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Okay, the children’s part is over. Are there any adults? There are, good. Then let’s get to the adult’ s part of today’s service. Let’s talk like adults. First, we need to name the elephant in the room? Can anyone do that? I would put it in words like “wow, usually we don’t have that many people in our services”.
The truth is that this is almost the only time throughout the year when we have this joy to see so many of you. And … that is fine. The fact is that these are very challenging times for Christians in the West.
It is hard be to a Christian, it is a narrow path. Not too many have what it takes to be a follower of Jesus. It is much easier to choose the wide path. We all are free to choose what to do with this life that is given to us.
However, I want to challenge you to think – why so many choose to reject Jesus Christ? And I would suggest that it is to great extent because we don’t believe that all this Jesus thing is real.
But what is real? How real is anything in your life? How real is anything in this world? How real are our longings? We all long for many things, right? Some of these longings are very deep.
We long to be loved, to be accepted, to belong. We long to be somebody, to be valued and respected. We long for beauty, and joy and peace. We long for safety. We long for meaningful lives that are worth living.
Are these longings real? I would say ‘sure’. The question is – how can we satisfy these longings? The world offers many choices. And we usually choose those what we believe to be real. Often those are good things.
We may believe that we can satisfy these longings if we have a great career, or a business. And it’s true, they can bring great joy and satisfaction. One day. The other day they can bring us the worst headaches. You know it. But even if your career is perfect, that doesn’t give us all we want.
We may believe that if we can meet and marry the right person, or to have a family, then we would get what we truly desire. Maybe. It is a great blessing to find another person, that fits you, and to have a family.
It changes our lives. True. But again, no one is perfect. Not even the best person. You learn it quite quickly. And family life can be rather trying. Then you may wish ‘just give me a break’.
We may believe that if we only we could fulfil our dreams, whatever they are, then these longing would be fulfilled. Go for it! Fulfil your dreams! And as you do you will learn that they give you happiness and joy … for a while, but they still don’t deliver the depth of what our hearts long for.
Or we may believe that being free to do whatever we want, not being told by anyone, will give us true freedom and fulfilment. Good luck! You may go there just to find that what you long for in your hearts is not there.
Or you may believe that if only you try to be a good and moral person, things will fall into places and you will get there. It may be satisfying to strive to be good, but it also may lead into despair, it is a hard road.
The bottom line is this – if you have been around long enough you will admit that it is rather hard to find fulfilment to our deepest longings in this world.
Whatever this world advertises – do your own thing, travel where the heart leads, have sex, buy what you desire, be nice, party like there is no tomorrow – all of that is so … shallow. There is no depth. No lasting satisfaction.
But if our longings are real, then there must be some way to fulfil them, right?
There was a famous theologian named Augustin, and he said that we are created with God shaped hole in our hearts. And there will be unsatisfied longings until God Himself fills this hole.
Many of you don’t believe this whole Jesus thing is true and real. Fine. I can tell you what I believe. I believe that real is what corresponds to reality, what delivers, what satisfies our deepest longings, what you can experience.
I believe that Jesus is more real than anything else in this world. Much more real than this ever-changing world in which we live, with its everchanging ideas about how to be happy.
Jesus gives us His explanation about this world, and ourselves, which fits the reality better that any other explanation. It’s true. Our God gives us wisdom how to live our lives that leads to better and more satisfactory experiences that any other way. It’s true. Everyone can test it.
Our God reveals us the most beautiful view on who we as human beings are. Not meaningless mutations, or poor souls trapped in these bodies, but wonderful beings created in God’s own image and likeness.
Meaning, that you are God’s own representatives here on earth, infinitely precious in His eyes. He has created each one of you to live in close and trusting relationships with Him. He longs for us, and we long for Him, even if we don’t realize that. He invites us to experience His presence, His joy, His wisdom. I say ‘to experience’, for that is how it works. He is as real as it can be.
Sure, right now we are separated from God. And we also live in this broken world, full of foolishness, and arrogance and selfishness. You know it. This is, why we can’t find lasting satisfaction to our deepest longings. But it can be found. In fact, it is promised to everyone who is willing to receive it as a gift.
It is found in our God, it is found through Jesus, the Son of God, who became one of us two millennia ago, so that only He could bring you back to where you truly belong, with Him.
Besides, He is the only one who truly knows you. He is the only one, who can fulfil your deepest longings. For you are created to live with Him, not without Him. And you don’t know what true love is, if you haven’t experienced Jesus unconditional love towards you.
You don’t know how precious you are, if you don’t know what your God has done and has prepared for you. You don’t know how meaningful, joyful and adventurous your life can be, if you don’t know Jesus.
You may not believe that what I say is real, but He is the ultimate answer to all our deepest longings. He speaks to you right now and invites you, come and try! He longs for you, and He is waiting for you.
Every year He uses this celebration of Jesus’ birth to remind to the world about what is real. Everything else comes and goes. Everything changes. Our time runs out. You know it.
But Jesus Christ remains the same. His invitation remains. His promises remain. And He will not turn away anyone who comes to Him, whoever you are.
As you leave this evening, be honest with yourself, think – what is truly real, and what kind of life you would like to have – may be the one where you are loved beyond your wildest imagination…