Remembrance of Christmas Past: Hope from Heartbreak

Scriptures: Isaiah 9: 2, 6 & Luke 2: 8-14

Pastor Clyde’s December 4, 2016 Sermon

Isaiah 9: 2, 6

(2) The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

(6) For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Luke 2: 8-14

(8) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (9) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (10) But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (11) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (12) This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

(13) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

(14) “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

1. Did you hear about the church that had the bad experience of having a bar opened next to them.

2. It was a very rowdy place and it disturbed the church constantly.

3. Finally, the pastor called a prayer meeting. They prayed all day and into the night that God would do something about the bar.

4. Late that night, the bar caught fire and burned to the ground.

5. The owner was furious. He took the church to court and argued that their prayer had caused the fire.

6. The church’s attorney argued that it was a coincidence while the bar’s lawyer argued that it was the prayer that did it.

7. The judge listened for a while and went to make his decision. He came back and said, “Before I render my decision I have to say that I find it odd that the owners of the bar believe more in the power of prayer than the people of the church.

8. Today we continue our study of “A Christmas Carol” which is about Ebenezer Scrooge.

9. The first ghost to visit Scrooge is the Ghost of Christmas Past.

10. Ah! The past is such a small word for everything that has happened up until this very moment.

11. William Faulkner said that “the past is not dead. It is not even past.”

12. He was commenting on the fact that we are created by our past and it remains a part of us.

13. We must remember that the past may not even be as we remember it.

14. I think about the times when my brother and I get together. He tells all the old stories and then I have to correct them.

15. No matter what we may think today, we are entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts.

16. There are some things that actually have happened and some things have not.

17. When Scrooge goes back into his past, he discovers pain and joy.

18. What is your earliest memory? I have memories of being on my grandfather’s farm and they have to be early.

19. He died when I was about 6.

20. The past can be tricky in many ways. Sometimes we assume that something should be done or interpreted in a certain way because of what happened in the past.

21. Many times those assumptions may be helpful but they can also lead us into the trap of making the same mistakes over and over again.

22. We assume that all blacks are evil or that you cannot trust anyone because of what you experienced—maybe—in the past.

23. Advent represents a time of hope that things can change.

24. What are your earliest Christmas memories?

25. I remember getting up about ten times during the night to sneak in to see what Santa had brought—in the dark!

26. We always had a big family meal on Christmas Eve. I remember the home-made coconut cakes.

27. We have those kinds of memories, but have you ever had an experience that changed Christmas for you?

28. I remember my nephew, Charlie, dying on Christmas Eve. He was only 38 and left behind three little girls.

29. Sometimes we lose loved ones or we break up with someone we love.

30. We can have our whole experience of Christmas changed.

31. Scrooge has obviously forgotten his own story. He is always bitter and angry now.

32. But the journey with the ghost reveals that joy marked some of his childhood.

33. What unlocks joy for you during Christmas?

34. As Scrooge goes back in time, he unfortunately cannot interact with that joy.

35. Maybe you have something that keeps you from that joy right now.

36. Today we will take communion. It is a reminder that Christ did not come to save us from ever enduring pain.

37. He came to be with us in our brokenness and to heal us so that we might experience joy again.

38. Again, we must think about the fact that our memories are not always accurate; they may be incomplete or misleading.

39. No matter what our past is, Jesus comes to love us anyway and invite us to his table.

40. Although Scrooge sees joy in his past, he also sees loneliness. He does not have a lot of friends and his family can be distant and cold.

41. When he sees this loneliness, he does not react with anger but with compassion. He remembers a caroler who had sung for him and wishes he had been nicer.

42. What do you see when you look in your mirror of the past?

43. You do not have to be perfect; we all have our problems.

44. Jesus loves us anyway. God sees what we can do and not what we have done.

45. Scrooge begins to see that his bitterness has removed any joy that he might have.

46. He is not walking the path of a follower of Jesus.

47. One thing that we can agree on is that Christmas is a time for the senses.

48. We hear Christmas carols; we see all the decorations and the Advent wreath.

49. We touch all the symbols and the nativity scenes.

50. We smell the food and it all has a special meaning for us.

51. Everything changed when Jesus came into the world and our senses help confirm that.

52. One of the most fundamental parts of Christmas is the music.

53. Music is fundamental to our existence.

54. Scrooge remembers his employer, Fezziwig, who gave a simple party.

55. Even though it did not cost much, it brought great joy and Fezziwig danced.

56. Scrooge begins to understand that a cheap dance is worth more than money at times.

57. Think about this one for a while: what do your hands touch most often at Christmas?

58. Do we spend more time touching plastic credit cards or holding the hands of those who need it?

59. I will close with the idea that the real miracle of Christmas is that Jesus, the Son of God, came in the flesh.

60. He came in real human form.

61. He had real parents who could not have been any more perfect than other human parents.

62. The Incarnation of Jesus is the essence of our faith.

63. Think about it: God had to trust humanity in order to save it.

64. We have to trust God in order to be saved.

65. Joy is the steadfast assurance of god with us.

66. What keeps you from accepting God’s gift of joy?

67. Communion with anointing with oil.