Given By Rev. Madison Shockley and Rev. Vernon Ummel December 16, 2018

Reverend Shockley returns to the pulpit today. In the text, John tells the crowd about trees. They must bear fruit or be cut down and thrown in the fire.  Christmas trees are beautifully decorated, stand tall, and may have a star or angel on top. They do not bear fruit and are eventually thrown away. They have no practical value to anyone who is hurting or in need. It is great to look good but so much better to be good. This passage is a rebuttal to race, ethnicity, family, or clan. It does not matter who your ancestors are, what matter is how you live your life. Does your life bear fruit? Are you in service to God? John tells the crowd to share with people who have none, collect only what is your due, and don’t use violence to force your agenda on others. Celebrating Christmas is not just decorating and shouting “Merry Christmas.” Christmas is about living our lives in such a way that our neighbors may pause to think about Jesus. Ordinary people can encourage others to have a slice of the Divine. It is the birth of love, compassion, and equality. Ending this sermon and offering inspiration is a poem written and read by Reverend Vernon Ummel.