Isaiah 61:1-4

John 1:6-8, 19-28

Christmas Profits Or Christmas Prophets?

Advent 3

December 17 2017

            We are now well into our celebration of Advent – and our preparations for Christmas.  For many people the Christmas season is about shopping and the merchants are sure to tap into the shopping sprees. I guess the Holiday Shopping Season really begins the day after Thanksgiving with it’s early store hours and sales even though many stores decorate and begin promoting Holiday gifts well before that.  For many people the month of December is about making a profit. Stores depend on their Holiday sales to make their year profitable. Advertisements fill our newspapers and our mailboxes. Yes, the Christmas Season is filled with busy schedules and shopping, shopping, and more shopping. And the merchants hope it is filled with profits, profits, and more profits.

            But in the Church we are not in the Season of Christmas yet, we are still in the Season of Advent. Advent is a time for promise, for hope, for anticipation, and for preparing for the coming of God, even the coming of Christ, who touches our lives with God’s mysterious love and compels us to have our lives changed by that love. Advent is a time for seeing how God comes to us in mysterious, marvelous, exciting, and life-changing ways, not just with the baby in the manger so many years ago but also here and now.        We are not playacting during Advent. We are not pretending to be people who are waiting for the Messiah to come. We know that God has come to us in Christ and has made His love known to us in surprising ways. But sometimes we have to take the time to stop and remember what this season is really all about. Sometimes we miss the important fact that God continues to come to us in ways that are just as surprising as a baby in a manger. Sometimes we become so consumed in the world’s celebration of Christmas that we miss the continued work of God in the world and we fail to join in that work and fail to call for different lives and a different world.

            So while the month of December in the “real world” may be a time that the merchants hope is filled with profits, profits, and more profits, for us the Advent Season needs to be a time filled with prophets, prophets, and more prophets.

            Now it may seem that I just said the same thing. Let me explain. For the merchants Christmas may be a time for profits –P R O F I T S. For us as Christians it needs to be a time for prophets – P R O P H E T S. For us as Christians it needs to be a time filled with prophets, prophets, and more prophets. Prophets that can help us have our vision renewed and help us see God and God’s work in the world in a new way.  It is a time for prophets that can help us allow the coming of God into our world make a difference in our lives so that we too can be prophets, showing God’s work and will to others in all we say and do. 

Christmas can be a time for profits – PROFITS – but it can also be a time for  prophets – PROPHETS. Prophets like Isaiah and John the Baptist – but also prophets like you and me.  Advent is a time for prophets. Christmas is a time for prophets.

            Many of us may contribute to the sounds of the profits – PROFITS  — at the local stores and even online at the many web sites, but do many of us contribute to the voices of the prophets – PROPHETS – who try to point us to God and the true reason for what we do?

            John was a prophet. So was Isaiah. Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian minister and author, writes that prophets never have an easy time in life. 

“There is no evidence to suggest” Buechner sarcastically writes  “that anyone ever asked a prophet home for supper more than once.  In fact, no prophet is on record as ever having applied for the job.”  John was a prophet. He was a man with a mission, and his mission was to tell people of the coming of Christ into the world, indeed the coming of God into the world, and to call people to make their lives ready for Christ. John knew his mission and he carried it out well, but it didn’t make him popular.  Many people didn’t want to hear John or see Christ.   They were too interested in protecting their own ideas and opinions of how things should be to see that God was among them,  that something new was happening and life could no longer be “business as usual”.  They were too worried about their own profits to listen to this prophet. Many were missing the new life John offered all together.  They had no interest in hearing John or seeing Christ because John’s message and Christ’s work would mean change for them and they liked things the way they were.  They didn’t want to let John’s message change their lives and they definitely were not interested in seeing Christ. But John saw and understood and proclaimed that God was at work in a new way in the world. God was at work in the world through Christ, who showed God’s will for justice, love, righteousness and  for peace, ways that would change the way things were into the way God would have them to be. This understanding and proclamation did not make John very popular but he kept on understanding and proclaiming, for he was a prophet.  He was an Advent Prophet. He was a  Christmas Prophet. He was a Prophet who was committed to working for God’s will in the world and  proclaiming that God has come into the world through Jesus Christ to change the world.

       Christmas can be a time for profits – PROFITS – but it also should be a time for is a time for prophets – PROPHETS.

            Here’s a question for you today: as you help the merchants with their profits this season, are you also being a prophet for God and God’s work in the world?  

Are we prophets — PROPHETS? We celebrate Christmas but does the fact that God has come into our world through Christ really make a difference in how we live our lives?  Does it make any real difference to us at all? 

            Do we let Christ truly change our lives?  Do we see how Christ can and does make a difference in the world and proclaim how the coming of Christ can change  the world? Or is Christmas simply a time for us to somehow just nod at the manger and the birth of Christ as we rush about our busy lives, too caught up in the things of the world to see and experience and proclaim the things of God?

            Are you a Christmas Prophet?  Christ has come. God has come into our world.  Christ is among us. The work of God is among us.  But do you see Christ? Does it make a difference to you that Christ has come into the world?

            John and Isaiah were prophets.  They saw and experienced and proclaimed that God was at work in their world and things could be completely changed for God’s glory. 

What about you?      

            Are you a Christmas Prophet – PROPHET– seeing and experiencing and proclaiming to the world that things can be different because Christ has come?

            You need to let the messages of John sink in.  Christ is among us and our lives and our world can be changed.  Let Christ change the way you live.  Understand your need for Christ and for salvation. Understand your need for the new life Christ offers.  Then be a prophet. Tell the world their need for Christ. Tell others their need for the salvation Christ offers. Tell others of that healing,  wholeness and peace Christ offers. Be a Christmas Prophet. Don’t just talk about people’s need for the life of salvation, healing  and wholeness Christ offers but see yourself as being a Prophet – one who sent, as Isaiah put it it, to 

            See the needs all around you and do what you can to meet them with God’s amazing and life changing love. Dare to go against the grain of those only interested in keeping things the way they are, making profits or helping others make a profit and declare that there is much more to this season that just profits — PROFITS.  There can also be prophets – PROPHETS. People who point to God’s amazing and life changing love and lead others to it.  It may not be what the world wants to hear,  in fact it probably won’t be.  It may not make you very popular.  You may confront the way people live and it may not make them uncomfortable  but  you will be seeing and proclaiming God and the real message of Christmas to the world. You will be a prophet.  Let’s all be prophets, calling for all to repent and believe in Christ, being about God’s work by reaching out to the poor, working for and calling for peace when others are working for and calling for conflict, giving to others instead of keeping so much for ourselves, feeding those who are hungry, warming those who are cold, proclaiming that Christ is among us and that the world will never be the same again. Amen.