The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Stayin' Alive"

December 3, 2006
First Sunday of Advent

from Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36

"The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah... In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety." Jeremiah 33:14, 16

My sermon outline:

• Even though my sermon title is "Stayin' Alive", let me just put you at ease and say I'm not gonna dance (although if I meet my Lord today I might just do that, and that’s one of the points... though the return of Jesus is a fearful thing, we who are in Christ anticipate a glorious end to suffering when we are finally united with the kingdom)

After hearing the story of Jonah at Sunday School, a little girl repeated the story at school on Monday.

Her teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because, even though it is a very large mammal, its throat is very small.

The little girl said, "But how can that be? Jonah was swallowed by a whale. "Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human. "It is physically impossible!" she said.

Undaunted, the little girl said, "Well, when I get to heaven I will ask Jonah."

To this, the teacher said, "What if Jonah didn’t go to heaven?"

The little girl replied, "Then YOU can ask him!"

• It seems odd to talk about end times, especially first Sunday of Advent. End times are hyped up by some very popular books and at the same time avoided by many preachers, however the return of Jesus is one of the most basic beliefs we have, and we proclaim it every time we take communion: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. So let’s walk through this.

• v. 25: unmistakable signs. Huge. Day & night. Undescribed, but unmistakable.

• v. 26: ppl will faint from fear, it’ll be so huge. At the same time we need not be afraid: five times in the book of Luke ppl are told “do not be afraid” : zechariah, mary, the shepherds, and twice in chapter 12 when Jesus talks about... suffering and the end. And actually in this passage Jesus tells us to stand up and raise your heads – can’t do that if you’re on the floor, having fainted from fear... reason to believe it’ll be terrifying, sure, but God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power (and love and self-discipline)

• I skipped over v. 27, they will see the Son of Man (SOM) coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 17 words that say sooo much. Luke uses the term SOM 25 times in his gospel (that’s a lot), and half of those are referring to the future coming. Jesus identifies SOM with himself, and is therefore not only tied to the suffering and death of SOM, but with the glorious return of SOM and the fulfillment of prophecy. Coming on a cloud ties this passage to prophecy as well as to Jesus’ ascension in the book of Acts when angels tell the disciples that Jesus would return in the same way as he left. Being SOM in this passage identifies Jesus as the one who was, who is, and who is to come, and that is something to rejoice about.

• in 1789 BFranklin coined the phrase “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” We know that people don’t get out of this world alive, yet the knowledge of unavoidable death can cause different reactions in different people. For people who believe you live and you die and that’s it, then death is the end. You cease to be. So death is to be feared, because it’s all over then. Nothing left but for the memory of your life to fade away. Therefore the goal of life is to pack as much in, to bring yourself glory so that your memory will last longer.

• However for people of faith, there is the knowledge that death is not the end, and in fact that there is glorious life beyond death, thanks be to Jesus. Paul even struggled with whether ’twas better to die now and be with Christ, or to stick around, and bring God more glory with his life. He did not face death with fear but with the confidence that his life was already and eternally in God’s hands.

• So Jesus encourages us to prepare for his coming. (Luke 21:34, 36)

• Tells us to not be distracted by the things of the world, not miss Christmas for all the decorations and preparations, but to pray, to trust, to anticipate and to receive the strength that was promised at his ascension (you will receive power). Do these things and you’ll stay alive. By the promises and actions of God, you’ll live. You’ll be strengthened by your fellowship with other believers. You’ll be kept sharp by your proclamation of the gospel that this life is available to all. You’ll be both cleansed and nourished by that blessed sacrament we celebrate today in Holy Communion.

• Jesus is coming. And it’s a good thing. We’re preparing for his birth even as we are reminded to be continually faithful, praying and trusting and believing in the promises of God.

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: Winter temps are finally here, now where's the snow? 95 in worship, including 9 for a children's sermon! PTL!


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