Sermon Outline

by Walter E. Miller, Westfield United Methodist Church, Westfield, Illinois

St Nicholas Window
Grace Episcopal Cathedral
Topeka, Kansas, USA
The Second Sunday in Advent, Dec. 9, 2018
Scripture: The Revised Common Lectionary, Year C
2nd Sunday of Advent (more verses than in the Lectionary)
Nicene Creed earlier in service

Malachi 3:1-6
Luke 3:2-9

Santa Claus, aka Saint Nicholas, had a feast day on Thursday, traditionally assumed he died on Dec. 6, 343 AD. Since I'll be sharing about him more later, here are the basic assumed facts.

  1. Lived in Southern Turkey, - Mediterranean Climate!
  2. Rich parents died while young, leaving him a great fortune and being raised by his uncle. Long journey to becoming a Christian, possibly including visiting Jerusalem and brief time at monastery?
  3. Saved 3 girls from being sold into prostitution at a brothel, by their poor father, because he could not provide money for a dowry to have them married - different culture…
  4. Saved 3 falsely accused sailors from being beheaded by running thru town and grabbing the sword out of the executioners hands right before he was to strike.
  5. Gained more favor from sailors, by taking wheat from ships. He promised that the full measure would be there when they got to destination, and it was, gaining praise from even the emperor. Additionally, thru the whole famine, the wheat he stored continued to provide for the whole city of Myra without diminishing.
  6. Was imprisoned and tortured for being a Christian, but released before death when Constantine became emperor and declared tolerance toward Christians.
  7. Was claimed he endured pinching by hot pliers. A 2014 reconstruction of his face from x-rays and measurements of his skull revealed he also had a broken nose. Measurements taken in 1950s when restoring tomb.
  8. Upon freedom, returned to Myra, and supernatural destruction of Artemis' temple, as foundation stones ended on top of rubble, and the pinnacle stones were driven deep into the ground.
  9. Became Bishop (Ordained?) without serving as a Deacon OR a Priest first. (1 of 3 known - St. Ambrose and St. Severus) When the previous Bishop died, other Bishops met to pray for the next Bishop of Myra. One bishop heard a voice at night, telling him to watch the doors in the morning for the 1st Nicholas to enter, and ordain him. Nicholas was the first person to the church. The Bishop addressed him, "Nicholas, servant and friend of God, for your holiness you shall be Bishop of this place."
  1. The Way = Prepare it!
    1. What is the WAY? …Jesus said, "I am the…"
    2. The Coming of Jesus
      1. Birth
      2. Return
  2. WHY prepare the Way??
    1. To Flee the Wrath to Come! - (Luke 3)
    2. God is coming near to us for Judgment! - (Malachi)/
    3. Certain people will instantly be judged:
      1. sorcerers - seek wisdom from other spirits
      2. adulterers -sexually unfaithful to spouse (even thoughts)
      3. perjurers -Liars, esp. those who do so under oath
      4. defraud workers of wages - Thieves
      5. Oppress widows & orphans - Bullies to lesser in society
      6. deprive aliens of justice - Not free ride… BUT, not giving fair chance at normal rights & laws we enjoy either.
      7. do not fear the Lord… NOT putting JESUS FIRST!

      *** St. Nicholas Day 1907. December of 1907 was worst month in US mine history, as over 3000 died that month.
            On Dec. 19, St. Nicholas feast Day for GREEK Catholic Christians in America, the Darr mine officials demanded that all men show up for work, even though it was a major holiday for them. The men refused to work on this holiday, even though the work was rare and money was low. The mine usually had over 400 workers, but 200+ went to Liturgy services instead on that day with their families. Other workers came in from nearby towns. That day, a large explosion happened and killed 239 men and boys.
            Religious devotion spared the lives of over 200, because they chose worshiping God over wealth in this world…They chose to live in the Fear of the Lord.
            Not terror, but honoring God as most important.

  3. HOW do we prepare the WAY???
    Mountains, Valleys, and roads
    =Try walking to Oregon: Cross the Rockies, Grand Canyon, deer trails…
    1. Mountains & hills made low
      1. What is impossible for you to move?
      2. What stands imposingly in your way?
      3. Fears, large tasks, addictions, people????
    2. Valleys filled in
      1. Where do you feel empty?
      2. What is the pain that you are scared to face?
      3. Broken relationships with spouse, kids, parents?
      4. Grief that you are afraid to face and walk thru?
    3. What roads in your life are crooked?

      ***Reminds me of Billy in "Family Circus." This isn't an actual cartoon example, but I created this, similar to a combination of ones I read growing up:
            MOM: "Take this cup of sugar across street to neighbor."
            Billy gets distracted by: making a snow angel, playing catch with a stray dog, climbs a tree to chase a squirrel, has a snowball fight with friends walking by, makes a snowman with other friends, & 20 other things. 2-3 hours later he gets the sugar to the neighbor lady, who has given up and already borrowed sugar from a different neighbor to make her Christmas cookies.

      1. How do we get distracted from seeking God?
      2. Too busy chasing OUR ways, instead of Yahweh?
      3. Worrying about making sure Christmas party is just perfect?
      4. Too busy to pray? -More than just a speedy & shallow moment?
      5. Think we don't need fellowship of church, can just seek God on our own? (Forsaking the gathering together)
  4. If Jesus showed up today, what would you say???
    1. I'm not ready yet, can you come back later???
    2. Excuses???
  5. JOLLY Old Saint Nicholas?
    1. Council of Nicea, Constantine to unify Christian teachings
    2. Arius from Egypt: Gnostic who spoke convincingly @ beliefs
    3. Basic Gnostic beliefs:
      1. God's Word is limited. Truth based on mythical, "secret knowledge." Bible is a product of man, not of God.
      2. Jesus - Gnostic Revealer, ordinary man that gains the secret knowledge (gnosis) {and possibly marries Mary Magdalene}
      3. person made of 2 parts:
        1. Spirit (good) = lead to asceticism
        2. body (evil) = reckless licentiousness
      4. Salvation by enlightenment
      5. No Resurrection, instead= reincarnation
      6. Ignorance is problem, not sin
        = { 5.B.1-6) }
    4. Many of 300+ Bishops at the council had endured torture
    5. Some limped, had eyes removed, &/or lost fingers/limbs
      -{Seminary notes}
    6. ***
    7. As Arius continued to talk at Council, Nicholas could no longer hold in irritation to Arius' heresy...
      1. He walked up to Arius
      2. And (slapped or punched?) him in the mouth/face!
    8. Jolly St. Nick was removed from council, at least temporarily
  6. Are we producing fruit worthy of repentance toward Christ??
    1. Would we rather sing, "Jolly old saint Nicholas, lean your ear this way… ..tell me what you'll give to me, tell me if you can!"
    2. Or, "flee the wrath to come" and be producing fruit for Jesus?
    3. I may never say anything that Nicholas would want to punch me in the mouth for, because I try to stay faithful in preaching doctrine. We might disagree on details, but not at the same level as Arius.
    4. BUT, would he want to kick me in the rear end???
      -Am I producing FRUIT? Or just singing & living nonsense?
  7. Are you walking THE WAY that leads to Truth and Life?
    [-Invitation to prayer, and commitment…]

By the Rev. Walter E. Miller, Westfield United Methodist Church, Westfield, Illinois. Used by permission.

back to top