Last month my wife Heather began leading an Advent-themed study during the Sunday School hour. The study, entitled “Down to Earth” was written by two United Methodist pastors to help Christians reclaim the radical implications of God becoming a man and living in this messy place we call planet Earth.
While we didn’t plan for the Sunday school material to coordinate with the preaching during Advent and Christmas, it is, perhaps, a work of the Holy Spirit that the sermon series I have planned for this Christmas has a similar theme. As I was reading the Christmas stories from the lectionary for this year, I was struck by the dramatic nature of the events that occurred as a result of Jesus’ birth. Masses of heavenly beings appeared in the sky, foreigners observed extraordinary astrological phenomena, a king was threatened, baby boys were massacred… and all of this because a refugee boy was born to unwed parents in a barn. Yet somehow, this boy’s young mother could express in poetic song how her unborn Son was turning the world upside-down: "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:52–53)
By coming "down to earth,” God worked through the mundane to bring about salvation for the world. And God continues to do God’s extraordinary work through ordinary people like you and me. This is the irony of our Lord’s ways that we will explore in our “Upside-Down Christmas” series in worship. This Christmas, I pray we may all become more open to Jesus turning our lives upside-down for the sake of his mission.
Just as we did with Advent, we will begin observing the Christmas season two weeks early this year. This change enables us to give more attention to both the Advent and Christmas seasons and their impact on our spiritual life together. Below are the Scripture readings for the sermons in the month of December so you can prepare for worship.
December 4 Begin at the End Here Comes the Kingdom! Matthew 3:1-12 December 11 Upside-Down Christmas Matthew 2:1-12 December 18 Upside-Down Christmas Matthew 2:13-23 December 24 Upside-Down Christmas John 1:1-14 December 25 Upside-Down Christmas Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) January 1 Upside-Down Christmas Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)