[Christianity is a thoroughly eschatological faith, no matter what some contemporary would-be retrievers of the "historical Jesus" may claim. Yet eschatology always has been a tough topic for preachers. Advent is the supremely eschatological, apocalyptic season. Thus, the following is my attempt to preach eschatology in this sermon preached at in a Duke chapel sermon.]
The 6-year-old kids in their Sunday School class were re-enacting the story of the birth of Jesus. The teacher wanted them to stage it themselves based on their own made-up script, so it was certainly interesting. They had three Marys, two Josephs, six shepherds, two wise guys and one boy who played the cow. Another boy decided he would be the doctor who would deliver the baby. The teacher consented, so the little doctor went back behind the manger, picked up the doll and carefully wrapped him in a blanket. Then with a big smile on his face, he turned to the Marys and the Josephs and said, "Congratulations, it's a God!"
In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer made the following observation: "It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply." To put it another way, God cannot do much with people who have not passed through a time of suffering, sickness, sacrifice or struggle. How can we be a blessing to people who are going through the hardships of life if we ourselves somehow have been exempted from such hardships?
What did the angels mean when they spoke of "peace on earth?" In this Christmas sermon, Rev. McMickle shares three characteristics of peace: that it can only come from God, that it cannot be experienced by a single person or by a certain group of persons if, at the same time, it is being denied or withheld from others, and that it must begin with me!