I hope that this Update finds you warm, safe, happy, and with power in your home (about half of Peoria is still without power as I type this). We had unseasonably warm weather last week, followed by an ice storm on Monday, followed by a light dusting of snow on Tuesday night. Frankly, Central Illinois looks just plain beautiful right now, but a ton of trees and branches are down... as well as a number of power lines and phone lines that had once been strung near them.
But don’t fear -- our church facility has power, so we’ll be able to host our annual FCC Family Game Night on New Year’s Eve this Thursday evening. If you’ve got some sort of fun game (and snack) to share, come join us for however long you want to stay. We’ll open the doors at 6:30 and I’ll be leaving at midnight. The last one in the building has to turn off the lights and lock the doors...
This past week, we had a beautiful Christmas Eve service. It’s always such a joy to be able to spend time together as a church family worshiping God on the evening that we traditionally celebrate Christ’s birth. And Kitty and Veronica Flanagan did a wonderful job of sharing just exactly the right heart when they lit the final Advent Candle -- the Christ Candle -- during the service. In the devotional, I even got to share a story that my father had shared earlier in the day with our family, before we sat down together for our family meal.
Then a few days later, on Sunday, we looked at our last message in our “Kingmaker” series, looking at how Jesus compares with the other kings that Israel had respected over the years. Their first king was God, but they weren’t satisfied with perfection -- they wanted someone who would impress the neighbors (i.e.; someone who would look the way the neighboring kings looked... but better). Their second king, Saul, looked like a king, but his heart was wrong. Then David’s heart was right, but he didn’t always use wisdom to decide what to do. Later, Solomon was the wisest man who’d ever lived (or ever would live), but his obedience to God was hampered by his baggage of sin and woundedness.
But then came Jesus -- with the right heart, and the wisdom of God, and the righteous perfection (and yet gracious forgiveness) that we desperately needed in a king. But since He didn’t look like a king, we ultimately decided that He couldn’t be a king, and we crucified Him. See, Jesus had only fulfilled most of the prophecies that the Messiah was supposed to fulfill, and people were frustrated that He hadn’t fulfilled the really juicy ones, like wiping the face of the Earth clean.
That’s what we talked about this week -- the end of the world. But don’t worry, because it really was a very perky sermon. See, for the Christian, the end of the world isn’t a scary thing -- it’s when the Good Guy finally, utterly wins. Jesus conquers Satan and sin and death and Hell, and remakes the world into what He’d always intended it to be, with God again as our King of kings. And then we can finally have the close, loving relationship with our Creator that He’d been wanting since that first chapter in Genesis, since He’d led His people out of Egypt as their true King, since He’d been honored by angels and shepherds and even wandering stars as an infant, since He’d ridden into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey like a king, since He’d been crowned by the Romans and lifted high with the label “King of the Jews” by the Romans, since He’d first come into your heart and filled you with His Spirit.
When all is said and done, at the end of time, no one who sees Him (not angels or saints or worldly kings or even Satan himself) could ever doubt that God is -- and always has been -- the true King of kings...