Story, Wk. 22–”Christmas in Lent” 03/12/17—Highland—Meute
“The Birth of the King”
The Story, Chapter 22; Isaiah 60: 1-6; John 1: 1-14
Pearl: Our hearts are meant to receive and bear the Christ.
Function: To motivate worshippers to take to heart the gospel seed, to receive it as a gift and to allow it to be born forth as a gift.
“God so loved…the world…that He gave….” (John 3:16).
1. Time and time again, through the Old Testament the Lord pursued union, relationship with his people. He continually sought to make himself known to the nations through a special people, Israel, who were very close to him.
2. In the fullness of God’s timing the Lord did something so unique and so revolutionary…he came into the world he created as one of the creatures of his own creating.
a. The Gospel of John begins by stating that this One who was in the beginning with God and who “spoke” the world into being, and who was God, was Himself born in human flesh (1:14).
b. Many think that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, came into being at birth. In actuality, and this is profound theological concept, the second person of the Trinity always existed but took on human flesh at the birth of Jesus.
i. The Nicene Creed is the result of an ancient council of the church trying to come to grips with this incredible truth.
3. God became a human being…because of his love…because of his commitment to his creation…so that the fracture in the relationship could be restored. God became a human being so that there could be restoration, reconciliation, once and for all.
While God took on human flesh in that humble stable God’s ultimate intent, and his ultimate destination, was to be born in the hearts of every human being. You are meant to receive the Christ as a gift and to then bear him forth.
Up here on the platform you see a wrapped gift sitting upon a bale of straw. This represents the Gift of God, the gospel gift, given out of the deepest deep of God’s reservoir of unconditional love.
God held nothing back. He gave fully of himself for his creation. God is a giver. It is written in the Gospel: “Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). This is what God has done. By being born in human flesh, he fully entered into creation. The great meaning of what God did is that he is therefore able to fully identify with us.
We are meant to receive God into our depths (we say into our hearts) so that we can then bear him forth to others. We are meant to receive the Lord’s gift deep into ourselves so that we live according to his nature bearing witness to his kingdom. That is how we bear him forth.
You hear that we can be “born again” and we can but perhaps it also means that God wants to be “born in and by us.” The powerful song (sung by Kathy Zamostny) has as its refrain, “Be born in me…make my heart your Bethlehem.”
Human hearts are vacant until God takes up residence in them. Human souls are meant to meld with God’s Spirit.
God chose a humble stable in which to be born as the Christ Child. He did not choose the opulence of some palace such as that the great King Solomon lived in. God wants to be born in the precious palace of the human heart—which is actually more majestic than any human structure ever created.
God wants to take up residence in your heart, in your mind, in your very being.
Upon uniting with God through receiving his gift of love you can grow as intended. The gospel seed is meant to take root in human vessels.
i. His kingdom priorities grow within you. One is compassion. Highland Presbyterian Church’s mission is “Sharing Christ’s Love and Growing Disciples.” This mission sprouts from the gospel seed of compassion.
1. Highland’s “Threads of Hope” Clothing Ministry (served 80 people yesterday);
2. Harford Hammers Home Repair ministry (newly reviving);
3. One Great Hour of Sharing which supports Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Self-Development of People;
4. Your great success with the Noisy Offering Projects over the last year;
5. All of Highland’s many mission causes including Porcupine Bible Camp, Hart Heritage Bingo, and so on!
ii. God’s presence in you makes you want to lend a helping hand to someone in need.
iii. The gospel seed in you makes you want to sit with those who are grieving (an overflow crowd sat with the Galbreath family yesterday).
iv. The gospel seed in you drives you to want to befriend the lonely.
The presence of the Lord in you, received as a gift, is passed on to others in both word and deed.
The Apostle Paul referred to the gift of God when he said, “I have received from the Lord what I also handed on to you…” (I Cor. 11:23).
The gift awaits your receiving. The gift awaits your bearing.
Please come forward and take a few pieces of straw from the bale. It will represent your receiving of the gospel gift—remember our Lord was born in a cattle’s stall—with Paul receive what you are also to hand on to others.
The love of God is meant to be “housed” in you. The love of Christ is meant to be borne by you to others. You are the perfect bearers of the gospel seed. There is no more fertile soil for the gospel seed than the human heart.[Pray with me: “Oh Lord, make our hearts your Bethlehem…be born in us, we pray!”]