Sermon for First Sunday After Christmas

There are times in our lives when something happens, an event or a situation that results in our lives changing forever. It can be a good event, a happy event, or a bad event, or it is just part of the process of life but whenever it happens life is never going to be the same again – Everything Changes. Have you notice those times? Have you had those moments when you have thought – “My gosh – nothing will be the same ever again.”

These moments happen regularly during our life even when we do not recognize them. Going to Kindergarten for the first time means life is never the same again. When we go to middle school, then high school, then college our life changes forever.

When we get our first job, when we get married, when we have our first child, when our children leave home, when we retire, when we lose a parent or a child are all examples of when everything changes forever and life is never the same again.

One of the most vivid times that I had that feeling was when Sam, our oldest child, was just a few days old. Kitty and I had been married 14 years before Sam was born. And I remember sitting on the floor of the living room at 4am, holding a dirty diaper thinking “My life, our life will never be the same again.”

Of course there are times when our life changes because of an unexpected tragedy or accident. Joni Erikson Tarda was 19 years old when a diving accident left her a quadriplegic and her life changed forever, although today, despite her disability she is a powerful Christian teacher. Christopher Reeve, if you remember, went riding one day, fell off his horse, and was paralyzed from the neck down. Everyday thousands are diagnosed with diseases and illness, are in accidents which will change their life forever

This even happens on a national and global level. The First World War changed the world forever – the Second World War changed the world forever – 9/11 changed America forever.

And it happens on a spiritual level too. Everything changed – nothing was the same again for the whole universe when Jesus became a baby – when God was born as a human being. Everything changed in the heavenly world and in the earth forever.

Revelation says that the lamb was slain before the creation of the world. God’s plan to rescue us, determined before creation, was being put into operation. God enters his creation to take back what Satan had laid hold of – the bondage of sin, the reign of the devil – the separation of God and humanity was all going to change.

All the Old Testament, the sacrifices, the rituals, the law and the prophets had been pointing towards this time – this event – to the gospel, the good news begin announced to the world.

The other gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke start their accounts at the beginning of Jesus’ life or with John the Baptists ministry – but the Gospel of John is different. As we have heard read this morning John begins his gospel way before that. He goes back to the beginning of the history of time.

John’s gospel starts as Genesis starts – in the beginning. The Word was at the creation of the universe – and the Word was with God – which means the Word and God are separate and yet John says, the WORD was God.

All things were created through him – in him was LIFE – all life is sustained, upheld by God, by the Word.
Colossians 1 says:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him—all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him.
He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.
He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son
and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross—through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

It is this WORD – the one who is LIFE itself – the one who sustains and upholds all creation – this Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. God steps into his own creation.

John’s point in beginning his account of Jesus’ life at the beginning of creation was to make sure people understood that from the very beginning, from within the Trinity the gospel was conceived and executed.

For every human being , God becoming flesh and dwelling amongst us, Jesus’ birth into this world, changed everything for all humanity, for all of eternity.

Isaiah knew that everything would change. Our reading from Isaiah 61 shows what happens when God comes – rejoicing, deliverance, vindication, praise. When God shows up, things change.

Our reading from Galatians also make sthis point. Before Christ we were under the law. But when Christ came everything changed – we are no longer under law but declared righteous by faith in Christ – adopted as sons with full rights! Thus we can call God ABBA Father.

The season of Advent and Christmas is a declaration that because the God of the universe became flesh and dwelt amongst us nothing will ever be the same again.

Sadly, in the midst of our commercialization of Christmas too many believers have missed this point.

If we miss this we miss the whole point of Christmas. If we as Christians have not noticed that everything has changed, not just in the spiritual and physical worlds, but in our own lives – if we do not have that realization that nothing will ever be the same because God revealed himself to humanity then we are missing out on one of the most incredible blessings we have as followers of Jesus Christ.

It is to miss out on the incredible joy of knowing that God has won – he has won – he has the victory. He has rescued us, and the creation from eternal darkness and death and has given us the light of his life.

History, the universe, humanity are on a path to a destination – a destination that results in God returning in power to the earth to complete what he began with his birth and death.

Have you noticed that everything has changed – that nothing will ever be the same again?

You see, it is only when we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ that we realize that nothing will be the same. It is only then that we will have the spiritual eyes to realize the magnitude of what God has done both in the heavenly realm, in the earth and in our own lives.

We see a small glimpse of this in the wonderful story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6. The king of Aram had surrounded the city of Dothan in order to kill Elisha. Elisha’s servant goes out and sees this great army and panics. “Oh Lord what shall we do?”

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

At that moment everything changed for the servant – he saw the heavenly army protecting Elisha.

As a Christian our lives have changed forever – everything has changed – our destiny has changed from death to eternal life – our present has changed, as we realize that God has a calling and purpose for our lives today – our allegiance has changed, as we are no longer working for ourselves and our purposes, but for the kingdom of God and His purposes – our citizenship has changed, because we have been adopted by God as his children and so our home is now in God’s kingdom.

Just think about what it means to be called a child of God. Just think for a minute of the image of a good parent / children relationship, how a parent feels about their child? What they would do for them? Think about a parent’s care for their child, their nurture of them, their protection of them and their love of them.

This is what God promises to do with us. He loves us – he nurtures us – he helps us to learn and grow – he gives us good things – the things we need – he is with us even through the difficult times and he guarantees us an inheritance – to be with him forever.

It means that God gets involved with our lives.

How should we respond to this? Isaiah 61 v10 says– I will greatly rejoice in the Lord my soul shall exult in my God

Are we rejoicing in the Lord this morning in light of what we celebrated last week? Are we exulting the Lord our God because we know that Jesus Christ’s arrival as a human being changed everything forever?

Praise and thanksgiving are the natural response to God’s grace, especially grace that has been personally received and experienced.

Too many Christians lack praise, thanksgiving and joy because they do not understand nor have grasped the magnitude of God’s work – that everything has changed forever – he has won. His victory has been accomplished and the victory began when he was born into this world – when God became flesh and dwelt amongst us.

Isaiah 61 also says that HE has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness…

This is a description of every Christian – of every believer in Christ – clothed with the garment of salvation, rescued from sin – set free from death and in Christ given a robe of righteousness.

Are we not moved this morning to praise our wonderful King and God. – to want to shout aloud – to declare the awesomeness of God? Isaiah saw this. In chp 61 He saw that one day God will restore the whole world and the creation – after these visions he knew nothing would be the same again – that everything was going to change.

And yet in the face of the fact that what God has done has changed everything forever, we so often remain placid.

Imagine what would happen if Joni Erikson Tarad suddenly had the use of her body again? If she were set free from the constraints of her paralysis? What would happen when someone discovered that they were cancer free, or that the years of being unemployed would now end with the offer of a great job which meant security – what would happen. Great rejoicing and weeping and happiness and thankfulness.

Every Christmas should be a huge and awesome celebration – we should, as the church, put on the most splendid of parties. We should be delirious with joy and happiness – not because we have eaten too much or drunk too much or because we have expensive gifts – but because we celebrate the time when everything in the whole universe changed forever – God became flesh and dwelt amongst us declaring the victory of God over sin and death so that we might never be the same again.