Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015 - God SO loved...

Christmas Eve
Dec 24, 2015
Fr. Phil Eberhart


So how many of you know the most commonly searched scripture on the web?

It shows up in end zones on ESPN and on face paint and eye black for the players - 
Think Tim Tebow.      Any guesses?

John 3:16

So what does John 3:16 have to do with Christmas?  A reasonable question!

I just want to point to one word this evening.  
       -   a two letter word that is packed with meaning.

A seemingly insignificant word - you probably haven't thought a lot about up to this point, but I just want to seed it into your mind tonight - to plant the thought, to make the inquiry.

Have you thought of this?  Have you considered that?

So what is the word?


It can be said many ways, like O or Mm Hmm...

SO?    Soooooo...

Sometimes it modifies another word, as in this case -  a very important word.

"For God SO ... Loved!"

The question that comes to my mind is How much?  

How much did God SO love the world?

Let me bring that into the present... How much DOES God SO love the world?   And of course the world is you and me.

God loves the world enough that, according to the verse, He sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

That brings us here to this time and place tonight.  Considering the Love of God and the fact that He SO loved us - He SO loves us...

That He purposely sent His only Son, his Firstborn Child.
The magic of Christmas - the Present we receive this night is the very presence of God Himself, come as a human baby.

God SO loved ... that He gave.
He gave everything to bring us back to Him.  And as we follow the life of Jesus, we see the Love of God on display!  And this is a love that never fails, never gives up, Never lets go.  No matter what you are experiencing right now - this love is with you, in it.  

In fact that is the given prophetic name of Jesus:  Emmanuel, which means God With US.  There are some other words that you need to put in your hopper for future consideration.  

GOD ...
WITH ...
US !

The point of this night and our celebration is the FACT - a historical fact, provable by every rule of court room evidence beyond a shadow of doubt;  the FACT that Jesus Came among us as a baby, earthly son of Mary, in the line of David, the King of promise.  As we sang earlier - King of Kings and Lord of Lords - And He shall reign forever and ever!

Paul prays that we will come to know the love of God as we experience Jesus Christ - as we receive Him as Lord;  That we will come to experience how wide and how high and how deep and how long is the LOVE OF GOD in Christ Jesus for you.

Paul says that nothing can separate you from the Love of God!

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[o]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But its hard for us to get a handle on the "so" of the verse in John 3:16 until we consider what Paul talked about just now.
The SO has to do with all that God knew before hand - before this night happened.
That His son not only had to come a live a human life.
in which He experienced all the things we experience in our lives, hunger, thirst, exhaustion, pain, loss, suffering, and even death - and not just death, but the worst death ever devised by man in his twisted sinfulness!  Death on a Cross.
Paul tells us about the SO -  If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
Some of us can say a name or two can't we. ... or a circumstance or two!  
Now close your eyes and I want you to see a hand up above you with a scale in the hand.  In the balance is your circumstance, your suffering, your enemy - whatever is pressing on you right now - distracting you, taking your life away, causing you internal or external pain.  I want you to place it on the one side of the scale.
Image result for justice scale
Now on the other side I want to place this LOVE OF GOD -  The love of God FOR YOU.
That's what tonight is about!  Weigh your trials against the overwhelming magnitude of the Love of God for YOU!  Nothing even comes close!  Nothing ever can!!  NO THING can separate you from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.

God SO loved... that He gave.
Let us pray.

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to
take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure
virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made
your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed
by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom
with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and
for ever. Amen.

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