TITLE: Christmas Sweatshirts
DATE: December 5, 2019
Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.
TEXT: Matthew 3:2-4 – ESV - 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”[a] 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare[b] the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
I couldn't help but notice, a few years ago, a favorite article of clothing for Christmas shoppers was a red sweat shirt that said in large white letters,
“Don't get in my way."
and on the back it said,
“Because I'm Christmas shopping!"
I had a strange thought then. Suppose John the Baptist designed a Christmas sweat shirt. It would probably be made of camel hair, but what message would be put on it do you think? He just might have on front,
"Want to Get Ready for Christmas?"
And one word in large white letters on the back,
But I don't think these shirts would sell, do you? In fact, it would probably just annoy people, you know, kind of like these two women standing in front of a store window, looking at various Christmas decorations when one of them sees a manger scene and says, "Ain't that something? The church trying to horn in on Christmas."
No. Designer Christmas wear by John The Baptist would not go over too big, even, I suspect, with us religious folk who are somewhat familiar with him and the language he uses. I confess to you that I'm not too thrilled with John's Christmas message either. I mean, I want to be able to say to you and to myself, "Rejoice! Deck your halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la."
But instead, the message that's given is, "Repent! Messiah is coming! Repent!" Merry Christmas!
I even got into an imaginary debate with myself or maybe it was with God.
"Every Advent, Lord, you make us read these depressing words from that strange man who dressed funny and lived out in the desert. Isn't there a better way to go about this? A more joyous message? Isn't there another way to Bethlehem?" "No," comes the answer. "This way to Bethlehem." "But that's through the wilderness," I protest. "Yep. That's right," comes the answer. "No way to Bethlehem but through the wilderness."
"But I've got to go to the mall. I'm not ready for Christmas yet. Lots of presents to buy, things to do, you know," I argue. "Well, on the way to the mall, drop by the wilderness for a visit. There's a man there you need to meet. He can help prepare you for Christmas."
"You mean a jolly old bearded man wearing a red suit?" I ask.
"Not exactly," comes the reply. "You'll probably smell something like a camel first. Then you'll know he's near, although you'll probably hear him long before you see him. He's a fiery preacher named John the Baptist." "I really don't have time for a sermon," I reply. "I've just got too much to do. Besides, I'm a preacher myself. If I want to hear a boring sermon, I can always listen to one of my own."
"Well, that's true enough," comes the answer, "but I don't think you'll find this guy boring. In fact, He'll probably make you angry. Maybe he'll make you think. Just maybe he'll help you experience Christmas this year in a way you haven't for a while." Maybe he will lead you to repentance.
I hope so... for me... and for you.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, most of the time we like to think that we are pretty good people. Compared to others, this may be so. Compared to You, it is not close to the truth. For all my misdeeds, I repent. Allow me to rejoice in the forgiveness Jesus has won. In His holy Name I pray it. Amen.
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann. He along with three of his brothers perform on the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html