The Rev. William Klock: Sermon for the Sunday after Christmas
From the Rev. William Klock of Living Word REC in British Columbia, here is an excellent Sermon for the Sunday after Christmas, based on Galatians 4:1-7 and Matthew 1:18-25. I think Fr. Bill does a remarkable job of summing up some aspects of what the coming of the Messiah and our new birth as sons and daughters of God mean to us in the here and now. Here is part of this message:
…We fail to understand the Scriptures—and in failing to understand the Scriptures we fail to realise that our hope isn’t just for some time in the future—because sometimes we don’t realise just how privileged we are through our new birth in Jesus. Throughout the gospels Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven, but for some reason we don’t realise that for the most part in describing that kingdom, he’s describing his Church here and now on earth and that heaven is something that in large part exists in our hearts by faith. And when we don’t realise these facts of life—of what it means to be God’s adopted sons and daughters right now. We read the Scriptures, but we miss just how practical they are for life today. Instead, we push it all into the future—something we’ll experience after we die. We’ve looked at a couple of passages from Revelation already, so consider some of the other images that we see there: the throne of God and the One sitting on the throne and all around him the great company of saints rejoicing and praising him; think of the image of wearing crowns and reigning together with Christ for a thousand years; think about those who have been redeemed and follow the Lamb who leads them to living fountains of water. If we miss what it means to be God’s children by adoption, it never occurs to us these things are simply pictures of the new life in Christ that we read about in the prophets and the apostles—that they’re portraits of the great blessings we have because we are born again with Jesus—not just future blessings, but blessing today and blessing that should be making an impact on how we live in the world—how we witness Christ.
The Scriptures show us these amazing things—heaven on earth, in a sense—but too often we miss them. For some reason we’re sometimes hesitant to accept that his kingdom has already begun and that his throne is among us. And yet thinking specifically of Revelation, St. John tells us that God has revealed these things because they are important now, that they’re practical, and should make a difference in how we live today—not just to inspire hope in us for tomorrow. Consider that Daniel—whose book is sort of the Old Testament counterpart to Revelation—when Daniel had received his visions, was told by the angel to seal the book up. It was full of prophetic revelations about the coming of Christ—something that wouldn’t happen for more than 500 years. Daniel’s prophecy would inspire faith and hope in the coming Messiah, but it wasn’t about his own time and so it remained sealed. And yet St. John received his vision and the angel, deliberately using the same language of Daniel to make the connection, tells him not to seal the book. Why? Because in contrast to Daniel, John’s book wasn’t about things that were hundreds and hundred of years away, but that they described the Church right then and in the near future—that what was described in those pages was the life of God’s sons and daughters as they live in his kingdom—in his Church—here on earth. And yet what the angel told John not to seal, we choose ourselves to seal up—to push it into the future—and when we do that we miss the reality of the privilege of sonship that God has brought right to our own door. Brothers and sisters, heaven is near! Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus reminds us that he and his kingdom are not something far away or something we have to hope and long for—they’re right here if we are in him. Let me repeat that: Jesus and his kingdom are right here if we are in him.
Isaac Williams wrote, “We are too much inclined to put away from us what God tells us of our condition, as being grafted by Baptism into the Body of his Son, and having the inestimable gift of His Spirit. And thus we fall short of a due apprehension of the Scriptures; for we are led away by our own earthly wisdom and human sense of things…we cannot think that, as St. Paul says, we are made to sit together in Heavenly places with Christ, above the troubles and cares of this world; neither are we humbled at the reflection that because we are not doing so we are unfaithful to our high calling.”
Fr. Bill goes on to talk more about living as children of the King now, not just in the future – I hope you’ll read the whole thing, or listen to it here.