Friday, December 24, 2010

Why Jesus Came

A couple of Sundays ago at church, it was Tommy Shelton's job to prepare us for communion. We have communion every Sunday at our church -- I grew up in Southern Baptist churches where communion was once a quarter. So for the first few months at our current church, it would surprise me every Sunday when the elements were passed out and whoever was next to me would have to nudge me to take the plate. Tommy Shelton is our church's youth pastor and I really like his sermons -- they are often a little complex, but he comes back around to where he started and I always love how he gets back there. Here is a link to his Sunday sermons -- I highly recommend the sermon from Christmas last year (Bread, Goggles & Wise Men): http://www.vimeo.com/tommypreaches.

But on the Sunday I'm talking about, Tommy's only job was to prepare us for communion. Because we have communion every Sunday, the job of preparing the congregation for it is passed around to different people (much like the elements themselves) -- I used to laugh to myself that it must be difficult to think of new things to say about communion every week and pity the poor soul whose turn it was to get up there, but after hearing about a year's worth of insights into communion, I'm starting to have a new perspective on communion. I think that maybe the point of having communion every week is to actually incorporate the taking of the bread and wine into the routine of worship. Think about it -- effective corporate worship involves being comfortable enough in your surroundings to not think about what's going to happen next so that you can let your heart and mind find God without distraction. At churches where communion is taken once a quarter and on Christmas and Easter, communion itself is an event -- we have to make room for it in the Sunday morning line-up. It changes things up and throws the rhythm of worship off -- I've never found communion to be that meaningful in those circumstances. Now that I've been taking communion every week for a year, it's part of my weekly corporate worship and I am comfortable enough to find God there without distraction.

So on this Christmas Eve, I wanted to share Tommy's insights into Christmas and Communion with you:

It’s obvious to my family that Christmas is coming soon. I have loved the cold weather lately because for me cold=Christmas, its because of where I grew up. The first Christmas I spent here, I spent in shorts, and it just didn’t seem right. So I know that Christmas is coming but what does that bring with it? Well, we know that as followers of Christ that Christmas is about the coming of Jesus. And we know from the Gospels that Jesus did so many wonderful things and it would appear by looking at the sheer volume of things that Christ accomplished and the things that Christ taught, that Jesus came for so many reasons. And we realize that Christ came because he was the Fathers gift to us, and he came to love us and to show us how to live. He came to do miraculous things, he came to feed homeless and heal the sick and gift sight to the blind. We know all of these things, we read them in Matthew, Mark Luke, and John. We see the richness and the fullness of Christ’s life and everything that he accomplished, but why did Jesus come -- I mean why did he really come? We read in 1st Corinthians 5:21 that “He made Him who knew no sin to become sin that we might become the righteousness of God.” But what was THE purpose for Jesus’ life? The purpose of Jesus’ life was Jesus‘ death. Jesus came to die. Everything that Jesus did, he did on the way to the cross. Every sermon that he taught was on the way to the cross. Every hungry mouth he fed was on the way to the cross. Every blind and crippled man he healed was on the way to the cross. Meditate on this meal because it is symbolic for the reason why Christ came -- so his blood could be spilled and that we could be washed clean. Of course Jesus healed, he is a loving God. Of course he fed, he is a loving God. Jesus always had time for those in need. But He was always clear that the purpose of His coming was to die. He came so that his flesh could be torn and his blood would be spilled so that we could be washed clean. We spend a lot of time with our children and they get all wrapped up with the presents part of Christmas, and its almost so cliché’ to say, “lets remember Jesus is the reason for the season” but what’s the real reason? Lets go a little bit deeper than that. Jesus came to die. My children were asking me the other day what my favorite holiday was, and I said I think it’s Christmas, and Adelyn said, “mine too.” And Ella my seven year old said “But daddy, Easter is the most important holiday though, isn't it? And I said, "Yes Ella it is," but then I said "Girls, Christmas is really a celebration of Easter, Jesus had to be born for him to die." So, this meal, this simple juice, and this simple piece of bread symbolizes the life that we can have -- the righteousness that we can have. Because God made him who knew know sin to become sin so that we might become the righteousness of God.

So this Christmas, may God's peace be with you because you are confident in your Savior's love for you -- because you know that your Savior died that you may have life.

Merry Christmas!


(***Special thanks to Tommy Shelton for allowing me to post his message!***)

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful! Makes me think about Ethan, bringing his homemade ornaments to school. This year, is our first year at public school. When Ethan brought home his December family project, it was to make an ornament that symbolized our "family culture" around the "holiday!" So, we went to Michael's, Ethan picked out a cross and some red paint. He said he wanted to paint the cross red, to show Jesus's blood for us. Well, I didn't want to freak anybody out, but I let him do it. He painted it red and did a speech about Jesus being born, that's what Christmas is all about, but then He had to die for our sins. He also painted a Santa ornament and tied that in. I was so proud of him. As he walked back to his seat, a little boy told him, that was a very good Bible story, Ethan! Anyhoo, Tommy's comment on Christmas being a celebration of Easter....reminded me of all that! ~amy

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  2. Amy --
    I remember a mutual friend of ours always struggling with whether to keep her kids in or take her kids out of public school. During a year when they were in public school, she talked a lot about how she felt that they were being "salt and light" in the public school system and that she felt that was a good reason to keep them there. It sounds like you guys are being salt and light, too. Go Ethan!

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