Sermon Notes, Park Street Church - monday 2002-12-16 0717 last modified 2006-01-28 2333
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I'll attempt to be slightly more objective than my normal journal entry in my notes of the Park Street 4pm service sermon.

As this was the third week of Advent, Danny Harrell spoke about giving gifts in "Take It to the Bank" using Matthew 1:18-2:12. His end point, which he didn't start with, was an evangelical message. He used the passage right at the beginning to set up the general idea that Christmas gift giving is rooted in the magi's gifts to Jesus.

I'd like to take a brief break to give my impressions of what Christmas gift giving seems to entail, based on the examle of the magi. First, their gifts were incredibly expensive (I don't know how incredible 'incredibly' means though, any englightenment on the cost of white gold, frankincense, or myrrh would be appreciated). As an adjunct to this, they also came from far away at risk of robbery and bodily harm to deliver them. Second, their gifts were given to the Son of God. If anything was to be extrapolated from their example, and I don't know that there is, it would be to give until it hurts materially at any risk to God's Son -- or since He's not bodily present, to what He would want it to be given. Since one who celebrates Christmas is ostensibly Christian (...), such a one should already have given their life to Him. Anything material to be given to Him should probably be given to the care of those in need. But then again, that's all totally made up. The shepherds didn't bring Him anything but awe and worship.

Continuing sermon notes. Danny pointed out that the traditions of Christmas really have no Biblical basis, particularly the exchange of gifts between adults (trees, presents under the trees, and gifts to children all have some poorly explained roots). He talked about the tendency we have to try to match and compete about the gifts we give in relation to those we get, trying to be fair. He reduces the problem to one of guilt, or really pride, suggesting that if we just receive the gift, then we won't have any problems.

Taking another break, I suggest the problem is really rooted in greed, and if society eliminated the whole concept of Christmas gift exchanges, everybody might be better off.

Continuing. Harrell proceeded to tell a personal story which provided an excellent segue to his final point, but was otherwise strange. In an attempt to match someone's "piles of gifts" from the previous Christmas, he bankrupted himself and had to go to the bank to plea his case where, to his surprise, he found that the bank had completely covered his expenditures.

The end of the message was how Christ covers our costs no matter what our pride drives us to try to accomplish on our own. Even that sounds a little funny, seems to be what you get when a sermon is based on an anecdote. He ended with something about how we should come to God, and we'll find "piles of gifts." I found that to be a particularly poor choice of imagery to use at the end of a message given that it sounds a lot like wealth-evangelism - come to God, and He'll give you Stuff(TM).

I think I failed at the objectivity. Oh well. Christmas talk reminds me - where does the line about Jesus not crying come from in "Away in a Manger?" It's not in the account in Luke. Too bad the author is anonymous.


i think the "......

i think the "...but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes..." bit comes from the assertion that a baby's crying is evidence (or outcome, whatever) of their sin nature. and so, by extension, the same people asserted that Jesus, being without sin, didn't cry as an infant. i don't see it as a particularly important assertion (more of a theological diversion, really). while we've all seen older babies & toddlers who cry to get what they want (and who need to be spanked more... smack!), i would think that a newborn infant probably has some very good reasons to shriek, if only from shock (e.g., "my head just got squooshed real bad", and "what is all this air stuff in my lungs", and "where did all these lights come from").

i know what you mean about Park Street, too. it seems like they have more than their share of anecdotal sermons. to put it another way, you can forget to bring your Bible to the service, and you'll be just fine (and not just because there's Bibles in the pews... i forget whether they even have them there or not). anyway, different types, i guess, and it has been a while since i've attended there. but i did wish that they would get into the Bible more emphatically.

Matt Libby on December 17, 2002 03:04 AM

Now that you m...

Now that you mention it, I recall St. Augustine writing about his sin as a baby, crying out in complaint in Confessions, which I never actually finished. I found the things he considered sin, apart from rampant lust, to be comparatively odd. Of course, things were different 1900 years ago, but his interest in theatre and the aforementioned infant tantrums seemed to get drawn out as he described his life before Christ.

There are Bibles in the pews, I think. I don't know, Park Street was the neutral church I knew wouldn't bother me because I don't expect much unless it's Hugenburger in the pulpit. He's only one of two men I've come across in my brief life who was willing to talk about psalmists asking God to dash babies' skulls on rocks from the pulpit to an American congregation. Hopefully I'll find a new home soon enough.

Ryan Lee on December 18, 2002 04:14 AM

good journal mysnhu

ezcard info on March 20, 2020 04:55 PM

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