Third Sunday in Advent
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
December 15, 1996
(NYC Blackout...Billings, MT., even in the daylight there was great confusion. spiritual darkness is worse by far...lies seem true and wrong seems right)
BEWARE THE WORLD'S DECEPTIVE CALL TO WORSHIP AT THE DARK ALTAR OF SELF-CENTEREDNESS.
Many are the cries calling us to kneel at the dark altar of self-centeredness.
Often the cries are cloaked in disguise:
Civil libertarians exalt personal "rights" above God's will and the needs of other.
Free speech advocates use their freedom for a license to sin.
Animal rights advocates cheapen God's special human creation.
Feminists philosophers destroy God-given designs for human relationships.
Right of Privacy defenders use this guise as a pretext for prenatal homicide.
Our own lives often reflect this same, self-centered attitude:
My recreation comes first!
My money is for me
My career takes first priority.
My need for recognition & power is most important.
My need for sexual gratification takes precedence.
My need is to see myself as most important!
The call from the altar of darkness is to serve ourselves, first rather than God...John the Baptist walks into Advent, into this dark world to point the world to the light of Jesus Christ!
INSTEAD OF HEEDING THE CALL OF DARKNESS, WE ARE CALLED BY CHRIST, THE LIGHT, TO ETERAL LIFE.
Trusting Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian faith.
ILLUS: Preacher one Sunday, "What is a Christian?" Shouted the question turned to his mother and asked, "Do you know Mommy? ..."Tell him Momma, tell him!"
A Christian is defined by his trust alone in the life, death and resurrection of the Christ.
No other measuring stick will do.
Other measuring sticks always come up short:
Some trust in themselves to prove through their effort that they are fit for citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
Some trust in what they perceive as the comparative lesser guilt having become convinced that other are worse than they are.
Some trust in their conviction that God will not take their sin seriously and will welcome them any way.
Still others trust that no God exists at all...truly an act of faith.
Without Christ and what He has done as our substitute, there is no salvation.
This is the clear, unequivocal message of the Bible.
Our hope is in the One who was the God/man incarnate.
Our hope is the historical man executed by Rome whose death was payment for our sin.
Our hope is in His resurrection from the dead...Not a symbol, but a historic reality!
Our faith does not create the reality of our teachings, it is the revelation of God in Christ that creates our faith.
SINCE WE HAVE BEEN MADE CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT, LET US WALK IN THE LIGHT!
Our witness of Christ has its power in the Word of God and power gives light.
Not merely an emotional experience of God, but the Holy Spirit's witness to the truth of God's revelation in Word and Sacrament. (Rom. 10:14, 17)
Not just an intellectual, academic faith, but a conversion of TRUST, worked by the Holy Spirit through Word and Baptism.
Our witness to Christ has its credibility in our lifestyle.
Nothing destroys our credibility more than behavior that contradicts our words.
ILLUS: Remember Sadaam Husaine's words, "We will not attack Kuwait."
A Christian witness that is given by a person whose faith is denied by his behavior is worse than no witness at all.
Conversely, nothing reinforces our witness than behavior that reflects Christ.
Our words are affirmed by our actions.
God is glorified by a lifestyle in which love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control are incorporated into daily living.
Our witness to Christ has its motivation in human need and God's love for us.
ILLUS: Read the obituaries in the Pagosa Sun and know that 60 per cent of our neighbors die eternally unless we bring them the message of light and hope that is ours in Christ.
Why try to keep the Gospel a secret?
Darkness brings chaos/confusion, destruction/death. Light brings meaning/order. Knowledge of God comes through Jesus Christ, the light. Let's stop dancing in the dark and bring the delight of the light of Christ to our neighbors and the world. What better way to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord is there?
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