— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) January 7, 2018
You may read more about Rob’s ministry there.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) January 7, 2018
You may read more about Rob’s ministry there.
Seeing the star. This is where it starts. But why, we might ask, did the Magi alone see the star? Perhaps because few people raised their eyes to heaven. We often make do with looking at the ground: it’s enough to have our health, a little money and a bit of entertainment. I wonder if we still know how to look up at the sky. Do we know how to dream, to long for God, to expect the newness he brings, or do we let ourselves be swept along by life, like dry branches before the wind? The Magi were not content with just getting by, with keeping afloat. They understood that to truly live, we need a lofty goal and we need to keep looking up.
Yet we can also ask why, among all those who looked up at the heavens, so many others did not follow that star, “his star” (Mt2:2). Perhaps because the star was not eye-catching, did not shine any brighter than other stars. It was a star – so the Gospel tells us – that the Magi saw “at its rising” (vv. 2, 9). Jesus’ star does not dazzle or overwhelm, but gently invites. We may ask ourselves what star we have chosen to follow in our lives. Some stars may be bright, but they do not point the way. So it is with success, money, career, honours and pleasures when these become our life. They are meteors: they blaze momentarily, but then quickly burn out and their brilliance fades. They are shooting stars that mislead rather than lead. The Lord’s star, however, may not always overwhelm by its brightness, but it is always there, ever kindly: it takes you by the hand in life and accompanies you. It does not promise material reward, but ensures peace and grants, as it did to the Magi, “exceedingly great joy” (Mt 2:10). But it also tells us to set out.
Setting out, the second thing the Magi do, is essential if we are to find Jesus. His star demands a decision to take up the journey and to advance tirelessly on our way. It demands that we free ourselves from useless burdens and unnecessary extras that only prove a hindrance, and accept unforeseen obstacles along the map of life. Jesus allows himself to be found by those who seek him, but to find him we need to get up and go, not sit around but take risks, not stand still, but set out.
“I was a stranger, and you took Me in.” Matthew 25:35.
“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12.
I lately received a New Year’s card which suggested to me the topic on which I am about to speak to you. The designer of the card has, with holy insight, seen the relation of the two texts to each other and rendered both of them eminently suggestive by placing them together. There is freshness in the thought that, by receiving Jesus as a stranger, our believing hospitality works in us a Divine capacity and we thereby receive power to become the sons of God.
The connection suggested between the two Inspired words is really existent and by no means strained or fanciful, as you will see by reading the context of the passage in John”””He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” So He was a stranger in the world which He Himself had made! “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” So He was a stranger among the people whom He had set apart for His own by many deeds of mercy! “But as many as received Him”””that is to say, gave entertainment to this blessed Stranger”””to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
I thought that this might prove to be a suitable and salutary passage to discourse upon at the beginning of a New Year, for this is a season of hospitality and some among our friends will think it well to commence a New Year by saying to the Lord Jesus, “Come in, You blessed of the Lord; why do You stand outside?”
THE AIRE IS NOT so full of Moats, of Atomes, as the Church is of Mercies; and as we can suck in no part of aire, but we take in those Moats, those Atomes; so here in the Congregation we cannot suck in a word from the preacher, we cannot speak, we cannot sigh a prayer to God, but that that whole breath and aire is made of mercy. But we call not upon you from this Text, to consider Gods ordinary mercy, that which he exhibites to all in the ministery of his Church, nor his miraculous mercy, his extraordinary deliverances of States and Churches; but we call upon particular Consciences, by occasion of this Text, to call to minde Gods occasionall mercies to them; such mercies as a regenerate man will call mercies, though a naturall man would call them accidents, or occurrences, or contingencies; A man wakes at midnight full of unclean thoughts, and he heares a passing Bell; this is an occasionall mercy, if he call that his own knell, and consider how unfit he was to be called out of the world then, how unready to receive that voice, Foole, this night they shall fetch away thy soule. The adulterer, whose eye waites for the twy-light, goes forth, and casts his eyes upon forbidden houses, and would enter, and sees a Lord have mercy upon us upon the doore; this is an occasionall mercy, if this bring him to know that they who lie sick of the plague within, passe through a furnace, but by Gods grace, to heaven; and hee without, carries his own furnace to hell, his lustfull loines to everlasting perdition. What an occasionall mercy had Balaam, when his Asse Catcehized him: What an occasionall mercy had one Theefe, when the other catcehized him so, Art not thou afraid being under the same condemnation What an occasionall mercy had all they that saw that, when the Devil himself fought for the name of Jesus, and wounded the sons of Sceva for exorcising in the name of Jesus, with that indignation, with that increpation, Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but who are ye; If I should declare what God hath done (done occasionally) for my soule, where he instructed me for feare of falling, where he raised me when I was fallen, perchance you would rather fixe vour thoughts upon my illnesses and wonder at that, than at Gods goodnesse, and glorifie him in that; rather wonder at my sins, than at his mercies, rather consider how ill a man I was, than how good a God he is. If I should inquire upon what occasion God elected me, and writ my name in the book of Life I should-sooner be afraid that it were not so, than finde a reason why it should be so. God made Sun and Moon to distinguish seasons, and day, and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons: But Cod hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies; In paradise, the fruits were ripe, the first minute, and in heaven it is alwaies Autumne, his mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask panem quotidianum, our daily bread, and God never sayes you should have come yesterday, he never sayes you must againe to morrow, but to day if you will heare his voice, to day he will heare you. If some King of the earth have so large an extent of Dominion, in North, and South, as that he hath Winter and Summer together in his Dominions, so large an extent East and West, as that he hath day and night together in his Dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgement together: He brought light out of darknesse, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring; though in the wayes of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclypsed, damped and benummed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.
“The Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Today, as we celebrate Christmas, we pray for the families of the Egyptian martyrs who lost their loved ones in the terrorist attacks last year. We also pray for divine protection from all evil powers for our beloved country Egypt.
We also remember our Palestinian brothers and sisters and pray for them; that they may get to live in an independent State with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital. We cry out to the Lord of justice to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinians, Yemenis and Syrians. We fix our eyes on the Prince of Peace, and ask that He grant His peace to all the peoples of the region.
During the last few weeks, we observed Advent, and during this time, we meditated on the prophecies that were made by the Old Testament prophets about the birth of Jesus Christ. We also meditated on the circumstances in which the people lived at that time. We reflected on how we can prepare our hearts for the second coming of Christ.
Today, we celebrate Christmas, which is the first coming of Jesus, while our hearts long for His second coming. If we compare the contexts in which Jesus was born with the current context where we live now, we will find lots of similarities between the two.
For the next ten minutes, I want to say a few words about each of those two scenes in turn. I want to ask, first of all, what the manger might’ve meant to Mary and Joseph; and then secondly, what it might have meant to the shepherds. I hope that by the end we may glimpse what that manger can mean to you and me as well.
The nature of God who has all power, and from whom all power comes, is to lay it aside for love’s sake and thus without fear, force or manipulation to offer true freedom for every human being. God is showing all truth in its completest form, all love in its purest aspect, the true light of freedom all wrapped up in the baby in Bethlehem.
The light needed witnesses at the beginning and needs them to this day. It is the calling of every Christian to be a witness to the light, in word and deed, in all circumstances.
In Coventry Cathedral is one of my favourite pictures, the Stalingrad Madonna. It was drawn on paper in charcoal on Christmas Day 1942, 75 years ago, by a German medical officer under siege from the advancing Russian armies near Stalingrad. It shows Mary huddled against the terrible cold, holding Jesus, sheltered, to her cheek. Round her are the words “Licht, leben, Liebe” (Light, Life, love). Christ offers life of true freedom in love, in the darkest places his light shines. Every human being is invited to share that life and freedom. Christians are its witnesses.
Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room, are the first to embrace the One who comes to give all of us our document of citizenship. The One who in his poverty and humility proclaims and shows that true power and authentic freedom are shown in honouring and assisting the weak and the frail.
That night, the One who had no place to be born is proclaimed to those who had no place at the table or in the streets of the city. The shepherds are the first to hear this Good News. By reason of their work, they were men and women forced to live on the edges of society. Their state of life, and the places they had to stay, prevented them from observing all the ritual prescriptions of religious purification; as a result, they were considered unclean. Their skin, their clothing, their smell, their way of speaking, their origin, all betrayed them. Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared. They were considered pagans among the believers, sinners among the just, foreigners among the citizens. Yet to them – pagans, sinners and foreigners – the angel says: “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).
This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same.
Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Will You be Ready When Christ Comes? Learning from John the Witness (John 1:9-28) https://t.co/PgKMaUUAyC #sermons #advent #eschatology #bible John the witness vs last week John the baptizer pic.twitter.com/1T5ujF2HdM
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) December 20, 2017
There is a marvelous medicinal power in joy. Most medicines are distasteful; but this, which is the best of all medicines, is sweet to the taste, and comforting to the heart. We noticed, in our reading, that there had been a little tiff between two sisters in the church at Philippi;—I am glad that we do not know what the quarrel was about; I am usually thankful for ignorance on such subjects;—but, as a cure for disagreements, the apostle says, “Rejoice in the Lord alway.” People who are very happy, especially those who are very happy in the Lord, are not apt either to give offence or to take offence. Their minds are so sweetly occupied with higher things, that they are not easily distracted by the little troubles which naturally arise among such imperfect creatures as we are. Joy in the Lord is the cure for all discord. Should it not be so? What is this joy but the concord of the soul, the accord of the heart, with the joy of heaven? Joy in the Lord, then, drives away the discords of earth.
Further, brethren, notice that the apostle, after he had said, “Rejoice in the Lord alway,” commanded the Philippians to be careful for nothing, thus implying that joy in the Lord is one of the best preparations for the trials of this life. The cure for care is joy in the Lord. No, my brother, you will not be able to keep on with your fretfulness; no, my sister, you will not be able to weary yourself any longer with your anxieties, if the Lord will but fill you with his joy. Then, being satisfied with your God, yea, more than satisfied, overflowing with delight in him, you will say to yourself, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” What is there on earth that is worth fretting for even for five minutes? If one could gain an imperial crown by a day of care, it would be too great an expense for a thing which would bring more care with it. Therefore, let us be thankful, let us be joyful in the Lord. I count it one of the wisest things that, by rejoicing in the Lord, we commence our heaven here below. It is possible so to do, it is profitable so to do, and we are commanded so to do.
Now I come to the text itself, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
––C.H. Spurgeon (1834–1892)
Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon pic.twitter.com/nTe9ypgkWD
— Charles H. Spurgeon (@CHSpurgeon1) November 21, 2017
You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. This is now the second time in a row I have been called to preach after a South Carolina Supreme Court decision, and I just happened to be preaching on Ezekiel 37 already before the news hit Saturday–there could hardly be a more applicable passage.