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“Do We Need a Sign?”

Sermon: “Do We Need a Sign?”

Rev. Glenn G. Grant

Kirkridge Presbyterian Church

Transcription from December 18th, 2022

Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors

For some reason, when I was going through the scriptures for today, I kept getting this image of Jeff Foxworthy. Here's your sign. Okay. Now I know who has any idea of who Jeff Foxworthy is, because you all just snickered. Jeff Foxworthy is a comedian if you don't know, and one of his routines is, here's your sign!

Oh, that's Bill Envgall. That's right. Not Jeff Foxworthy. Right? Yes. Blue Collar Comedy Tour, wrong comedian. Bill Engvall. So, here's your sign. Well, you think about that. We got this time of year, there's signs all over the place. It started, you know, back as soon as they got the Halloween stuff pushed over to one aisle at Walmart.

So that was what, two weeks before Halloween, that they started putting out the Christmas stuff. I don't know what happened to Thanksgiving, but anyway. There are those signs. There are the signs with young children, you know, making out that list. Maybe it's not just the young children, sometimes it's the oldest children too.

And of course, there's all kinds of other signs. We've got decorations are signs, and sometimes we see all the signs and we wish things would go away. And sometimes we see all the signs of what is called Christmas by society and we wonder where the signs are of what Christmas really is.

And then you get all those other things, you know, uh, the Hallmark movies start coming on tv. Or some of the other channels that start running Christmas movies. And of course, you know the old thing about the Christmas movie is you always have this city slicker guy that goes back to some small town for some reason and ends up losing his girl to a guy in a flannel shirt. Or else they rediscover that they like wearing flannel shirts or some such twist on that, and it's a sign of what Christmas is?

What Christmas is. Is that really what Christmas is? You know, here we are in the fourth week of Advent, we're supposed to have been preparing ourselves for the coming of Christmas, and we've done a great job of preparing ourselves for the commercial Christmas, the societal Christmas. Isaiah this morning, in our scripture was talking about people, particularly King Ahaz, that was hoping for God's help.

And God says, ask me for a sign. You know, a lot of your predecessors have asked me for a sign, and King Ahaz of course says, I'm not gonna ask you for a sign. Which we can interpret as saying he really was hoping for a sign. You know, God says, ask me for a sign, he's saying, well, I don't need to ask you you're gonna give me one anyway. Right?

Of course, the next part of that passage is, why are you worrying and tiring God over these things? I'm going to give you a sign, and that is the prophecy of things to come. I'm going to give you a sign, and this day and age, we don't necessarily buy into prophecies, you know? I know some people do buy the tabloids at the grocery store, checkout. I'm sure there's a lot of people that look at them that don't buy them. They just look at them while they're waiting in line, then put 'em back. But you know, you always see this thing about what Nostradamus said is going to happen in 2023. We say we don't buy into this prophecy business, but we do. We do. We always want to know what's going on in the future. Otherwise, economists would be broke because nobody would pay any attention to what they said about what's gonna happen in the future.

So, we have this love hate relationship with signs. You know, we want signs to tell us where we're going, and we want 'em to say, this is your exit. This is where you need to turn. Stop. We want that stop sign so that the people on the other road have it, so they can stop, and we can keep right on going. We want signs, but we don't want to ask God for a sign.

You know? Because people that ask God for a sign, if they admit to having gotten one, and they tell anybody if they're deemed crazy. Yeah, right. God gave you a sign. Mm-hmm.

And yet, in the Christian faith our entire life, faith life is built around God giving us a sign. Emmanuel God with us. And we're not so sure what to do with that. We say we are; we say we are good with what to do with, you know, with God, being with us, with Emmanuel, but are we really? I don't know how many people watch the news before they, you know, in the morning as they're getting ready to come to church. But of course, one of the big stories on the news right now is about the immigrant issue on the southern border, and we have a whole lot of people in this country that don't think we should be allowing any immigrants into this country. At the same time, they claim to be Christians, and right now they're going to church and hearing about immigrants, refugees.

You know, we have to remember that Mary and Joseph were refugees. They had to go to Bethlehem, and then after Jesus was born, they had to go to Egypt to escape threats on their life. Here's your sign.

We say that we want to help the poor, but don't, don't ask me to give up any of my comfort to do it. Here's your sign.

We say that we want a world filled with peace and love and hope. But what are we doing to bring that to happen?

What are we really doing to make it happen? We send Christmas cards saying the joy of the season. Peace, have a peaceful new year, or a happy new year. The hope of the season be with you. And that's what we're doing.

And yet that's not what our faith tells us we should be doing. Our faith tells us we should be actively working to bring about peace. Actively working to show the love of Christ to others. When people look at us, do they see the love of Christ?

We should be actively working to bring joy into other people's lives. And are we doing that? If we're not, do we need a bigger sign?

Many years ago when we were back in Winchester, we were doing the production of guys and dolls. And guys and dolls, if you don't know, is a musical that staged in New York City, and we had this wonderful set. We had a backdrop that was painted to look like, uh, right down the main drag times square and everything in New York City. We had signs hanging from the bars above the stage. Well, during the production, one of those signs fell, just missing a couple of the actors.

Was that a sign? It was a sign to me because I was a set designer, and that meant I had missed something about how well that was supposed to be hooked up there. But there was something else that happened when that sign fell. Two of the young men that were in the play calmly picked up, we had one of those road barriers on set, and they just calmly picked up the road barrier and put it across in front of the sign that fell and kept right on going with their lines and their blocking and the show.

And that is a sign about what we are also supposed to be doing as Christians is that when things like that, that are unseen, that could ruin everything happen, that we need to put that aside, put up your caution and just keep right on going, doing what God wants you to do.

Here is your sign. So, what are we doing as we go through this week, and we have these last few days before Christmas, and then we have 12 days of Christmas. What are we doing during that time period that brings a sign to others that really is showing what Christmas is all about. What it means when we say Emmanuel, you know, we sing the songs with that word in it, but what does it really mean when we say Emmanuel, God with us?

Do we need a bigger sign and are we being a sign to others? That's the question for us to, every single day. Are we the sign that someone else needs to see? Emmanuel. Amen.

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