Hope of Christmas Future: Death-Defying Acts

Scriptures: Revelation 1:4 & Luke 4:18-19

Pastor Clyde’s December 18, 2016 Sermon

Revelation 1:4

(4) John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,

Luke 4:18-19

(18) “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
(19) to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

1. King Duncan tells the story of Clara Null who had been rushing around with her two young grandkids, doing some last minute Christmas shopping.

2. She was getting into the car when four-year-old Jason said, “Grandma, Susie has something in her pocket.”

3. Clara searched her pockets and found a bright red barrette that she had not paid for. Although she was very tired, she knew what she had to do.

4. She took little Susie back into the store, returned the barrette and had her apologize.

5. Then they had to stop at the grocery store for a couple of very last minute items.

6. As they were checking out, the clerk asked Jason if he and his sister had been good little kids so that Santa would come.

7. Jason said, “I have been good, but Susie just robbed a store.”

8. We are continuing our Advent series on “A Christmas Carol” and Ebenezer Scrooge.

9. The last ghost had revealed to Scrooge what was really happening in the present.

10. Scrooge began to soften and appreciate the trials of Bob Cratchit and his family.

11. Scrooge felt some happiness as he watched his friends from the past and heard Tiny Tim’s hardy “God bless us every one” in the present.

12. But now his happiness turns to fear and his journey takes a dark turn as he waits for the Ghost of Yet to Come.

13. We don’t often think of Christmas as a dark time, but scripture points out that darkness seemed to follow Jesus wherever he went.

14. For instance, Jesus was born at night—shepherds watching their flock by night.

15. The magi travel at night, watching the star.

16. Joseph, the father of Jesus, was told in a dream to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod’s persecution.

17. Later, during the ministry of Jesus, he meets with Nicodemus at night.

18. Judas goes to betray Jesus at night.

19. When Jesus is crucified, the day turned into night.

20. Finally, Jesus is raised from the dead while it is still dark.

21. Many of you may have your own stories of darkness at Christmas.

22. There may be illness or death or heartache that is made worse by the season of joy.

23. Scrooge has to follow the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come into the darkness.

24. Scrooge must see the emptiness and darkness that his total devotion to darkness is bringing him.

25. After the resurrection, the angel said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

26. How often do we think that we would be fine if we only had a little more—money, power, popularity.

27. That is looking for the living love of Christ among dead things.

28. There are times that we must face the darkness. We do not linger there but neither do we avoid it.

29. Jesus is the one whose light shines in the darkness.

30. Scrooge comes face to face with his own finitude. He realizes that he will not live forever.

31. He is taken to look at a body shrouded on his bed that was totally abandoned and uncared for.

32. He cannot face it. There are times when we cannot face ourselves.

33. I think of two people I know who have addictions. They have great families and they are extremely talented people.

34. But they have never been able to face the darkness in themselves. The Ghost wanted Scrooge to face his death so that he could what he had become.

35. The Ghost then whisks Scrooge away to the Cratchit house.

36. It is very quiet and he realizes that Tiny Tim has died.

37. Scrooge begins to understand that his actions affect the people around him. He has brought darkness not only to his life but to others.

38. One thing that we might notice is that the Ghost of Christmas yet to Come is silent.

39. He simply points.

40. Silence is uncomfortable, isn’t it? Some people cannot stand to be around silence.

41. There is a story in Luke 14 where the Pharisees are watching him closely at a Sabbath party.

42. A man suffering from abnormal swelling of the body is there and Jesus asks if it is lawful to heal him.

43. They met his question with silence. It is a hostile silence. They want Jesus to do something so they can disagree with him.

44. Maybe you have been in situations where you cannot possibly win.

45. Jesus meets the silence with a miracle; he heals the man.

46. They meet the miracle with silence.

47. Silence sometimes can be the place where we meet God.

48. In this case, they could react to the miracle by saying, “What a man of power! Surely he has God’s blessing. Let’s worship him!”

49. Or they could say, “I can’t believe he did that on a Sabbath. Let’s kill him.”

50. Sometimes our prayers are met with silence. Perhaps the silence is an invitation to go deeper with God.

51. When Scrooge has no answer from the spirit, he is fearful.

52. I am reminded of the story of Samuel in I Samuel 3.

53. There was the idea that God had stopped talking to the people of Israel.

54. Samuel wakens in the night to a voice calling him. Twice he is called and twice he goes to his mentor Eli to see if he is calling.

55. On the third call, Eli tells Samuel that God must be speaking to him.

56. Sometimes we are hardhearted and do not hear the call of God on our lives.

57. If you are hungry for the light of Christ, then go where Christ is. God will be there. If you hear the sound of silence, then good. God is listening.

58. We are close to the end of Scrooge’s journey.

59. When Scrooge sees his grave, he fearfully asks, “Are these the shadows of things that will be or shadows of things that may be only?”

60. Can he change his future?

61. Surely our verse from Revelation tells us that God is “the one who is and who was and who is to come.”

62. God offers hope no matter where we find ourselves.

63. If indeed we are doomed to only reap what we sow, then Scrooge’s story will have a sad ending.

64. But through faith in Christ, our present, our past, and our future are held together in grace.

65. What are we doing in the present that will predict our future?

66. Are we putting faith in the wrong things?

67. Do we listen to God even when all we hear is silence?

68. If we do, then God will give us a hope for the future.