Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Watchnight Sermon: Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Never Changes

We’re moving into the final moments of this year. So how was 2013 for you? Hopefully there were some happy moments mingled with the sad ones. As time advances, with no way of slowing it down or even stopping it completely, we’re resigned to the fact that time brings changes. You might have noticed some of them over the course of the year.

You may have experienced changes in family - either through additions or through loss. There might have been a gap at the table come Christmas Day; or an extra mouth to feed. Even if your family stayed the same size, everyone is now an extra year older - the signs of age may be appearing, the grey hairs may be starting to show, or perhaps you feel every one of your years - in illness, or weakness. It’s the phenomenon described as TMB - Too Many Birthdays.

As we move from 2013 and start into the new year, we’re immediately faced with changes - remembering to write 2014 on letters and other dates. But the year stretches out in front of us, none of us knowing what lies ahead; none of us aware of the changes that will confront us. The only thing we can be sure of, the only thing that doesn’t change is this - change is inevitable.

The closing chapter of the letter to the Hebrews contains lots of useful pieces of advice, indeed, commands for the new year. They all flow from the message of the letter - that Jesus is better than the old covenant, that in Jesus we have the perfect sacrifice for our sins; the perfect priest who intercedes for us; the full assurance of salvation; the perfect meeting place of God and people; the great hope of the gospel.

And right at the heart of the chapter we find a little nugget which can be the verse for the new year, in the midst of the changes that will come: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.’ Everything may change and will change, but Jesus Christ is the same as he was yesterday, today, and will be for ever.

This means that Jesus is the solid rock on which we can build our life; the refuge in which we can shelter; the place of safety. Jesus is not like those around us who flutter and flap; he’s not like those who can change their mind at a moment’s notice; he’s not irritable or grumpy or dependent on getting his morning coffee to be in a good mood. The achievement of the cross; his ongoing work of praying for his people; his grace and goodness towards us will not and can not change, no matter what this new year will bring.

I wonder if you’ve got a friend or relative, and you never know which ‘person’ you’re going to find when you see them - whether it is grumpy aunt or pleasant aunt or evil aunt. Sometimes we think that God is a bit like this - some days he’s nice to us and other days it’s as if he got out of bed the wrong side. But our Bible verse reminds us that Jesus is not like that - he is the same every day.

It’s because his promise still holds that we can give ourselves to love and serve those around us. To show hospitality to strangers; to remember those in prison because they love Jesus. To seek holiness in marriage and contentment in money. To offer the sacrifice of praise to God as we confess his name.

It all comes down to the unchanging Jesus, who helps us cope with the changes of life. And as the new year begins, may we all know his grace in our lives, as we trust in him.

This sermon was preached at the Watchnight Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Tuesday 31st December 2013.

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