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OH HOLY NIGHT: THE SOUL FELT ITS WORTH  Matthew 6:25-34

The year was 1847.  A priest in a small town in France went to his friend whose name was Placide Cappeau.  He asked him to write a song for Christmas Eve mass.  So, in 1847, in a horse-drawn carriage on his way to Paris, Placide Cappeau composed the poem that we now know as O Holy Night.  He had the words, but didn’t have a melody, so he approached his friend who was a composer.  He happened to be a Jewish man.  He asked him to write a melody for that great hymn we now sing every Christmas.  So in 1847 at Christmas Eve mass, this little church in France, for the very first time, sings this great, epic hymn O Holy Night.  Shortly thereafter, Placide Cappeau decided he was going to leave the church and joined the socialist movement in France.  The church had this wrestling, this tension, that they had to enter into.  What are we going to do with this great hymn that this now apostate man has written?  So they outlawed the hymn.  They refused to let it be sung in their liturgy.  For a decade the hymn was kept alive by the French common folk, but it wasn’t sung in liturgy until 1857 when a man named John Sullivan Dwight got ahold of this song.  John Sullivan Dwight was an abolitionist in America, in the United States, in the North.  He heard the line in that hymn: “Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.”  He grabbed onto this hymn and the church, especially in the northern part of the United States, started to sing this hymn.  Their declaration was if Jesus has come and He’s freed humanity, who are we to keep people enslaved.  The hymn was used to slowly, but surely, break down the chains that we’d grown so fond of as a country.

Fast forward a few more years to 1906.  There’s a man named Reginald Fessenden, a former colleague of Thomas Edison.  He was in his office one evening experimenting with a microphone and a telegraph.  He didn’t know if anything was coming through, but he decided to give it a try.  What he did was begin reading his Bible from Luke chapter 2.  He started to read: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered…..  It goes on to talk about the birth of Christ and glory to God and peace on earth to whom His favor rests.  For the very first time, voices were heard over the radio waves.  Can you imagine, ships in the open sea that were used to hearing only dot-dot-dash-dash-dash now hear in those days a decree went out…..  Reginald Fessenden decided that was good, but he pulled back from reading Luke 2 and he picked up his violin and he started to play.  Any guesses what the first song EVER played over the radio waves was??  Jingle Bells, of course!  No, O Holy Night.   Can you imagine, on your ship in the open sea, hearing for the very first time, not just voice, but music coming through?!  It was this song, at that point now famous song, that declared the worth of humanity.  That declared the value of people that said chains shall He break.  Listen to the words of this beautiful Christmas hymn: O holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.  Long lay the world in sin and error pining {Just trapped. That’s what he wants to communicate.} Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.  A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn {This is the dawning of a new day.  Not just a baby being born, but a redefinition, a re-invitation of what it means to be human.} Fall on your knees, O hear the angels’ voices…..Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother. And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, With all our hearts we praise His holy name.  

What a rich hymn!  We were singing this hymn last Christmastime and I thought to myself, “That would make a great Christmas series!”  Today I want to wrestle with, dwell on, and think through this reality that when He appeared the soul felt its worth.  Next week, we’ll wrestle with the idea that His law is love.  The following week we’ll work through what it means that in His name all oppression shall cease.  And finally on Christmas Eve, we’re just going to soak in the thrill of hope that the Savior brings.  So today, the soul felt its worth.  My guess is you had some sort of response to that line in that song.  Your response was either Thank you, Lord or it was well, some other people have worth, but it’s certainly not me?  Anybody there?  I vacillate between thank you, Lord and I wish that were true for me.  The more people I talk to, the more I’m convinced that as humanity we struggle with this idea of worth.  I’ve sorta boiled it down to….we have two roadblocks to believing the words of this song and the truth of the gospel that we indeed are people that have worth. The first is what I’ll call a faulty narrative.  You do know that you have a tape that plays in your mind.  You have ideas.  You have thoughts.  You have things that people have said to you that just play.  It could be something that your mom or dad said to you from a very early age.  “You’re never going to amount to anything.”  “You’re ugly.”  “You’re not smart.”  We have these narratives we carry with us.  And so when we hear something like and the soul felt its worth and we go I’m wrestling with that because that’s not what I’ve been told and that’s not what I’ve been telling myself.  A lot of us when we hear that go I just don’t know if that can be true for me.  That might be where you’re at this morning.  A faulty narrative, a tape that plays in our mind, something we’ve been told and we believe on a heart level.  On a head level we know it’s not true, but on a heart level it is the background music to everything we do.  So we find ourselves trying to achieve in order to say here’s my resume.  Can you validate me?  Am I okay?

The first roadblock is a faulty narrative.  The second is false theology.  Our view of God sometimes reflects back on us to where we say people don’t have worth.  Here’s how we get there.  There’s a difference between having worth and being worthy.  So the Scriptures are really clear: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  Right?  In Romans 3:10 it says:  None is righteous, no, not one.  So you are unworthy.  Worthy simply means that you’re deserving.  So you’re undeserving.  But worthy is not the same as worth, because as clear as the Scriptures tell us that we are unworthy, that we’ve fallen short of the glory of God, that we are not undeserving, the other side of the coin is that God declares clearly and unequivocally that humanity has worth.  Deep and abiding worth.  What happens theologically is we tie those two things together.  We equate being worthy with having worth.  We say we’re not worthy so we don’t have worth and I just want to tell you…..it’s a lie from the pit of hell!!  The Enemy would love, love, love to keep you confined to this way of thinking and being and to the tape that plays in your mind I have no worth because I am not worthy.  But luckily you’re here this morning.  The message of the gospel is the message that although you are unworthy, He (God) deems you as having unending value and worth and He proves it in the season of Christmas that we celebrate and His life given to us, entering into our story.  Living and dying and taking our sin upon Himself and conquering death through the resurrection.  You cannot read the Christmas story and not come to the conclusion that in the eyes of God humanity has deep, deep worth and value.  Here’s the thing.  My guess is you’re going to give a lot of presents this year and you’re going to get some.  My hope is that this is the first one you get all year.  My hope is that you’re able to receive it!  Instead of going I’m unworthy….let’s just admit it, we’re unworthy!…then go alright God, in light of that, tell me who I am in Your eyes.  You can only give out what you have in.  So a lot of us are trying to love the people around us, but we don’t believe that we are loved.

When Placide Cappeau writes: …and the soul felt its worth, he’s inviting us into a whole new Narnia-esque world of being, where we go oh, so that’s what it feels like to know that the one who sits on the throne says you have value in my eyes.  Listen to the way the Apostle John invites us into his version of the Christmas story.  His version is from heaven’s perspective.  Listen to the way that he talks about the coming of the King, of the Christ, of the Messiah.  He says:  The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  {He said not everybody received Him.  Not everybody welcomed Him with opened arms.  That’s an understatement. But he goes on to write….} But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  {That’s who you are.  So when we sing a song I’m no longer a slave to fear, I’m a child of God, we’re singing Scripture to each other.  We’re reminding ourselves of the story that we live in that He deems us as being valuable enough to give His life for and make us not orphans anymore but children.  That’s huge!} …who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9, 12-14)  In the book of Ephesians, Paul is going to pick up this idea and say He did it because of His good pleasure.  He wanted to!  I love that!  The Christmas story reflects the heart and the desire of God to welcome you home.  Man, this is not just a story about a baby being born.  This is a story about God making a declaration.  That He loves you.  That you have value and worth.  John goes on to say: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us {Literally, in the Greek, it’s this idea of Jesus came and he sorta just set up shop in your neighborhood.  He’s present in your life.} …and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So, light.  Adopted as children?  And a God who says I’m not just leaving you on your own, I’m coming to dwell in your midst?  Now you tell me humanity doesn’t have value to God.  Did He need to do this?  No! Absolutely not! He did this out of His good pleasure, out of His desire, out of His heart, it overflowed to humanity.  So what if this Christmas we allowed ourselves to hear the voice of God singing over us and speaking worth into our souls. What if this Christmas, we heard the Christmas story not so much about a baby born in a manger in this small town 2000+ years ago.  But what if we heard the story of God speaking worth over humanity, declaring it as clearly as He could, by entering into our world.  What if this season, first and foremost wasn’t about giving gifts, but about, maybe for the first time, allowing ourselves to receive one, without thinking there’s a footnote in our Bible that goes except for you.  Do you ever read the Bible that way?  This is true for everybody else except me.  He goes no, no, no, no, no.  The soul…your soul…allow it to feel worth.  It’s in Jesus’ birth that He declares humanity’s worth.  It’s in His life and His teaching that He tells us how to walk in this, because you and I both know we can hear it, but not really implement it on a heart level.  Right?  So Jesus wants to teach us how to walk in our worth.  He wants to teach us how walking in our worth changes the entire world that we see and the life that we live.

Turn to Matthew 6:25-27 as we jump into what I would consider Jesus’ most complete teaching on the value He places on humanity and the implications of that value.  Listen to what he says:  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?    Do not be anxious.  Here’s the thing, Jesus.  Are we suppose to make a task list?  Box number one — Don’t be anxious.  Check.  Has that worked for anyone? EVER?  Jesus makes this brazen commandment, don’t be anxious and we go that’s a great idea.  I really wish we could walk in that.  I really wish it could be true.  But the more I think about not being anxious, the more I find things to be anxious about.  Who’s with me?  The more I think about the things in my life that I could worry about, the longer the list seems to get.  Worry, just like humility, is not something you can combat head on, because the more you think about worry and trying not to be anxious, the more you’re thinking about the things you’re anxious about.  Like a merry-go-round, it keeps going around, doesn’t it?  Like a hamster wheel.  Some of you are on it.  The word anxious literally means “to divide.”  It’s this division of thought.  So you’re sorta thinking about two things at once.  I know some of you, in the Christmas season especially, have flipped over (the bulletin) and are saying Paulson, you’re not even at point one yet.  You took the outline, flipped it over and are making your to-do list.  You’re thinking you have so much to do.  I have to go buy that…I’ve gotta do laundry…I’ve gotta go clean this…..   Right?  You’re making your list and here’s what happens:  We’re not only not here, but we’re also not really there.  It’s this hamster wheel effect of being divided or being drawn and quartered, where when you’re anxious you’re not actually present anywhere.  Have you ever noticed that?  Jesus says don’t do that!  We look back at Jesus and go that’s really nice!  That’s a great idea, thank you very much!  Could you maybe unpack for us a little bit how we walk in that?  Just in case you think that this is a problem for people 2000 years ago….I don’t think you do, but….   Here’s a list of the things people are anxious about.  This is a number of lists compiled and I’m going to give you my top six.  1) Money.  God, are you going to provide?  Are we going to have enough?  My goal isn’t to make you anxious, but just to say let’s enter into this.  2) Relationships or family.  Are we going to be able to mend that fence?  Is that actually going to work out when THEY come this year?  What’s it going to be like?  3) Am I going to find purpose? How do I contribute to the world that we live in in a way that promotes the common good?  I want my life to matter.  4) Aging.  You look in the mirror and you don’t look quite like you used to.  Your body’s breaking down a little bit.  There’s no rewind button on that.  5) Physical health is diminishing.  Here’s one I see a lot and feel a lot lately: 6) Safety.    Seems like the world’s getting more dangerous.  What does it look like to protect our family, etc., etc.

The more we try not to worry, the more we find things to worry about.  Listen to the way Jesus instructs us: Look {Quick timeout.  Circle that it in your Bible.  Star it.  Highlight it.  His active “this is how we walk in a freedom from anxiety” is look around!  God’s proving His faithfulness all over creation.  His point is do you think you’re outside of God’s provisional, gracious hand.  LOOK.}  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. {See, when I’m anxious, I’m really just unaware.  When I walk in worry, I’m really just not seeing the world around me and everything that has to go right in order for the world to continue to move.  I’m losing sight of the fact that every breath is a miracle.  So Jesus says just zoom out a little bit.  Get outside of yourself a little bit and look.  And then he’s going to make this point….} Are you not of more value than they?  You do know, don’t you, that you matter more to God than anything else in all of His creation.  So here’s what Jesus wants to do.  He wants to connect this condition of our soul and our mind and our heart of anxiety, of being divided and being anxious and being worried with here’s what’s really underneath that.  Underneath every single one of your anxieties, underneath every single one of your concerns, and underneath every single one of your worries is one central thing.  You don’t believe, and I often lose sight of the fact, that we are deeply loved by the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  And the fact that we don’t believe it causes us to steer our lives in so many different ways.  But when I do believe it, when I do receive my worth from God, I am able to release my worry to God.  But I can only release my worry to Him, if I first receive my worth from Him.  All of us have a way we find value in our life.  For some of us it’s the number in our bank accounts.  For some of us it’s the family that we have and the kids that we have.  Our kids are 4.0 students and they’re the best athlete on their team.  All of us think that and some of us have kids on the same team, so somebody’s delusional.  Or it’s the role that we have at work.  We all have ways that we find worth.  It’s a human condition.  We need it.  You have a way that you’re finding worth in your life.  The question is whether what you find worth in can support your worry.  Because everybody’s worry needs to be supported by something and our lives get out of balance when the things that we find our worth in cannot hold up under the weight of our worry.  There’s only one thing that can:  It’s hearing the voice of God sing over you, speak over you…You are Mine and I love you and you’re unworthy but you’re of great worth and the Christmas story declares it.

Listen to the way Jesus goes on in Matthew 10:29-31—Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  {So he’s going God is so intimately involved in your life that He knows how many hairs are on your head.  For some of us, He needs to stay really up-to-date!  So believe that God cares and then fear not.  When you believe He cares, you can release your anxiety.  You can release your care if you’re convinced He cares.  But until you come to that place, you can read worry here, worry not, fear not.}  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.  Friend, I pray that your soul feels its worth today, because I think it’s the greatest gift God’s going to give you all season.  If you believe that, it’s the gift that you’re going to, in turn, give to the people around you.  If you don’t believe you’re of great worth, you won’t give people great worth.  I love the way Tim Keller, the great pastor and theologian, puts it: “The pressure is off for all of us to make a name for ourselves.  Jesus has made a name for us already.”  That’s good, is it not?  Some of you are going this is just positive thinking.  To you I say, this is accurate thinking and if accurate thinking happens to be positive, count me in.  The “I’m unworthy train”….I don’t know if that’s served anybody well.  So hear from the voice of God today.  The Christmas story is about Him making you children of the Most High God.  It’s not positive thinking, it’s accurate thinking.

Listen to the way Jesus goes on in this teaching about how to live a life that’s free from worry and the benefits that come along with that.   And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?   Here’s my translation of what Jesus said:  Don’t be anxious.  Look around.  Know that you’re valuable to God. And let’s just talk about anxiety…..how’s that working out for you?  That’s what he’s saying.  I said it last week, I’ll say it again, I never met anybody that said, “I’m so glad I’m carrying this anxiety.  “Cause it’s really helping me!  I really feel like it’s fruitful in my life.  Thank you very much.”  And Jesus goes why are you worrying about things that you can do nothing about.  It’s not going to lengthen your life.  Ironically….and Jesus knows this…he’s saying it sort of tongue-in-cheek….we know that anxiety cannot lengthen your life, but we also know it can shorten it.  All these studies that tie heart conditions to anxiety, that tie bad health to anxiety, that tie lack of sleep to anxiety, so when Jesus is inviting us to release our worry, He’s inviting us to a better way of living and none of us would argue that.  Here’s what happens when we’re divided:  When my mind is on my to-do list and here…when my mind is questioning God, are you going to come through for us in the future?  Am I going to have enough money to pay that bill when that bill comes due in two weeks?  It robs us of the ability to be present, does it not?  I love the way that Corrie Ten Boom puts it: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength.”  It’s true.  The divided mind is a mind that’s present nowhere, but when you know your worth from God and you release your worry to God, you’re able to live in the present. It’s this beautiful gift.  I think God’s inviting us to not only release, but then to give to the people around us.

If you’ve gone through a marriage ceremony, you’ve seen this lived out.  You’ve seen that it’s possible to be somewhere and not be there.  Because about a year after you’re married, maybe less, you’ll look back on the day and go I don’t remember anything.  Am I the only one?  We have video documentation so we know it happened, right?  But I remember very few things about that day.  Why?  Because there’s a ton of other things on your mind like: Is the caterer going to show up?  Is the food going to happen?  Are the ushers actually going to be in place?  Is the music guy going to start the music?  Is the pastor going to screw this up? Maybe.  But when your mind is divided amongst a ton of different places, it’s not really anywhere, is it?  So Jesus says you’re not going to add to your life by worrying, so why not release your worry and be present in your life.  Some of you are really worried about the Christmas season.  You’re traveling or have people coming to visit you and you’re already playing in your mind how the conversation’s going to go.  May I propose to you that the worry you’re carrying might actually cause you to miss the actual conversation.  And that it might not be as bad as you think.  When we carry our worry we’re unable to be present, because if we’re in more than one place we’re really nowhere.

Dallas Willard, the great theologian, pastor, philosopher, was asked one time, what is the one word you would use to describe Jesus.  His response was a little bit shocking to me.  He said: Unhurried.  That he was just simply present in the world that He lived in and the people that He was with.  So he said things like:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled…(John 14:27)    As if to say there’s going to be things to be troubled about, but how’s that going to actually lead to benefit you if you carry those.  Receive my peace, he says, and live in my way.  It’s interesting if you go to the end of this passage in Matthew 6, verse 34.  Listen to the way that Jesus ends this:  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.    Some translations say Do not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow has enough trouble of its own.  Jesus is giving a little bit of a pep talk, but he needs a little coaching.  Because here’s what he says: Don’t worry about tomorrow.  You’re not there yet and it’s going to be terrible when you get there!!   That was a little tongue in cheek, but here’s what He’s saying.  Tomorrow’s going to have some trouble, evil if you will, but what are you going to do today that’s actually going to change your tomorrow.  Nothing.  Your worrying about tomorrow isn’t going to do anything. Except rob you of today.  Here’s the thing:  God gives you enough grace and enough provision to walk through the pain and the problems of today.  What we want from God is give me enough provision to walk through the pain and the problems of tomorrow, but give it to me now, because I’m uncertain if You’re going to be consistently good tomorrow.  He goes no, no, no, no, no, I’m not giving you tomorrow’s manna today.  You’re going to trust me for that and I’m going to deliver and I’ve been good on my word.  I’ll be good tomorrow, but I’m not giving you tomorrow’s manna today.  I’ll give you that provision when you get there.  Worry says I’ve got to do it all NOW.  Worth says I believe that God will deliver in His time because He’s good; so I don’t need to control all the people and all the circumstances in my live.

He goes on to say: And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.   So here’s this conclusion: You can worry and try to do it on your own OR you can step back and recognize that your Father knows every single one of your needs today, right now, and He graciously provides.  Let’s just let that sit on us for a second.  Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Not one need that you have is He unaware of, friend.  Nothing.  The question isn’t whether or not He’ll provide, the question is whether or not we’ll receive.  And when I worry, I’m saying I’ve got to do this on my own and my hands are closed to His gracious and good provision, one.  But my hands are also closed to seeing the people around me.  If I’m so obsessed with What am I going to eat? and What am I going to wear? and What am I going to drink?…..  Notice Jesus doesn’t say you’re worried about IF you’ll eat.  He says WHAT.  And I say amen.  I’m always worried WHAT I’m going to eat.  I know I’m going to eat, but WHAT am I going to eat.  There’s a difference.  But He goes when you’re so worried about you….What will I eat?  What will I drink?  What will I wear?…..You know who the furthest person from my mind is if I’m worried about what I’ll eat, what I’ll wear, what I’ll drink?  YOU!  You the furthest person from my mind if I’m obsessed with me.  Here’s what Jesus wants to do in this beautiful, masterful way:  He wants to say will you release your worry.  Will you release your worry and actually be willing and able, not only to be present with people, but to love people?  To be FOR people.  I can be worried or I can be loving.  I can’t be both.  Worry makes me obsessed with me.   If I’m obsessed with me, I can’t see you.  It’s only when you know and I know that we’re loved that we can actually be loving to the people around us.  Maybe the best gift you’re going to give this year is the fact that you might receive worth and let go of your worry.   The gospel writers and the authors of the epistles wanted to just press this into people’s souls, because they knew this is a slippery truth.  Paul writes and says that he prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, that you might start to see differently and that you may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ… {He goes that’s my prayer, church!  That your eyes might be open to know that you are deeply loved and He will not let you go.}  ...the of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph.3:18-19)  How are you filled with the fullness of God?  When you know the love of God.  That’s how.  Not arbitrary love for someone, love for you.

It’s interesting to me that Jesus references the sparrow in this passage.  The sparrow is known in God’s creation for being one of the hardest working animals in all of creation.  It’s interesting to me because I think we could take this and go well, I’m going to release my worry and just sorta sit back with my feet by the fire, sipping hot cocoa.  The illustration is counseling against anxiety, not in favor of laziness.  We should be people who work hard.  The sparrow works hard, but recognizes that God is the one who provides.  We should do the same.  We work hard and God provides.  The passage is not speaking against the value of working hard, it’s speaking against finding our value in working hard.

Here’s how the passage closes:  But seek first…. {If you’re willing to let go of your worry by receiving your worth, your eyes are going to be open to seeing a whole new world.}  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things {These things that your Father knows you need and your gracious Father graciously provides…those things.} …will be added to you.  How many of them?  ALL of them.  But seek first.  When I’m seeking me, when I’m seeking to cover my needs, I’m not free to seek the kingdom.  But when I’m able to release my worry by knowing my worth, I am launched into God’s purpose for my life.  Worry free equals kingdom available.  Worry causes me to walk in self-preservation.  It’s that hoarder….am I going to have enough, am I going to have enough; I’ve got to get a little bit more.  I’ve got to make sure I have enough.  When I’m focused on me I cannot be open to God.  So Jesus, in a very practical way, says release your worry and walk into your purpose.  This is like victim mentality….can we let go of that, know that we’re loved and walk into purpose.  Can we walk into generosity this season?  I read a story this week about a couple that made a $500,000 anonymous donation.  They walked into Cub Foods with a $500,000 anonymous check and put it in a Salvation Army bucket.  You can think they have so much they don’t have any worries in the world.  Here’s the deal: it’s not about how much you have that makes you generous.  It’s about how much faith you have.  It’s about how close you’re willing to walk with the Father and say I know you provide for all my needs and so I’m willing to have an open-handed type of life.  The more I worry, the smaller my world gets.  Have you ever noticed this?  The more worry I carry the closer and closer the walls come in.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining…the night of our dear Savior’s birth.  Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.    When Kelly and I were wrestling through whether God was leading us to move to Colorado…..we were leaving our home and friends in San Diego.  One of the very first questions I asked was can we sell our house and at least break even.  I don’t care about making money, I just don’t want to lose money.  That was my first fleece I put out.  I met with my realtor and he said he thought we’d be able to sneak out.  I think you can break even on this thing.  I said great, let’s put it on the market.  It only sat on the market for a week or two and we got a full-price offer.  It was wonderful!  We were praising God and saying God, you’re in this! Yes and amen.  We had the inspection and appraisal.  The appraisal came back $20,000 (lower) difference between how much the person said we’ll buy this for and how much the bank said it’s worth.  We’re left with this predicament about what to do.  We really believed God was leading us, so we just said alright, we’ll just take the loss.  We’re going to take the loss and move forward and we believe that even though it didn’t work out the way that we wanted it to, it worked out the way that God wanted it to and we’ll trust Him with that.  You know how all of this could have been avoided?  If we would have had a cash buyer.  Do you know what a cash buyer doesn’t need?  A cash buyer doesn’t need an appraisal!  Nobody’s loaning him anything.  They’re just walking in and saying I’ve got enough and I’ll pay this much for it.  I think it’s worth this much therefore I will give you this much for it.  Did you know that Jesus is a cash buyer?  Jesus is a cash buyer and a lot of us are still going here’s my appraisal and I add up.  OR we’re holding our appraisal and going I DON’T add up.  I am not worthy!  Here’s the definitive declaration of the incarnation and Jesus’ life, death and resurrection:  He’s not looking for an appraisal!  He’s a cash buyer and He will determine how much it’s worth and what He determined you are worth is His very life!  And for 2000 years, followers of Jesus have been coming to the table to remind ourselves that for some reason we are of great worth to the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  We can throw our appraisals to the side.  He’s not interested.  What He’s interested in is the fact that Jesus the Messiah took on flesh, lived a perfect life.  Walked to the hill of Calvary.  Gave His life for you and for me.  Was buried and dead and rose out with a check that declared it cleared!!  And this is a table where we remember that we are purchased and made whole by the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  As you come this morning to celebrate His life, His death, His resurrection, may you come knowing you’re deeply loved by the King of kings.  Leave your appraisal.  Leave your resume and know He’s a cash buyer and He’s purchased your life with His, because in His eyes you’re worth it.  You’re worth it!  Maybe this Christmas the same gift we give should be the same one we receive.  The fact that we have great worth in the eyes of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Let’s pray.  So Father, we come.  We come, in many ways, wrestling with the truth that You find us to be of great worth.  Because we know we’re not worthy.  Yet your blood speaks a better word.  Your life given for us reminds us of the fact that you love us, that you’re for us, that you provide and that you’re always enough.  As we come to the table together this morning, Jesus, would you remind us of the fact that you’re for us, that you love us and that you say that you are of more value than they.  Thank you.  It’s in your name that we pray. Amen.