The ABC’s of Why We Need Christmas: A

I belatedly found some hand written notes from my 1995 Nativity Lent Sermon series, “The ABC’s of Why We Need Christmas.”   The notes list the ABC’s as

A  Adam and Abel

B  Blessing, Berith, Baptism

C  Covenant and Creation

D  David, Demons, Death

E  Eternal, Eve, Evil

F  Forgiveness


For A – Adam and Abel – I only wrote down a series of bible quotes from which I would have constructed the sermon (the sermon I did not write down):


Genesis 3:8 They (Adam & Eve) heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man (Adam), and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”  … 17 And to the man (Adam) he (God) said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Luke 3:38   son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.

Romans 5:14   Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

1 Corinthians 15:22, 45   for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. …   Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit


Genesis 4:4 and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

Hebrews 11:4    By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks.

Adam – the first human whose sin not only allowed death to become part of the human condition but also allowed death to reign over humanity throughout history.    Abel – the first human to die, murdered by his own brother

We need Christmas to overcome the culture of death that has become the human condition.

NEXT:  The ABCs of Why We Need Christmas: B

Putting to Death the Enmity not the Enemy

Sermon notes from 30 November 2008  on   Ephesians 2:14-22    

Christ Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,

Peace is not an abstract idea or a philosophy; it is neither doctrine nor a document.  It is the person of Jesus Christ.  As the bumper stickers say, “No Christ, No Peace.  Know Christ, Know Peace.”

Christ breaks down the wall which separates humanity from God, and also the wall which existed between Jew and Gentile.  Paul is attributing to Christ a unity between God and humanity and between all humans which is actually part of Jewish teaching but which had sometimes been ignored by the Jews.  Namely:  1)  Genesis 12:1-3 –   ALL families on earth will be blessed through Abraham (not just Jewish ones); and,  2)  Isaiah 42:1-6, 49:6  –  Israel is to be  light to the Nations (it’s very role as being chosen is to serve humanity) 

having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,

“in his flesh” – the Incarnation, the real meaning of the Christmas story, is about the salvation of the world, about ending the enmity which exists between God and humans and between Jew and Gentile.

The law which was to be a sign of Israel’s faithfulness to God as a light to the world, had instead become an exclusionary curtain which brought darkness to the Gentiles.

As at the beginning of the world in Genesis 1-2, so too in Christ a new man is being created.   All humans are sinners, even those keeping Torah, all are in need of forgiveness, reconciliation, salvation – Jew and Gentile.  The Law didn’t stop the Jews from sinning but they began to act as if it protected them from the consequence of sin.

and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

“put to death/slain the enmity”  –  Christ slays the enmity not the enemies.  On the Cross, Christ destroys death, not sinners

James 4:4    –    Unfaithful people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

1 Cor 15:26   –  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Christ gives peace without defeating the Gentiles, but by making them a new creation and a new humanity.  Christ recreates both Jew and Gentile – the law no longer separates one from the other, nor does keeping or not keeping Torah separate us from God.

Christ defeats death not the Gentiles or sinners.  Christ brings about the reconciliation of humans who had become separated, alienated as a result of the Fall and of sin (Genesis 3-4)

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

 Though there is a very heavy emphasis on the spirituality of being in exile, of being a sojourner, of being, a resident alien, or a stranger, ultimately the work of Christ recreates and refashions us into one people; we all become fellow citizens with the saints

having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself  being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

The Church is not a building made up of brick and steel.  The Church is the living unity and fellowship of all believers.  The true mission of believers is not to build edifices but rather to edify one another and build community/communities.

Why can it be said that one Christian alone is no Christian?   Because to be a Christian is to be a member of the household of God.  To be a Christian is to be part of the living Temple made up of believers being built together to be the dwelling place of the Spirit.  You cannot do this in isolation from other believers.  You cannot go into the woods and commune with God alone and think that is Christianity.  To be a baptized communicatant – a believing Christian – is to be growing together with others into this holy, living temple of all believers.

The bible alone is not what the Bible teaches.

The ABC’s of Why We Need Christmas: B

In the years before blogging, I inconsistently hand wrote or typed on a computer my sermon notes. I used notes to preach from and didn’t fully write out the sermons – the notes were enough to remind me of the points I wanted to make. Looking back at those notes I realize I made cryptic reference to stories or scripture verses which were on my mind for the moment, but sometimes did not record the verses or write out what use I intended to make of them.  I never thought much about wanting to read these sermons again. In fact I didn’t even record many of my sermons – sometimes tossing away the notes after delivering the sermon, deleting them from my computer, or giving away the printed version to whomever asked for them from the congregation.

nativityIn Nativity Lent of 1995 I gave a series of sermons entitled, THE ABC’S OF WHY WE NEED CHRISTMAS (I only know this from the sermon notes I found on my computer – I don’t remember the series).   You can read the notes from first sermon in that series from 19 November 1995 (The ‘A’ of the ‘ABC’s). I will offer in the next couple of blogs the notes I did record on my computer which were the basis of my sermons (which themselves were not recorded). The sermon from 26 November 1995:


In Genesis 3:15, The Lord God to the serpent/tempter: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” This is part of God’s Berith (covenant) with humanity. God intended to give to woman an offspring who would do battle with the serpent/evil and would defeat Satan. This verse is considered to be the Proto-evangel – the first promise in the bible of the Good News of the birth of a child who would be involved in our salvation.

The Lord to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:3) A promise of universal salvation through the seed of Abraham – all families on earth will be blessed through Abrahams line.

God’s Berith (covenant) is given as a blessing for all mankind: “These are the terms of the covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make….. Moses said, ‘See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.‘” (Deut 30:15-20)

The Isaiah birth prophecy: For unto a child is born, unto us a son is given (Isaiah 9:6). The prophecy fulfilled, the Berith accomplished by God, the blessing for all the world.

Baptism – the sign of the New Berith (covenant), the blessing from God – a birth to new life.

Next The ABC’s of Why We Need Christmas: C     Creation and Covenant