United Presbyterian Church  2360 Longwood Ave., Reedsport, OR 97467  (541) 271-3214
Sunday Service: 10:30: Choir Warm-up 10:15 — Office Hours: 9:00-2:00 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Pastor's Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30-4:00Saturdays: 9:00-12:00
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 Disclaimer: The sermon below is what was prepared and sat on the pulpit; it may not be what was heard.  

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Pastor Buck during Joys and Concerns

Sermon based on:

GOSPEL READING Mark 1:1-8

1. The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2. It is written in the prophet Isaiah: Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you to prepare your way before you. 3. A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.

4. John the Baptist was in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptized by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.

6. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. 7. In the course of his preaching he said, “After me is coming someone who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. 8. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Sermon for Sunday, Dec 10, 2017

 

There was a feeling of expectancy in the air during the days of John and Jesus. The people were discouraged and looking—hoping—for the promised Messiah; never had they been any more oppressed, and the time just seemed to be right.

Those people of long ago were just like us, people who lived life with the same joys, cares and woes that we have.  Like us they loved, argued and bickered among themselves.  In every way, except for modern amenities, they carried on as we do today. Like us they just wanted to make a living and enjoy family, friends and life.

Life then, as now, went on the same day after day without change; as we have our routines, they had theirs.  Then, like now, once in a while something would happen that caused changes.  Sometimes the changes were major and sometimes they were scarcely perceptible.  It doesn’t take much to make a change—one person can make a dramatic change. For example,

I first noticed that in high school—when my English class changed to the next class, all of us went to algebra together—that was unusual. Ordinarily when we changed we became part of an entirely different group. But from English to Algebra, the only change was the subject and the teacher. But, that change completely altered the personality-dynamics of that class. You wouldn’t know they were the same group. I’ve seen the same thing happen in other groups; when a new person entered, the dynamics changed.

The most I’ve ever noticed this change was when I moved from San Jose to Virginia Beach. As I drove into town I knew I had made a mistake; the feel was different…it was not who I was.

Today we read about John the Baptist—one man who began the personality-change of the world. When John started to prepare the world for the Son of God—the world would never be the same again. John was a game changer with a destiny to fulfill.

I’ve spoken enough about this so you know that I believe we all have a destiny plan; one that most of us don’t attain. If everything was perfect, we would all be highly successful at some endeavor and our friends and neighbors would be better for us having lived. 

Unfortunately, the world is not perfect, so most of us fail miserably at our destiny possibility. Probably because none of us have a clue in what direction our ideal destiny lies.  And, because we’re not taught about God or godly things, we don’t believe strongly enough to trust.

This wasn’t the case with John the Baptist: He was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. His role was so much different than ours that Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth to clue her in about her child and what he was to do.

So, unlike us, he was prepared his whole life. If you listen closely enough to the echoes of the past you can almost hear Elizabeth and Zechariah saying to John, “Son, you have a destiny; yours is to prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah.” And John was willing.

Every life has a realistic plan commensurate with the family and circumstances we’re born into. But there is one aspect of that plan that is the same for all—to leave the world better than when we entered. 

Unlike John or Jesus, our choices are much simpler—hear the call of the Spirit beckoning us to find God; to find Jesus.  You see, that voice is in us, always calling.  The fact that you are in church indicates you hear and feel—at least, in part.

Understand this; none of us has a call that will make us like John the Baptist. None of us have been prophesied about in the Old Testament. Our call is to live ordinary lives, but live it with God by following our indwelling spirit.  The voice of God is always calling, and when we hear it and come to it, we make changes in the world.  And it everyone followed, what a different world this would be.  Lois Dickson heard, and the affect she had on family and friends was profound.

We’re not all like John the Baptist, or Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King, Jr.  We’re simply like the majority of the people back then who led ordinary lives, like Peter, the fisherman, or Judas the accountant, or Matthew the tax man. One way we make (or made) the world better by of the work we do; work satisfying a need.  Especially when done with God. 

Every life is precious to God and for every life there is a plan.  If what I say is true, that God does have a plan for us, why aren’t we aware of it? Seems like it would make life a lot simpler if we knew why we were here.   But, the plain truth is, it’s a truly rare person who knows why we were born or what God has in mind for us.  Do you?  There’s not a single one of us that was born without a plan behind their birth.  What is yours?

I can tell you one large part of God’s overall plan is that we find Him.  God has a plan for all of us and that plan became even more accessible with the birth of Jesus, because from that time on, the indwelling Spirit has been available to us.

Here’s the deal: we’re in the midst of the Christmas season—a season that should bring nothing but joy, But, when we take Jesus out of it, it tends to bring frustration and depression.

That’s because there’s a natural ebb and flow.  When we’re in harmony with God and the universe, all flows smoothly and with far fewer bumps.  When we’re out of sync, nothing seems to run smoothly.

When we lose the reason for the celebration, we get frustrated and depressed.  Jesus wasn’t born so that we could celebrate Santa Claus and give presents to one another.  He came into the world so that it might be happier, more peaceful and a gentler place to live. 

Jesus wants you happy.  His sermon on the mount started with, “Blessed are the,” Blessed means, “Happy are you.”  If you want to be happy, do something, but do it with God.  If you’re not on the plan that God mapped out before you were born, the one that would take you to your fullest potential in life, when we begin living our life with God, we find that plan and life becomes a celebration of Joy.  We do that by saying to God, “Take my life.”

Then trust that He will.  Remember that Christ was born, not just so that you would have eternal live, but also so that you could have a better life here and now.

Let us celebrate this season of God’s arrival on earth by giving the glory to God that He deserves and thank Him for our opportunity to serve, to learn, to love, to grow and to find happiness and joy with Him.

 Amen.