Posts Tagged ‘sermon’

Is it really day 5 of the New Year??!!!! Wasn’t it just Christmas a few hours ago? Give us a few weeks and it will be 2011. May this very fast 2010 be filled with the blessings of God. May Emmanuel be with you, dwell with you, comfort you, rejoice with you.

I thought I might share my sermon from Sunday that was meaningful to me and some of my congregants commented on what it meant to them. Don’t worry, I am not the pastor who thinks ALL of their sermons are the best in the universe. No, only occasionally does one seem slightly worthy of broadcasting on my blog.  Of course, reading it is very different than hearing it preached…sometimes it comes across by reading and sometimes it doesn’t. Most of my sermons are rather concise, 10-15 minutes, so this will be a short read.

The Indwelling Word

January 3, 2010

Rev. Brenda Griffin Warren

For this reason Jesus had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2: 17-18 TNIV   Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 TNIV

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1: 14 TNIV)

I heard the story of a little boy who was frightened one night during a big thunderstorm. Terrified, he called out from his room, “Daddy, I am scared!”

His father, not wanting to get out of bed, called back, “Don’t worry, son. God loves you and will take care of you.”

There was a moment of silence. The little boy said, “I know God loves me, but right now, I need somebody who has skin on.”

John wrote about that God with skin on in the first chapter of his gospel when he declared that the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. In the original Greek, the word dwelling literally means, he came and tabernacled among us, God came and put up his tent among us. He came and moved in with us.

In the Old Testament times, God’s presence was found in the very sacred veiled Holy of Holies in the center of the large tent-like tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. In the tabernacle in the Sinai wilderness, God’s presence was recognized by a cloud by day and a flame by night. The High Priest was the only one who could be in the presence of God and he could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement after a strenuous ritual of purification and preparation. A rope was even tied around the High Priest’s ankle, so that if he died in the presence of God, he could be pulled out by his leg, because no one else could enter that holy place. Being in the presence of God was very serious business.

When the long-awaited and promised Messiah came, he was God’s presence with skin on. He was a living, breathing person who was both human and divine. He was a walking, talking, healing, forgiving, good-news bringing representation of God. Jesus came and tabernacled among us, he came and set up his tent among us. Even his name, Emmanuel means, God with us. He moved in with us, He set up his home in our lives.

So, what does this tabernacling, this God becoming flesh mean to us? It means to me that since God’s Son lived as a human, that he understands what we go through. He is not some God up there in the heavenlies sitting on a throne who does not understand what it is like to live on this earth.

Jesus was not only God’s son, but also Mary and Joseph’s son. He had to obey his parents, he experienced life as a child, as a teenager, and as a young adult. He had to learn a trade, he had to do chores, he had to help with the family financial support, he had to help grow crops, he had to go through illness, he had to live with brothers and sisters, he lost family members to death including his good friend Lazarus, he had to attend worship and he also attended parties and weddings, he was tempted, he had to put up with mean people, he was often disappointed in people’s reactions, he had to pray, he had to suffer, he had to die.

Whenever we go through some difficulty in life, remember that Jesus went through that pain and that he suffers with you, he weeps with you, he sympathizes with your situation. Yet, when you go through a joy in life, he also rejoices with you. Christ understands both our deep sufferings and our inexplicable joys. He’s been there, he’s done that.

Jesus makes his dwelling in your life when you invite Him in. He comes and tabernacles in your life, he puts up his tent in your life. Christ is right there, living in and through you. We are never alone, we are never forsaken, because the God of the universe dwells with us, tabernacles with us, lives with us.

When God makes His home in our lives, we become a sanctuary, a temple where Christ lives. We are portable, mobile sanctuaries going forth into our homes, our workplaces, our schools, our clubs, our shopping places. We are bringing Christ wherever we are. Pretty amazing thought, huh?

When Christ lives in us, when he tabernacles in our lives, we too become incarnational, human with a spark of the divine. We become Christ’s heart to love unconditionally, his hands to touch the sick and to feed the hungry, his arms to embrace and hold up the weak, his feet to go care for the poor, his lips to be a word of blessing and encouragement, his eyes to show compassion, and his ears to listen to human struggles. When Christ dwells in our lives, we become houses of prayer.

Emmanuel "God with us" from a Haitian artist (from Haitian H2 0)
Emmanuel ” God with us” from a Haitian artist (from Haitian H2 0)

In 2010, let us be sanctuaries of grace, hope, hospitality, justice, forgiveness, and love. A sanctuary where Christ is worshipped every moment of everyday, a place where people know they are loved and accepted unconditionally, a place where blessings instead of curses come forth from our mouths, a place where Christ’s light shines forth to guide others to the path of God, a place where peace is experienced.

As we begin this new decade, let us take care of our personal sanctuaries, the dwelling place of God. Let us work to keep our lives, our souls clean and maintained. If you have somehow messed up in 2009 with keeping your sanctuary worthy of a dwelling place for Christ, know that you have a fresh new start in 2010. The old is gone and the new has arrived. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. 2 Corinthians 4: 15 The Message.

You have another chance to live as a Christ-bearer, as one who carries the image of Christ on their life.

As a Christian, as a disciple of Christ, you are a sanctuary, you are Christ with skin on.


Sing Sanctuary by Thompson and Scruggs: “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for You.”


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