poor. I was longing for some good news – just a little bit of hope. You were poor too. You were in exactly the same condition I was – poor and destitute.
God told me, “You must love me perfectly. Every single moment of every single day I should be the most important thing in your life. You must serve me in everything you do. This is what you must do to be holy – and you must be holy because I am holy. Anything less will be justly punished.” He tells you that too. I knew I had failed already. The burden of this command made my knees buckle and back give out. It made my heart break. I had no hope, only hell because I couldn’t pay the price. I was poor. So were you.
Based on: Mark 1:1-8
Someday, off in the future, it just might happen that the President of the United States comes to Sleepy Eye. I don’t know who the President will be when that happens, but you can be sure that if and when it does happen, someone will come ahead of him to make sure everything is ready.
This person will need to prepare the town of Sleepy Eye for the arrival of the President. He will make sure the road is suitable for the President to travel on. He will make sure people will show up to listen to the President when he stops to speak. Of course he will also make sure everything is safe for the President so that no one is able to hurt the President.
Based on: Mark 13:32-37
Did you ever wonder just how the wise men from the east knew to watch for the savior? How did they know when they saw that special star in the sky that the “King of the Jews” had been born? Some suggest the prophet Daniel, an exile in Babylon, told the wise men of Babylon about the promised Savior more than 500 years before Christ was born.
Based on: Philippians 4:10-20
First, I need to explain the theme printed in the bulletin, “It is good to be content . . . with friends.” I do not mean to say that with you need to be content with the friends you have even if they are a little less than desirable. No, what I mean is that we can be content no matter what we have and while we are content God gives us our fellow Christians with whom we can enjoy our contentedness.