Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church, December 24, 2017, for the 7:00 pm and 11.00 pm services
“7 Christmas Messages Often Preached – But You Don’t Want to Hear”
Scripture: Luke 2:8-20 and Isaiah 9:2,6-7
It’s Christmas Eve! The sanctuary is beautifully decorated. Christmas carols have been sung. Someone has read the wondrous Christmas story that begins, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken…” (Luke 2:1). The faces of many visitors, friends and family of church members fill the pews. But before you can participate in the highlight of the evening by holding your candle and singing “Silent Night, Holy Night,” the preacher must ramble on for a while. What will he say this year? It’s difficult for a preacher to deliver a Christmas Eve sermon which encapsulates the amazing reality of the Christmas story.
As a preacher for 42 Christmases, I am keenly aware that most people in church on Christmas Eve have not come to hear me. Based on my long track record, I must confess that I’ve listened, read and delivered some unusual messages on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, Christmas Eve sermons can be more about the preacher’s anxiety than about the story of Jesus. In my preparations for this evening’s sermon, I reflected on the typical Christmas Eve messages and realized there are 7 you do not want to hear. They tend to promote these themes:
- The “Come Back to Church” sermon: This message is directed at visitors, irregular-attending church members, the kids and grandkids of the regulars. The pastor stresses the importance of Jesus’ birth and the commitment that follows. The Church is described as a pretty cool place to hang out, or at least not so bad as to be avoided. The preacher tries hard to be welcoming, but often comes across as a lonely person in need of friends….
Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church, December 24, 2017
“The Gospel According to the Wise Men”
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12 and Isaiah 9:1-7
What began your journey to Jesus? What was that moment or person, the song or tragedy, which turned your life Christ-ward? For me, it occurred when I was fourteen years of age and singing in the choir at a Billy Graham crusade in Boston. After listening to Dr. Graham’s message, I felt moved to go forward and commit my life to Jesus Christ. Admittedly, I had little understanding what it meant to be a disciple of Christ – but my journey had begun. It has been a long, blessed journey.
My observation about people who decide to follow Christ is that they generally fall into one of three categories: (1) those who have heard about Jesus most of their life. Over the years, they have gradually deepened their understanding and commitment to following Him as Savior and Lord. Their decision to follow Christ involves a journey which takes years to finish. Most people sitting here have traveled down this path ….
Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church, December 17, 2017
“Our Suffering and the Cross”
Fifth of five sermons on ‘The Meaning of Christ’s Cross’
Scripture: Job 1:13-22 and 1 Peter 4:12-16
The painful reality of human suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith. The frequency, degree and unjust distribution of suffering causes peopel to ask how suffering can be reconciled with God’s love and justice.
On Sunday, November 1,1755, Lisbon Portugal was devastated by an earthquake. Within six minutes 18000 buildings were destroyed, including thirty churches, and 90,000people killed. One of the many people stunned by this disaster was the French philosopher Voltaire. He questioned the devastating injustice of such a tragedy in his Poem on the Disaster of Lisbon,which asked why, if God is free, just all-powerful and benevolent, do humans suffer under His rule? Voltaire was probing the familiar conundrum that God is either not good or not almighty. Either God wants to stop suffering but cannot, or God could but will not. Whichever it is, how can we worship God?…
Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church, December 10, 2017
“Loving Your Enemy Under the Cross”
Fourth of five sermons on ‘The Meaning of Christ’s Cross’
Scripture: Proverbs 25:21-22 and Matthew 5:43-48
Mosab Hassan Yousef grew up a Muslim. From an early age he studied the Quran, prayed five times daily, and followed Islam as faithfully as he could. In that respect, he was typical of many young men growing up in a Palestinian town on the West Bank. His father was one of the founders of Hamas, the radical terrorist organization.
Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church, December 3, 2017
“Living Under the Cross”
Third of five sermons on ‘The Meaning of Christ’s Cross’
Scripture: Revelation 4:2-11 and Colossians 1:15-23
In professional tennis matches, the ball moves so quickly that players have to swing at it before their conscious minds have time to process what’s happening. I read an article about how winning tennis players are able to compete at such a fast pace. It explained that through thousands of hours of practice they learn to recognize subtle signs given off by their opponents, and fine-tune their reflexes to instantly respond.
The same is true in today’s battle of ideas. Our mass-media culture constantly fires false worldviews at us which are contrary to God’s Word. If we don’t know how to recognize these false worldviews and respond quickly enough, we risk being captured by their hollow and deceptive ideas (Colossians 2:8). …
Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church, November 19, 2017
“The Achievement of the Cross”
Second of five sermons on the ‘Meaning of Christ’s Cross’
Scripture: Isaiah 53:4-12 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church, November 12, 2017
“The Heart of the Cross”
First of five sermons on the ‘Meaning of Christ’s Cross’
Scripture: Psalm 103:8-14 and 1 Peter 2:21-24
I invite you to examine a painting by Holman Hunt entitled ‘The Shadow of Death.’ (Copies attached to manuscript.) It depicts the inside of a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth. Stripped to the waist, Jesus stands by a wooden trestle into which He has placed His saw. He is lifting His eyes toward Heaven, and the look on His face is either pain or ecstasy, or both. As He does so, the evening sunlight streaming through the open door casts a shadow on the wall behind Him. The shadow is the form of a cross, with the tool-rack portraying a crossbeam. At His feet lies a red headband, symbolizing the blood-soaked crown of thorns which one day would be shoved unto His head.
Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church on October 22, 2017
“Sola Gratia: Grace Alone”
Last of five sermons on the Reformation’s Principles
Scriptures: Ephesians 2:1-10 and Psalm 51:9-13
“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”
“Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin; how shall my tongue
describe it, where shall its praises begin?”
Christians love to sing about the saving “grace of God” – and rightly so. The Gospel of John tells us that from Jesus, “… we have all received grace” (1:16). Many of the Apostle Paul’s letters begin and end with him expressing his desire that the “grace of Jesus” will fill God’s people (Rom. 1:5,7; 16:20,24; 1 Cor. 1:3-4; 16:23; 2 Cor. 1:2; 13:14; Gal. 1:3; 6:18; Eph. 1:2, 6-7; 4:23; Philp. 1:2; 4:23; Col. 1:2; 4:18). The very last words of the Bible read: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with God’s people. Amen” (Rev. 22:21).
Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church on October 15, 2017
“Sola Deo Gloria: Glory to God Alone”
Fourth of five sermons on the Reformation’s Principles
Scriptures: Exodus 33:12-23 and Romans 11:33-36
On May 7, 2000, Rev. James Boice entered the pulpit of the famous Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for the final time of his 32-year ministry there. He died of cancer one month later (June 15, 2000). He addressed the matter of how his congregation should pray for him with these words: “Above all, I would say pray for the glory of God.” When a memorial plaque was created for him, it displayed our Scripture text from Romans 11:36: “To God be the glory forever! Amen!”
READ: Romans 11:33-36
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote a long discourse on the subject of salvation from chapters 1 -11. He presented the problem of sin for a righteous God (1:1-3:20); the solution of faith in the work of Christ on the Cross (3:20- 8:39); with an appendix about Israel’s place in God’s plan (9:1-11:32). His discussion concludes with a doxology of praise