I was listening to this guy preach on the radio, and he said, “You know, some of you, this year, at Christmas, as you are listening to the story, don’t feel the wonder of it, and it’s all ho-hum to you.”
And I’m thinking, “Mann, you have been preaching the same sermons, all of you, you have been preaching the same sermons, for over a hundred years now.”
So if you get to be a certain age and you’ve gone to church at Christmas, you’ve heard this stuff every year. It’s NOT OUR FAULT WE’RE BORED.
YOU ARE SAYING THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
[cute dove gif goes here]
That’s your fault, then, that we’re bored. Not ours. You can go on to say, “Well, let me explain how you can make this message practical,” and I’ll say “NO, let me explain how I’m here on a Sunday to hear something that I possibly might not have heard before. To much to ask? I disagree. See, I feel like, if you want to tell me that the world is in trouble and that things need to change, then I’m going to need new, additional information to help me make that change and fix that trouble. The same information isn’t going to bring me to anything new.
If when I stepped outside the door, everything was perfect, then it would make sense for us to recite this stuff like this. But as it is, I feel like there is something you need to teach me, sir. That’s why I’m here.
What are you going to tell me that I don’t know?
[another gif, probably candy canes in a cross]
So for my Christmas Sermon Number One, I wanted to say something that maybe people haven’t heard, and it’s really boring! You’re going to hear me and then say, That’s what you’ve got? That’s really boring. That’s obviously the case; sure it’s true; whatever, I’m bored! I hope that’s what you say. Probably. This is how it goes.
People talk about how Christ was sent to bring peace. The promise was that when Christ came there would be Peace On Earth and yet clearly there isn’t.
And this is easy to understand. See, when Christ came, He gave us knowledge of how to bring peace about, and He left us with That Job.
(And here at this part you are supposed to go, Duh, that’s boring; obviously.)
Meanwhile, ‘He gave us knowledge of how to bring that peace about and left us with That Job’ . . . runs completely contrary to almost everything you’ll hear said in a church, at any time of year. So you and I can agree that that’s obvious; you and I can agree that that’s even boring; it’s a duh, it’s an everybody knows that, sure; but no one lives that way, or even talks that way.
Instead, what do we say? We say our peace is an inner peace. We say that we’re waiting, for the actual peace: our work is waiting; that when they said ‘Here Comes Peace On Earth’, what they meant was ‘Here Comes Peace On Earth Later’. That must be what they meant, right? (reference no peace on earth)
I mean, we wouldn’t come up with a sentence like Here comes Peace On Earth Later, we wouldn’t come up with a sentence that goofy, on our own. We only come up with it because we’re trying to reconcile* the evidence in front of us and what we were told. The disconnect between the two is so large that we have to get a little weird to make them make sense with each other. ‘Well, when they said we were going to have Peace On Earth they couldn’t have been lying, but we don’t have Peace On Earth, so they must have actually meant Peace On Earth Later, when I come back for — actually it’s the third time, right?’
But that is not what they actually said, so I doubt it is what they actually meant. Angels did not appear and say, ‘Hey, check it out, an important pre-requisite to this thing that is going to bring us Peace On Earth later.’ They said ‘This is it. This is Peace On Earth right here.‘
There’s a verse, Hebrews 10:16, that says that now that Christ has been here on Earth, we have all of us within us knowledge of what is right and wrong. We have, all, within us, new knowledge of this. This is a change that no preacher has ever pulled out and made obvious to me. I wonder a lot why this is not a bigger deal.** People talk so much about what changed because Christ came to Earth, but they don’t bring this up: that now we all know things that we didn’t know before. Great teacher, that whole line, you’ve heard it from aethists. But not in church.
Can you imagine that two-thousand-plus years ago, 2500 years ago, if you were to pull someone up on the street, and question them about what they knew about right and wrong and good and bad and how to treat their fellow man, how radically different that would be from what they would know now, and what changed that? This promise — that we would know in our hearts right and wrong, because of Christ — is not a promise you need to make up some junk to understand. It’s quite practical, quite real, and quite simple.
It’s not a mystery, is what I’m saying. Someone came and taught us how to be good, and now we know.
We didn’t used to.
[no, angel gif here, like a pair of them]
This is the peace that was brought to earth. We were taught how to be good by an amazing teacher. The mechanism of it all is not complicated; it’s not beyond you; it’s not a mystery. And now the ball is in our court. We have this knowledge: what are we doing with it? Mostly, repeating it to each other, week after week. Great start, but I don’t think that’s enough. I’ll know that whatever we’re doing is enough when there is no war any more.
You know, someone asked me this week, do you think global warming is depressing? I said, no, there are other things I find depressing, like hundreds of thousands of people, running around in poor neighborhoods on the same day of the year, wasting their time in an effort to ‘do some good’: people with degrees, people with skills, people with political influence — scooping mashed potatoes at poverty, telling each other ‘It’s humbling!’
I don’t want you to be humbled. I want you to be powerful, and to use your knowledge of what’s good to change the world. That’s what I want.
[gif – star or something]
CHRISTIANITY EFFING WORKED, IS WHAT I AM SAYING, FOLKS.
**Perhaps because we are too busy remembering what hopeless sinners we are to consider this kind of verse.
Shoutout to preachers. (If you want to write a great sermon every time, it’s easy– cheat. Go to other church’s services incognito and steal their best ideas. )