Sunday, November 29, 2009

Worship Fully

This Advent I'm hopefully preaching a sermon series based on the four concepts of Advent Conspiracy - Worship Fully, Give More, Spend Less and Love All. You can find out more about Advent Conspiracy HERE and HERE.

This particular sermon focused on Worship Fully and did reference the gospel text for today Luke 21:25-36 . But really all of the text from this week were helpful in discussing how we worship fully. The other text for this week were: Jeremiah 33:14-16 Psalm 25:1-10 and 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

So it is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the First Sunday in Advent and I have a question for you: Are you sick of Christmas yet?

Are you tired of the commercial for sales daily reminding you that you need to buy your family’s love (but don’t worry it is on sale this weekend only)? Are you annoy yet with the Christmas carols being constantly played in the malls, department stores and even on the regular radio stations, some places started as early as November 1? Are you disgusted with the house down the road that has already had Christmas decorations up for a month and each day puts up something new? Are you fed up with your ever-growing to-do list of shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, caroling, partying, spending, stressing? It is not even December yet, and are you sick of Christmas?

And really what is the point of all that? Of decorating, shopping, cooking, baking, wrapping, caroling, partying, spending and stressing? Is that meaning of Christmas? Is that what makes memories? Are those your favorite memories of Christmases past? Is your favorite memory of Christmas dealing with the traffic jams and crowds at the mall? Is your favorite part of Christmas trying to find the perfect gift for the random co-worker that you hardly know who you were so lucky get in the secret Santa exchange at work? Is your favorite thing about Christmas is when you finally pay off the last bill in June? Is that what you hope your children and grandchildren remember about Christmas?

See all of that is temporary. They are things of this earth. They will pass away, they will fade. Every year Americans spend 450 Billion dollars on Christmas, most of which will be returned, exchanged or tossed in the trash. Forgotten about by the time Christmas come again the following year.

So are we not to do all this? Are we not to worry about decorating, shopping, cooking, wrapping, caroling, partying, spending, and stressing? But what if you like cooking or caroling or the parties? Well maybe we can do it only differently. Maybe we can conspire to do Christmas in a way that is less stressful and more meaningful.

I would like to invite you join a conspiracy with me. An Advent Conspiracy.

Advent Conspiracy is a group that was started in 2006 by four churches and their pastors to help people reclaim Advent as a season of waiting, of giving, of worship, so that Christmas can be a time of meaning and not about useless gifts, long to-do list, and stress. There are four main concepts to Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully, Give More Presence, Spend Less and Love all. So each week this Advent, I hope to discuss one of these with you so hopefully you will conspire with me.

But first lets begin with worship, because that is where Christmas began, that is why Christmas began. We worship. We worship the infant in the manger, we worship the man hanging from the cross, and we will worship the Son of Man who is coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

To worship means to pray, to sing, to give our time and our possessions. We think we worship, but really worship happens to us. Worship is what God does to use when we think we’re singing, praying and listening on Sunday Mornings.

Worship happens when we hear and listen to God’s voice. Worship happens when we received Christ’s body and blood through the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Worship happened when we have been washed with the grace-filled, life giving waters of baptism. Worship happens when we receive God’s grace and forgiveness. Worship happens to us. To worship fully means to accept the Holy Spirit to move through us, to allow the Spirit to stir our hearts and minds, to receive God’s grace, to gather around Jesus Christ.

To worship fully, in the words of the Advent Conspiracy website, is to realize that: It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

See it all begins with worship. The shepherds had an overwhelming passion to come to worship Jesus in the manger. The wise men had an overwhelming passion to came to worship Jesus and offer him their gifts. That is the point of Christmas, that is the point of Advent.

Advent is a season of waiting. Yes we are waiting and preparing the birth of Christ, something that has already happened, but we are reminded by our Bible lessons today that we are also awaiting for Christ to come again. We are waiting, preparing, praying, singing, listening for when Christ will come again in great glory. For the day when we can stand up and raise our heads in worship, knowing that our redemption is near. We are waiting for a day when we can worship Jesus in all his glory, when he comes again.

This Advent we are waiting and preparing. We are not just preparing our homes with decorations. We are not just preparing our schedules with too much to do. We are not just preparing our credit cards with too many bills to pay (450 billion dollars). This Advent and really each and every day of the entire year, we are waiting and preparing our hearts and minds for Christ. We are waiting and preparing to truly worship Christ. We are waiting and preparing for the day when God’s promises will be fulfilled, when the Lord will be called our righteousness.

But until that day, we worship God and realize, hopefully with an overwhelming passion, that God happens to us in worship. As we wait and prepare, we receive the forgiveness of all of our sins because Christ who was born in a stable will die for our sins and come again in glory. As we wait and prepare, we received God’s everlasting, eternal grace through the gifts of the Lord’s Supper. As we wait and prepare, we are reminded that we are children of God, baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. As we wait and prepare, we worship, for Christmas is coming and Christ is coming again.

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