God No Longer Distant
Fr Tom Simmons, Christmas 2017
Do you ever have trouble catching the Christmas spirit?
That’s been me this year. Just never really caught on.
Wanted to see this movie The Man Who Invented Christmas, thinking that would help.
But couldn’t get anyone to go with me.
Maybe you all are thinking, “Come on Tom, don’t be such a downer!”
I hear ya…actually that music before the service got my Christmas juices flowing
but this week I was feeling blah.
Can any of you relate?
I’d like to talk about that tonight with some good news and some bad news.
Let’s start with the bad news.
Something is missing and we are searching for it.
We spend our lives trying to get - The Most Important Thing In Life – and “IT” is different for different people.
We seek popularity or power, praise or romance,
…buying things or building things, changing our hairdo or changing our marriage,
…performance in school, achievement at work, or success on the sports field.
People go to bizarre lengths and do hurtful things to get these.
What IS this thing we’re REALLY after?
Is it stuff from Santa?
I remember as a kid sending letters to Santa full of longing.
I’d stuff envelopes full of pages torn from toy catalogues, longing for…what?
Growing older I realize …
What we’re after is knowing that someone loves us.
The assurance that someone, somewhere thinks I’m important.
They love me for ME and will ALWAYS be there.
But the strange thing is…even when we are blessed with the love of spouse, parents, kids, friends, coworkers, and multitudes of adoring fans….we still feel hungry for more.
And no amount of Christmas cheer will fill that hunger.
The truth of Christmas is that no matter who we are, or what we’ve done, there is One who more drawn to us more than anyone else could be.
He was born in the manger.
You’ve heard it for years.
Unfortunately a lot of us don’t really believe it in a way that makes a difference.
So many folks are just resigned to living… with God in the distance.
è Well, that’s the bad news.
Are you ready for the Good News?
Here it is. Drum roll, please. It’s Christmas!
…announcing that God who seemed SO far has come SO near!
Think of the baby born 2000 years ago.
His birth was heralded by angels – that’s got to be important right? –
…yet announced to grimy shepherds. That’s down to earth.
He was born a king, yet birthed in a barn to refugee parents, with livestock as his royal court.
Who IS that kid? !
Well, we know a lot about the man he became: a world-changer at age 33.
He had a gift for healing people, restoring them in body and soul.
He had a way of freeing people from things that had bound them all their life.
He quenched their thirst with what he called “the water of life.”
You see, people then had the same problems then as we do now.
But they found in Jesus someone who could turn it all around.
That’s why his birthday is the most famous in history.
Is there ANYONE else so extensively and elaborately celebrated?
That’s why we’re here tonight!
At his birth Jesus was given a name: Immanuel.
Immanuel means “God is with us.”
If our problem is God is distant, what do we need? We need God with us – God no longer distant, right?
That’s what we see in that manger on Christmas day.
The Good News is that God has come looking for us, like a father searching for a run-away child.
Jesus was famous for going into the bad neighborhoods,
for getting uncomfortably close to the bad people, the sick people, the poor and afraid and the crazy people.
….to you people…
He’s the only God who came down – all the way down –
to live OUR life,
to die THAT death,
to walk again out of the grave.
He walked an extra mile in our shoes…
to make it possible for us to walk with God.
He restored us to intimacy with God
THIS is the love you are looking for. It satisfies the soul if you’ll just surrender to it.
è Do you want this? I’ve shared the bad news and the good news that God is no longer distant.
Now I’ll share the secret of how to have it.
First entrust yourself to his care. Here’s how you do that.
Imagine that you read in the news about a physician who has performed a delicate operation and has cured a dreadful disease.
You read about it and you believe it.
And then imagine that you have a friend who came down with that disease and was healed by that physician.
So, you not only believe "about" the physician, having read about him in a medical journal.
Now you believe "in" that physician because he cured your friend.
But suppose you come down with that disease yourself.
Believing “about” the doctor or even having positive feelings believing “in” the doctor won't help you.
You need to go to the surgeon yourself and entrust yourself to his care.
Do you see the difference?
Believing is one thing. Believing enough to ACT on it is another.
I’ve shared bad news with you tonight.
Our hearts are hungry and can’t be satisfied.
I’s shared good news with you tonight.
There’s a cure, offered by the Great Physician, born in that manger 2017 years ago.
Do you believe it?
Will you be treated?
Will you entrust yourself to his care?
I’m here to tell you he has a 100 day course of treatment. It requires 15 weekly appointments, one every week.
If you have your calendars handy… the appointments are the same time every week: an hour and a half on Sunday morning.
It’s 3 months walking together with Jesus from the cradle to the grave, rising with him on Easter.
It can change your life.