Notes for the Message based on John 1:10-18; “A”–Christmas 2

Readings that I use this week are: Isaiah 60:1-6, 1 Cor 13:11-13; John 1:10-18

 

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV // MSG

 

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One day, when I was five years old, I was given a glimpse of how big our world really is.

My cousin Marina and I were seated at the kitchen table for lunch that our grandmother and my aunt Bella prepared. I remember getting excited about something, and all of you know what happens when I get excited; I start waving my hands. Before long I knocked the drink over and my grandmother asked, “Why did you do that?” I am sure that every grandmother around the globe has asked her grandchildren this question once or twice. Without skipping a bit, I informed my grandmother, my aunt and my four-year-old cousin that this morning I read about Newton’s Laws of Gravity (yes, even when I was five, I was a nerd) and that gravity was responsible for the mishap BECAUSE if there was no gravity, the liquid would simply stay in the glass. Apparently it sounded somewhat humorous coming out of the mouth of a five year old; my aunt laughed so hard that she actually sat on the floor and my grandmother predicted that someday I would be an engineer.

As humorous as it was, it was that day that I understood how big our world is. Before that day I thought that the moon stayed up in the sky because it was nailed to the sky. I even visualized some really big dude with a huge hammer climbing up a really long ladder and nailing the moon to the night sky. To a five year old who was not aware of gravity that explanation – moon does not fall on earth because it is nailed to the sky – was a plausible explanation. The same five year old with a newly formed understanding of the laws of gravity realized that such an explanation was not realistic.

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NIV 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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Today we gather in this sanctuary for the first worship service of 2011. There is something magical about starting a new calendar year. There is a certain sense of excitement and adventure about removing the shrink wrap from a new calendar. It feels as if God has given us a clean slate and we have an opportunity to start over, to have a do-over.

With each year of life and experience that we gain, with every year that we start using a new calendar, we get a better understanding of that God who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

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At one stage of our lives that understanding translates into “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep…”

A little bit later, that understanding translates into “I am a sinner … and Jesus died for me…”

For someone else at a different stage of the journey, that understanding translates into the knowledge that God is with us now and that God will see us through the thick and thin of our lives.

At some point that understanding translates into “God is working through me…”

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The New Year calls us to “arise, [and] shine, [because] your light has come, and the glory of the LORD [is] upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). As we are breaking in new calendars, it is time for our church to gather together as a community and evaluate what it means to us that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” It is time for us to put our heads together and in brotherly love figure out where we are on the journey as a church community. It is time for us to figure out how we should respond to the fact that “we have seen his glory…” (John 1:14).

John wrote, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). Today it is as true as ever, our culture would rather believe in Santa Claus than in Jesus. But we know the truth. We are in the sanctuary because we know the truth. We know the truth because somebody, at some stage of our life’s journey helped us to understand that without Jesus all would be lost.

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I believe that the time is right for our community to come together to embark on a journey of disciplined and focused Bible Study to give the Holy Spirit an additional way to guide our efforts and help us to reach out beyond the walls of this church building to the people who are not part of this community. It is time for us to learn how we can demonstrate the love, grace and presence of our living God among us. Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy:

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All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV).

Many will (and some of you already did) say “I don’t need a Bible Study, I’ve read my Bible many times over at home and there is nothing new that I will learn.” Let’s talk about it.

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Something wonderful happens when a group of people sit around the table with their Bibles open. Something wonderful happens when a group of people sit around the table and respectfully consider what God is doing in the world. Bible study gives God a unique way to reach out to his people, and that means each and every one of us. Each and everyone is blessed.

For some this means peace where there was none. For someone else it may mean a better understanding of how God is working in their lives. For another it may mean the ability to better cope with the life’s challenges. For someone else it may lead to emotional or spiritual healing.

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NIV 1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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While I cannot tell you exactly what will happen in your life when you become a part of study group like that, I can tell you what happened to me.

{Illustration from personal experience}

To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches.

John Chrysostom, A.D. 347-407

Bible Study helps us to experience the robust richness and aroma, the hidden treasures and indescribable riches of our Christian tradition and what we can do to apply our traditions to our lives today.

At present we have four people who have made a commitment to be a part of disciplined and focused weekly Bible study. {Explain Bible Study process} Such a process allows for missing a week once in a while.

I am hopeful that there are at least twelve-fifteen persons in the two churches who would be willing to be a part of such a disciplined Bible Study one night/week.

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As our community embarks on a journey called “2011” God reminds us that God in the person of Jesus is among us; he lives in us. God reminds us that the Holy Spirit of the Lord is among us; He reaches the world through us.

{Transition into the Holy Communion}

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