There’s some confusion surrounding this coming Sunday that I think I can clear up. First, it’s the Lord’s Day so we will worship as usual in the morning. Second, it’s also Christmas Eve, so we will have our usual Christmas Eve service. We encourage you to come to both services because of the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ. Ross has prepared some wonderful things for us: morning worship at 10:30a (no Sunday school this week); evening worship at 6:30p.
So, here’s the big ask: we have so far no one willing to take the nursery on Christmas Eve. I have a role early in the service, but after that I’m willing to share nursery with a couple of others. Of course, no one wants to miss this service, but sacrifice and faith go hand-in-hand. Anybody willing to join me can contact Julie through her office email.
Please mark your calendars for January 13 & 14. Professor John C. (Jack) Collins of Covenant Seminary will be with us for a brunch discussion on Saturday, then preach in worship on Sunday. Jack served as Old Testament Chairman for the ESV Study Bible (which many of you have) and has written extensively on the historicity of the Genesis account. He’s also an old friend from our days in Tacoma. He was a double major (engineering) at MIT, then did an MDiv, followed by a PhD in Hebrew at the University of Liverpool. He’s a clear, courageous, provocative thinker with a desert-dry sense of humor (which, I promise you, he will employ at my expense) — and you’ll enjoy hearing him.
Okay, a brief comment pushing back on my own sermon last Sunday. Sermons like that one can give the impression that living a “normal” life is somehow an unacceptable means of serving God. On the contrary, we refer to a job as a “vocation,” meaning literally a “calling,” and the one who does the calling is God.
Think of Ac. 17:24ff “The God who made the world and everything in it…himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” Whatever else this means, it’s clear God is behind who you are, when and where you are, and what you are doing. The character of the life you live here is what matters most. As for being “normal,” let me offer an example.
Remember, Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Council who did not consent to their decision to crucify Jesus. In the Gospels, Joseph is the kind of unremarkable man who follows rules, works within systems, and remains devout. No hint of the romantic revolutionary. While he doesn’t condone the Council’s decision, he remains on the Council and abides by its judgments. Nor does he attempt to thwart the Roman judicial machine (as a member of the Zealot party might have), but goes to Pilate after the Crucifixion to request Jesus’ body. He thinks and works in proper channels, not placing himself above them in judgment but remaining beneath them in humility, submitting to their protocol and integrity. And this man God refers to as “good and righteous” (Luke 23:50).
So, keep your day job. There’s nothing wrong with it. This is what 1 Peter 2:13ff is getting at: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
What he’s saying is, “the real key is not overthrowing the system, but being extraordinary in ordinary circumstances.” This we do by the grace and strength of God, who has appointed us to this place and time.
Looking forward to being with you Christmas Eve!