Christmas Sunday – A REAL HOPE

HOPE = to cherish a desire with anticipation

  • “with anticipation” — This is key, it assumes that the desired thing is REAL, that it is actually attainable.
  • The powerful thing about hope and anticipation is that they are only powerful and meaningful when the thing you are anticipating is actually REAL.

WHY POVERTY LEADS TO HOPELESSNESS?

Take a look at this article from the Guardian (link) which includes the words of Linda’s personal story as she battles the cycle of hopelessness that was attached to her poverty. For Linda…

  • Rest doesn’t seem to be a REAL option in her world…so why HOPE for it?
  • Good health and the middle-class doesn’t seem like a REAL option in her world…so why HOPE for it?
  • For Linda… Hope seems foolish.

When there is no REAL alternatives, no REAL options, no other REAL futures other than the present…there is no real hope.

At this time of year, the message of HOPE is all around us. We say that the Christmas Story is all about HOPE, but is it really? Is the HOPE of Christmas REAL? Can it be REAL HOPE if we do not believe the story is a REAL story? If we do not believe that the INCARNATION is REAL?

“SERIAL” PODCAST

“Serial” is the #1 Podcast in the world. It’s a story told week by week by journalist, Sarah Koenig, of her quest to find the truth in a 1999 Baltimore murder case in which 17 year old Adnan Syed was convicted of the first degree murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Lee. Take a look at the SERIAL website to take a listen and get familiar.

“Serial” is a true story and it is riveting because is leaves you asking the questions of who is telling the truth and who is lying? It begs the question: Was this conviction of an otherwise standup kid, made in error? It invites us to ask ourselves: what is the REAL story?

This podcast made me think of another, more famous, story in which we have to ask the same questions. And in fact, there was one man who, like Sarah Koenig, retraced the facts of the case and organized them into a coherent account so that we could join him in considering who was telling the truth and who was lying? We know this account as the “Gospel of Luke”… Luke starts his book this way…

Luke 1:1-4“Inasmuch as we have undertaken to compile of the narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the world have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

  • Luke chronicles the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He was on a quest for the truth about Jesus Christ, for the REAL story. 
  • Was the conviction of Jesus (for blasphemy) a valid conviction? Who was lying in his case and who was telling the truth? Jesus or the Jewish officials?

So I began to think: “What if the story of Jesus case was recorded like season of Serial Podcast? Would people take a closer look at his story if it was in a more familiar format? Take a listen to this week’s sermon hear how it might have sounded.

APPLICATION

I (Dave) have read Luke’s full accounting of the facts and I am thoroughly convinced that Jesus was wrongly accused, convicted, and executed. But I am also convicted that his death was not the end of his story. Like Luke tells us, I think the resurrection accounts are legitimate and I think everything we are told about Jesus is REAL. Maybe thats whey the world stops once a year and celebrates his birth.

But, if we assume it is a REAL story, what can I do with this information?

  1. Start acting like the story of Jesus is REAL this Christmas. Don’t pretend it is the same as the story of Santa Claus.
  2. Start acting on this REALIZATION: If God has sent his Son to this world that very first Christmas to bring a REAL solution to the REALEST of problems…then do you imagine that your:
    – Well worded holiday cheer is enough?
    – Temporary aid of a permanent pain is enough?
    – Shiny white smile as you pass by is enough?

NO!! – If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, God has left you in this world for a purpose…and that purpose is to be a REAL help to a REAL someone this week and every week after. “Be Christ this Christmas.”

The incarnation was not a “then thing,” it is a “NOW THING.”

The Bible teaches us that, in a very REAL sense, God continues to be incarnate in this world “through his people — his body — the Church. God’s presence is available to the world through YOU and ME.

  • His Spirit really dwells in you, so don’t hold it back.
  • You are the REAL hands and REAL feet of God, right now in Seattle.
  • You are what is MOST REAL in the world this Christmas, because God dwells inside you.

 

NEXT STEPS

In the power of the Spirit of God, really help someone this Christmas…
In the power of the Spirit of God, really love someone this Christmas…
In the power of the Spirit of God, really talk to someone this Christmas…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s