December 27, 2020: 1st Sunday after Christmas

Let us pray:  Lord, it’s been a hard year.  And yet Christmas came, Your birth was still celebrated, and Your joy came down to each of us.  Enable us to keep all that in mind as we approach a new year.  And come what may, empower all of us to live, act, speak, think, and be good Christians in every way possible.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE CHRISTMAS GIFT THAT ALWAYS KEEPS ON GIVING!

TEXT:  Colossians 3: 12-17

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Surly shoppers.  Worn-down workers.  Impatient people.  It’s almost like a negative prophecy, an antithetical to Isaiah’s words which would go like this: “People walking in fear have seen only darkness, among those living amid Covid, frustration has descended.”  And yet, our Savior was still born.  His love shines down upon us this Christmas.  In the words of the great Paul Speratus’ hymn: “Salvation unto us has come, by God’s free grace and favor.” 

          Today’s lesson is a practical application of how to live and survive during the last of 2020 and beyond.  It’s a lesson in how to avoid being over-loaded and burdened by the social degradation we have all endured and are enduring.  It’s a way to hold our heads up in joy, gratitude, and good cheer and feel better about our Christian walk.  Paul begins this primer by saying: “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

          Can you imagine an America in which this was the norm and not the exception?  Can you imagine a country in which people genuinely cared for others and their hurts?  Where kindness was common?  Where humility was never a false front to curry favor?  Where gentleness always seemed to defuse anger?  And where patience showed itself through good manners no matter how stressed you felt?  My friends, we can all have this by embracing the Christ Child as He has embraced us with His grace!

          Paul delves into this longed-for Christian experience even further: “Bear with each other and forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  To truly forgive another and let go of past hurts is the hardest thing anyone can do.  I suppose that’s why God forgave us all our hurts against Him.  We find such forgiveness impossible to achieve on our own.  But God took that burden off us by giving us the Baby Jesus.  A Baby bore our emotional burden and didn’t crumble under it!  No, He arose to life even after death for our sins took His life!  And so, He “forgives our sins and remembers them no more.”  This gift is given to you through faith.  It’s the ultimate Christmas present to everyone.

          “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  Do you love those check-out people who keep you waiting and waiting, or the persons with a full cart and a fist full of coupons which take extra time to check out?  Do you see them as God’s child, a soul which could benefit from a smile and a prayer?  Do you love that perennially  anger-filled relative who demands from you but seldom gives anything (emotionally) to you?  Love, even non-returned love, is never out-of-style. Instead, it’s the glue that unifies and makes the wounded whole.  God’s love for us is that great unifier.  It’s the Balm of Gilead that takes away the infection of anger and mistrust.  And since we do not come by it naturally, God gives it to us freely in Christ.  So, get rid of your dark thoughts.  “God is love.”  Through faith Christ’s love now dwells in you.

          “Let the peace  of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (don’t be a miser with God’s love as He never runs out!), as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”  Jesus is the Prince of peace.  He’s the One Who made peace with God for us.  The entire Body of Christ, the Church, should reflect that between all its members.  We seek to do it because we’re individually thankful to God.  So let’s show even more corporate thankfulness!  You’ll feel better. You’ll look better.  You’ll sleep better.  And words of praise and happiness will flow off your lips.  This is a benefit bestowed upon us because of Christmas. 

          “And whatever you do, whether in word of deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  I’ve learned to read people by their actions coupled with their facial expressions. Upbeat people are easy to spot and depressed people are too.  Even now, at the end of 2020, after all the bad news, Christians are the most blest, the most confident, the most caring and the most sharing folks around.  And why not?  For unto us a Savior has been born Who is Christ the Lord!  Show it!  Show it to others, to yourself, and most  of all to God!  Amen

THE peace of God….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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