Characters of Christmas-The Innkeeper-December 15, 2013

Characters of Christmas Series-is a sermon series that I am doing each Sunday in Advent dressed in character done as a dramatic monologue.

The Innkeeper-December 15, 2013

Knock, Knock

I’m Coming, I’m Coming!  Doesn’t anyone know what time it is?  Can I help you?  No we do not have any rooms available.  With this census we are busy all the time with people coming and going.  I can see that your wife is with child, and I’m sorry but it is the middle of the night and I can’t just ask other guests to leave.   Have you tried the place down the street?  Oh, you went there first…I don’t have any rooms…I could at least give you some shelter in our stable.  I know it would not be ideal but it would give you, your wife, and the donkey a place to rest and stay dry and warm.

Here is the place.  This stall is empty right now and should give you a place to rest for the night.  Let me know if you need anything else.  I hope it is not till morning (said under his breath).

Innkeeper goes back to the Inn and tries to back to sleep.   A couple of hours later there is another knock at the door.

Knock! Knock!

Good grief, I’m coming, I’m coming (sounding tired).  Opening the door he sees some rough-looking shepherds standing there.  I’m sorry guys we do not have any more rooms.  You are not looking for a room then why are you knocking on the door of my Inn in the middle of the night?  Who did you say you are looking for?  A king?  There is no king here, a government official or two, but certainly no king I would have known if there was a king here.  I would be the biggest honor for my Inn and there would be people who would come from all around to stay at my Inn where a king had also stayed the night.  Nope, I’m sure of it no king here.

What did you say, he was just born?  No, that couldn’t be?  There was a man and his wife, who were with child and she could have been close to birth.  But that man and woman were just ordinary people.  There wasn’t any entourage.  Are you sure you are not crazy?  Who did you say told you this?  An angel of the Lord, you must be crazy.

Still…I did not have any more rooms in the Inn, just like I told you.  I did give them some space to stay in my stable.  Oh no!  What if the baby was born there, why didn’t I just give them my room?  What if the baby really is a king?  What was that you have come to worship a newborn?  I do what I have to but I only worship in my heart God.  The angel said this was God’s anointed, His very own Son, the long-awaited Messiah, and I let him be born in my barn.  Oh no, God will surely punish me for this one.

I will take you to the stable, maybe this child has not been born yet and I can give him a proper place to be born.  I had no idea she was so close or who was the child that she was carrying.  How could I have possibly known that?

The shepherds and the Innkeeper arrive at the stable to the surprise cries of a young child.  How could this be?  The shepherds are now almost running.  I just let them go ahead of me.  (No stopping) How can I even show my face in there?  If I let a king, God’s own Son, to be born in a barn rather than my Inn how can God forgive me?

How was I to know?  I mean really we generally do not have a full Inn.  Lately though, there have been so many travelers through here with the census going on.  People are having to travel to their hometowns to be counted and all this coming and going has meant a lot of traffic for my little Inn.  We are a family business and the truth is I cannot afford to turn away any paying customers.  We depend on the help of people telling others about our little Inn.

All this extra traffic has been good for business but it also has been wearing our family.  It takes a lot to clean each one of these rooms each night.  My family works so hard.  They listen to the stories of the weary travelers.  My children play with their children while they are here trying to help them feel comfortable.

How could I have missed the biggest thing that has even happened at our Inn?  Actually it has been in our stable.  I should have asked more questions.  I am so ashamed that I did not know who this child would be.  The shepherds are coming back this way.  Maybe I can feel this out a little bit from them?  Did you see the child?  Did the family seem upset that I did not have any room for them in the Inn?  They were actually grateful that I allowed them to stay in my stable.  How can this be a king?  How can his parents be thankful for a barn as a birthplace?  Did they have a name for the child yet?  Jesus!  Jesus?  Yes, Jesus!

Jesus!  Jesus that very name means He will save.  Could this really be the Messiah born in my barn?  If He is the Messiah how can I not go and see Him?  Can he save me?  If He is the Messiah then He can save me, and all of us.  He is here in my stable, why am I standing here?  I will go see Him.  I will worship Him.  There was no room in my Inn, but I can make room in my heart for Him.  Will you do the same?

Does God’s Will Change Our Plans?-December 11, 2013

Does God’s Will Change Our Plans?-December 11, 2013

Matthew 1:18-25

Last week we were talking in our study about how many people spend their time going about life as usual.  Many are not aware that God is here and that at any time He could make Himself visible in a powerful way.  There are many who will be caught unaware of what God is doing in their times and some even in their very lives.  Some will see the presence of God as an interruption to their lives, an inconvenience.  What about us do we see the presence of God as an inconvenience?  The question may not seem like much, but often times God’s plans are not the same as our own and so we live with the question what to do when God changes our plans because they are not His?

This is much the same way that Mary and then later Joseph must have felt.  The young couple was engaged to be married and then God alters their plans with the plans of His own.  First an angel of the Lord tells Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah.  Although this news sounds like a blessing there would be so many people who would think that she is crazy, which could include her fiancée.  She is a willing participant in the will of God in spite of the changes to her plans.  His will took precedence over her plans.  Would we be willing to do the same thing?  Do we want to keep waiting hoping that God will eventually come around to our plans?  Remember He can wait this out longer than we can.

Joseph when finding out his fiancée was pregnant was confused.  How could she do this to Joseph, he loves her?  He had to know if he still took Mary as his wife, others would consider him a fool and would be a lifetime of ridicule.  Mary had never lied to Joseph before but it is unbelievable because it is impossible, isn’t it?  It is already going to be bad enough for her maybe he can break off the engagement quietly and not make this situation any worse.  How much worse could it really get for them?  When Joseph had just about made up his mind, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and confirmed that the child Mary carried was in fact conceived by the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

It is the father that names the child in this time and culture.  The angel tells Joseph that Mary will have the child but Joseph will be the one who will give him the name that will identify God’s purposes for him in this world.  The baby’s name will be Jesus because He will be their Savior.  It was God’s plan from the beginning but as Isaiah testifies a virgin will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel meaning “God with us.”  So many times like Joseph and Mary we go about our lives, getting married, making plans, going about business as usual, but we don’t think that God’s will may change our plans.

Mary and Joseph were faithful to God’s will and not their own plans.  Even though the road ahead may be more difficult, they saw themselves as blessed and God also blessed the world through them.  If we would only be willing to listen, look for, and be faithful to the will of God, then God will bless us and bless the world through us.  Though we will not find ourselves in the same position as Mary and Joseph does not mean that our willingness to submit to His will instead of our plans we can be a blessed people and bless others too.

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel said and married Mary, not having any physical union with her until she gave birth.  He then has the great honor of telling the world what God’s big plans were for this child and giving him the name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.  God spoke to an ordinary man and women going about life as usual until God steps in and changes their plans with His will.  Their willingness to submit to His will made their lives certain more difficult, but also more blessed and through that blessing God blessed the world.  Mary and Joseph said yes.  Will we say yes too?

CHRISTMAS

CHRISTMAS

Thick, heavy white snow falls rapidly outside my window.  It is falling silently like large wads of cotton.  But I am safe inside from the chilling stillness outside my window.  Ah, that comforting, foreboding, drowsy fire in the world of cold uncertainty.  The suffocating heat of the fire is trying to snuff out my light with the power and heat of its flame.  I close my dry heavy eyes and ponder the thoughts of Santa coming to see me and the wonderful toys he would bring.  The cookies and milk are all in place.  I’ll see this jolly old elf yet.  When next I opened my eyes I was in my own bed.  I guess Mother and Father put me there, but none the less wonderful Santa had brought me my heart’s desire.

 

Christmas Chaos-December 4, 2013

Christmas Chaos-December 4, 2013

Matthew 24:36-44

It seems that no matter what time we live in people have generally been the same.  We see our lives are to be lived for ourselves.  Life goes on today just as it has for many thousands of years.  The same problems that people had long ago are essential the same problems with still have today.  We might be tempted to think that after all this time that there would be a better learning curve.

Most do not take time or make time for God and His word in their lives.  People are getting married, visiting with friends, eating, drinking, following our own pursuits with no knowledge of what God has in store.  Whether we might call it chaos or not, our lives are busy and filled with our own pursuits and too often God is not at the top of the list of our priorities.  Look each year at the hype and build up to Thanksgiving and the Advent Season, it has become so commercial that even what is intended to celebrate God now honors our greed.

Our scripture reminds us that it has always been this way and that really only a few will truly listen and honor God.  In the time of Noah, the people dismissed him as crazy and at best some strange religious zealot, after all God has never done anything like this before.  All we really have is this life and what we make of it so let’s live our lives, right?  So we should enjoy life, our own desires, and not be bothered with God.  God was trying to get the people to recognize Him, acknowledge Him, repent, and turn to Him, but they were too busy to notice a giant boat built a good bit in land as a sign of anything but Noah being crazy.  A very physical example dropped into the middle of their busy lives is just not enough and so life goes on and if that crazy guy over there wants to build a boat then that is not my problem.  They continue to live life and stay busy about their business not knowing what God was about to do until the flood waters came.

That’s how it was when Jesus was born.  The government leaders and kings did not know when Jesus was born.  Actually almost no one knew when Jesus was born or who He was.  By contrast today in our world of instant news and social media many people seem to know about a child being born today than ever before.  In Jesus’ time there were no telephones or internet so unless this baby being born was to important parents there was little to note other than for the immediate family.  Even in those days there were signs from the writings of the prophets, appearances of angels, and even in the sky.  The Magi were not Jewish but studied the stars and history and knew that a very special birth was about to happen.  Is it possible that people were too busy, or they just thought God has been silent so long that He had stopped speaking to them?  Immanuel God with us, showed up in flesh and blood in the crazy busy time of a national census.  No kings knew about it, there were no parades to celebrate Him, no room for Him in the Inn, and no real big deal.  In reality it was and is a big deal.  No kings knew but yet the wise men knew to come looking for Him.  No parades yet a few humble shepherds came to honor Him.  No room for Him in the Inn yet there was space in the stable.  It is a really big deal.

When He returns people will still be going about life as usually walking, playing, running, planting gardens, grocery shopping, and many more things we all believe to be important. In that moment things will change we will be swept away in the reality that God is here, He is present, He is among us, and will we be ready for Him?  Will there be room in your heart for Him?  Do you think all the people who want to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas are a little carried away or crazy?  If it means the world sees these as crazy are you willing to be crazy too?  Jesus will come when we least expect, so will we be always looking with expectation to see if Christ is on the way?

Characters of Christmas-Waiting on the Word-Simeon-December 1, 2013

Characters of Christmas Series-is a sermon series that I am doing each Sunday in Advent dressed in character done as a dramatic monologue.

Waiting on the Word-Simeon-December 1, 2013

I have spent all of my life looking for what God was going to do waiting for what the God has in store for His people.  The word of the Lord was rare in those days, but the word was not totally absent.  The word came to the Prophet Isaiah telling of days when our weapons of war would be turned into things like plowshares and pruning hooks.  Things to help promote life not destroy it.  He spoke of how we would know when the time had come.  He said it there would be signs, the weight of the government of will be upon His shoulders and that a virgin would conceive a child and give birth.  There would be new things done by God there would be like streams in the desert, and that God would replace our sorrow with joy.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful that the sorrow of all these years would be turned to joy.  It has been nearly 400 years since the Lord sent us a word or a prophet.  Although the word from the Lord was rare it did exist.  The Lord himself spoke to me although I am not a prophet.  He told me that I would live to see His anointed the Messiah.  Could this be after years of crying out of the people, that God would allow me to see the Messiah?  I could hardly believe so I went back to the writings of prophets and Isaiah lets us know that the Messiah would be born a child.  I can’t imagine why God would want to have the Messiah to be a child in this cruel world.  But after what seems like 400 years of silence the Lord chose to speak through the cries of a baby.

I had almost given up hope for now I am an old man.  But most recently it seems that God is speaking and we should listen or He can quiet us so that we can listen more intently.  A most unusual thing has happened recently, and older couple Zechariah and Elizabeth were found to be with child and the angel of the Lord spoke to Him.  He was amazed and questioned the angel he was unable to speak until the child was born, and they did not name him after his father but named him John.  Just as amazing was Elizabeth’s cousin a very young woman who was engaged to a man named of Joseph was found to be with child.  Joseph knew that this child was not conceived by him and he was deeply bothered but he also loved Mary.  Mary had told him that an angel appeared to her and told her that this child would be the Messiah.  Joseph was still not certain although he had never had any reason to doubt Mary.  Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him also telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife for the child that she carried was truly the Lord’s anointed.

Here they come now with the child the Lord has also fulfilled His word to me, I will get to see His anointed and now I can die in peace.    The hopes and fears of all the years are met in him tonight.  What a wonderful blessing.  I greet them and get to hold the Lord’s anointed the salvation of the world is in my hands, and now after seeing Him He is in my heart and my heart is joyful and sorrowful.  I know how God intends to bring salvation and it will be difficult and it will cost the Messiah his very life.  I bless and celebrate this child but I also feel I must tell His mother what will come in later years will pierce her heart.  The child given to Mary was not just for her but for the world.  “For unto a child is born!”  This is the word we have been waiting on and is now here.  We should celebrate and sing, but we should also tell others as well.  Isaiah also said how beautiful are the feet of those that bring the good news.  This is truly God news salvation is here and He has a name.  The salvation that I held in my hands is now also in my heart.  How about you?  He is here, but is He in your heart?  If so let us celebrate together, and share the long-awaited good news to the world.

Background scriptures:  Isaiah 2:1-5, 7:10-16, 9:2-7, 11:1-10, 35:1-10, 52:7-10; Luke 1; Luke 2:21-40