December 13, 2015
Text: Zephaniah 3:14-20
What Should We Do?Christmas is coming way too fast. I don’t know about you- but I’m not ready. If you are a listwriter like me, it seems there are still more things on the- to do list than time to do them. Whenwe say: “getting ready for Christmas” we almost always mean – getting ready for the holidays.But the message that John the Baptist talked about however, was an entirely different thing.Getting ready for the holidays is one thing- but getting ready to meet God with us is quiteanother. What are we going to do? What should we do? PrayThose of us who have children- remember back to when they were born. Janie and I have beenblessed with three wonderful children and 6 precious grandchildren. I remember when we foundout we were going to be parents for the first time. It was a game changer. All of a sudden, thecenter of our life was a person we hadn’t met yet- but already loved. Wow! We’re going to have ababy! I thought- that was soon followed by a deep sense of responsibility- then uncontainableexcitement- and then the reality of: “I’ve got to get ready- what should I do?”Angie was born during a thunderstorm in August. Then along came Josh- on a 20 below winterday in December. More excitement- more questions- what should I do? And then came Amy. Shewas scheduled to be born C-section the first part of October. My days were busy getting readyfor harvest before the due date so that I could focus on our expected new arrival.Then I got a call from Janie who had gone to a scheduled doctor’s appointment. She said: “we’rehaving a baby!” I said “I know!” She said: “I mean in a couple of hours! Our little girl cannotwait to meet us. Pack some things for me and meet me at the hospital!” I was not ready-I had somany things on my list to do yet- and yet I was more than ready.As you read the Christmas story- what goes through your mind? It probably depends on your ageand what you are going through at the moment. Hearing the Christmas story as a child for mebrought with it all the traditions and decorations and lights and getting together with family forthe Christmas season- and expectations of things too wonderful to imagine- memories I still holddear to this day. Life was simpler back then- there was really nothing for a child to do to getready- except dream dreams and wait impatiently for the day to arrive.As a teenager- Christmas still brought with it all those things- but with it came a deeperunderstanding of God’s love for me and wondering what future Christmases would be like. Iremember college as a time I began asking myself the question: “What should I do?” on a deeperlevel.As a father- hearing the Christmas story made me wonder what it must have been like for Josephand all he must have gone through as he prepared to welcome God’s son into the world as he was
given the responsibility to take care of and raise God’s son! Imagine that. I’m sure both he andMary must have asked each other many times: “what are we going to do?- what should we do?”And in those years when my parents were going through health issues and I had finished chemoand radiation- the message of Christmas shone even brighter. A savior has been born- Immanuel-God with us! We don’t have to go through life alone- God’s strength and peace and hope hascome to us – and His name shall be called wonderful- prince of peace- almighty God.What must it have been like for God the Father- to send his son to us- from the purity andholiness of heaven to a world dark in sin- on a mission to rescue us from certain death.Christmas isn’t about us- but it is for us. It is about God’s love made known to us through Hisson- Jesus Christ. It isn’t us who are preparing for the birth of Jesus as much as it is Jesuscoming to prepare a way for us. It is about Jesus coming to invite us into His family more than itis us welcoming Him into ours.God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for us to meet him. He wasn’t talking about a babyin a manger- by now Jesus was a grown man- about to begin his ministry-to walk where othersfear- yet inviting us to follow in His wake. John’s message- his cry in the wilderness was toprepare to meet the holiness and power of God come to save.How do we prepare to meet someone who will die in our place- for you? It would be humbling toknow that wouldn’t it? How do you prepare to meet your creator, redeemer? John came to tell usin no uncertain way- repent. What is at the center of repentance? It is turning our eyes and willsand lives to Jesus- putting things in perspective- seeing God as who he is- not how we want himto be- seeing ourselves as God sees us- sinners in need of saving- and yet the amazing grace ofhis love-that we are his beloved son and daughter worth dying for. Repentance is humblingourselves before a mighty God.People came- heard the message- were convicted of their sins and willingly came to be baptizedin the river Jordon. But it wasn’t just an emotional experience- it was a life changingcommitment. Repentance by definition changes a person’s direction in life-what was importantbefore now fades in importance- and they wanted to know what to do and they came to John toask him.John had a ready answer. Humble yourselves before God and man. To some he said- if you havetwo coats and know of someone who has none- give one to him. If you see someone hungry andyou have more than enough yourself- give him food. To others he told to live an honorable life-all seemingly different advice- yet all motivated by the same message: Be a servant of all. Paulwould later write: “do everything as serving the Lord.”Jesus was born a servant king- coming not to be served- but to serve. He humbled himself –stepped down from heaven to earth- born as one of us- for us- and humbled himself unto death –even death on the cross.
What should we do? Repent. Bow down before him and worship Christ the King. And followJesus- be his hands and feet-and his heart to a world who need to know of His love. Oh come letus adore Him. Amen.