Sunday sermon 21 December 2014 – children of God

Reading – John 1:1-14

MESSAGE

John 1:11-14  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Whose son are you? Who do you belong to? To whom do you belong? Whose child are you?

In the movies people are often labelled as son of a something or other! You can use your imagination – especially if you are a cowboy movie fan.

We’re a funny old community – those of us who have made New Zealand as our home. Very strange really.

It’s a bicultural nation. Made up of people of the land, and people of the treaty.

It’s fast becoming one of the most multi-cultural places to live, especially in this city.

So you often have to write down your ethnicity, when you fill in various forms. And that too makes no sense, because of the fact that you may be recognised as an ethnic European who was born in Africa, for example. And a permanent resident here.

John’s gospel today divides the world into two different groups. Listen to verse 11 and 12:John 1:11  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. John 1:12  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…

  • His own – who did not receive him. Jesus was Hebrew, Semitic, born into a Jewish family.
  • Those who received and believed – who become children of God.

This new family identity does not depend on ethnicity or language, or even citizenship or permanent residence.

Verse 13 continues: John 1:13  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

A Spiritual birth. A spiritual identity. That’s the key.

In Chapter 3 John records the words of Jesus as follows: John 3:3  In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

A better translation is this from the NRSV: Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 

“Above”  – refers to God of course – we are to be His children.

Who are you then? Who do you belong to? Which of these two categories? Those who receive Him or those who don’t?

If you haven’t figured that out – this is a good time to do so!

Christmas carols tell the story well.

O little town of Bethlehem – a favourite by Phillips Brooks – has these lines:

How silently, how silently

The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

And then there’s this great carol by Charles Wesley:

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Whose child are you? This last verse refers both to resurrection life and new birth!

When you’ve figured that out – then your life’s purpose is redefined – things can never be the same again.

What wonderful news this Christmas! What a wonderful faith!

Amen.

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About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on December 23, 2014, in Sunday Morning Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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