CHRISTMAS IN JULY
Merry Christmas! Wait, that doesn’t sound right…this is not December 25th, it is July 30th. The sermon for Sunday is Christmas in July. We are driven so much by all of the activity of the holiday season that we are prone to forget the enduring and transformative significance of Christmas. We have heard the word “incarnation,” but we do not always grasp the meaning or the power of this event. A part of religion is to emphasize the “wholly other” of a deity. The deity is powerful, but we are weak, it is significant, but we are insignificant, it is to be pleased, but we cannot be certain if our offering is accepted. This was true for the Greek, Roman, and even those of the Jewish faith. This is still a powerful theme for most of the world’s religions, but something different happens in the incarnation. The living God becomes human flesh and the Ruler of the universe moves into our neighborhood. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who delivered his people from Egypt and parted the Red Sea was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Why would the Almighty God do this? God does this in Jesus Christ so that he can deliver the world from the bondage of sin and death! He does this, not only to deliver humanity, but also to empower us in our weaknesses, to share with us the genuine eternal significance of our lives, and to assure us that he is with us to the end of the world! This week our scripture is 1 John 4:1-3a. The Apostle John is seeking to give the early believers, and us, clarity for finding the power, significance, and assurance for living which can only be found in Jesus Christ! As followers of Christ we could begin every day with “Merry Christmas!” because we are redeemed! It is our most earnest prayer that you will find the assurance and power of God’s love as you read 1 John 4:1-3a: Dearly loved friends, don’t always believe everything you hear just because someone says it is a message from God: test it first to see if it really is. For there are many false teachers around, 2 and the way to find out if their message is from the Holy Spirit is to ask: Does it really agree that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, actually became man with a human body? If so, then the message is from God. 3 If not, the message is not from God but from one who is against Christ.