Archive for December, 2019
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. [NRSV]
The angels pronounce Jesus as:
1. Numerous people have saved us and maybe we too have saved others from hunger, fear, grief and loss.
2. Many have been our political Lords and leaders, most all of us have been entrusted with leading others.
3. But none of us is the Messiah.
The angels proclaim that not only has God’s leader come to the world, not only do we find a savior for our sins, we also find God with us, Christ-mas. Emanuel, The power love and joy of God is revealed in Jesus the Christ.
And not only has the Long awaited Messiah come to live amount us, we have in him the greatest Joy!
What is the the great joy?
There are many joys we experience in our lives:
Family, Children and grands
Home, Vocations, Careers and the fruit of our labors
The beauty of each season
The treasures of traditions and memories
But what is the greatest joy?
I believe we don’t often live as if we have found the greatest joy
Recall in Jesus’s parable of the Great Pearl, once found the person traded all they had to purchase the Great Pearl.
So often we continue looking for more than what we have found by faith in Christ.
Just as the disciples of John the Baptizer who had heard and seen the words and deeds of Jesus but when he did not fulfill the idea they held, the questioned and doubted the news concerning Jesus.
We live knowing the joy of Christ, yet with live without the “mas” part of Christmas throughout the years.
“Mas” being the dwelling presence of Christ in our daily life and nightly rest. Christ-mas, Christ-with-us.
Tonight is a family occasion as a church community, but it is also I personal time of affirmation and reaffirmation. I come to the place where my strength ends and Gods joy begins, you and I kneel as those who gathered in the fields around Bethlehem, like those around the manger , we kneel before our Lord and,
And find ourselves filled with the Love and Power of God.
Come to the Throne of God, come to the heart of God, come to source of life and love and be made new, set your spirit aflame by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Tonight we have come to our journey’s purposeful end:
To find Jesus Christ alive, renewed and coursing in our breath and bodies.
You and I are the witness of God’s savior, Lord and Messiah.
You and I are entrusted to live out the work and joy of the Lord
If you have never proclaimed Jesus Christ as your savior then claim him now
If you have said the words but lost the power and drive of the Holy Spirit give yourself again, our king awaits us
If you have that spirit passion then reach out to those who are lost, searching, wandering, squandering and afraid and offer them his great Joy
God wants to move in with us, today and every day and for eternity
The world is filled with broken, angry, selfish and hardened hearts
Join the angels, shepherd, magi and family of God until the world know the great joy by
heart and faith,
in song and deed,
in day and night
Join me as we come to his table set for us all
Join in the bread and cup of forgiveness and eternal joy.
Death is no more our fear
God is our life, our light, our power and our love.
This is the great joy!
And God has blessed us with this gift to have and to share.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved. O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves. Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved [NRSA]
Let the congregation say it again: “O God of heaven, let your face shine, that we may be saved, amen!”
The Psalm is a song of lament and a confession of sin, as well as a prayer for salvation.
how long we have we babe know sorry, fear, separation, defeat, calamity, trouble and loss. We have cried so among tears, they are our drink.
how long have we been seen as less than enough, how long have we been taken advantage, how long have we been the butt of the joke and ‘that’ ring or on our road or street?
how long have our enemies had more than we have had, how long have we been defeated, belittle and bullied? How long have we lived by our enemies standards and expectations?
now is the time to call upon the lord. Now the day for us to remember who’s family we belong. Now is the season for us to turn to Gods power, as we have found ourselves broken and powerless.
These are the word of lament.
These are the words of confession.
What is left to be done?
The Congregation calls for God to show up.
the congregation calls for God to shine upon their darkness and brokenness.
Come Lord with your mighty presences.
We need to see you face.
We need you to be with us, here and now
The call in this act of worship is for God to shine his presence, his might and his light on our darkness, fear, shame and selfishness…
we could never have done enough, know enough, worshipped enough, we are not enough, without you or God…come Show up and restore us.
This is the congregation crying out for what we already know and find in Jesus Christ.
The worshipers would gather in the temple cry out to God. “ O God of Heaven, Let your face shine, and save us.
People were ask for the tangible, physical, powerful presence of God to be present and to restore them from their sin.
Jesus, as Messiah, was not a surprise nor and afterthought of God, even way back then people knew from life’s of emptiness and brokenness that only God could show up to save us…
this is the good news of Christmas!
God is showing us Gods glory, power and life for us to be saved, restored, redeemed and made wholle.
“I don’t need anything for Christmas” not true!
I need Jesus to shadiness his face upon us and make us new and that becomes our peace, joy, love and faith.
another way to say, Lord of Heaven, give me your mighty power that I might be renewed, save, rekindled, for you and your glory, not mine but your.
This is the Christmas gift we seek, and share.. Merry Christmas and may Christ save and restore you today!
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord! [NRSA]
- At the core of celebrating Christmas is the telling God’s story
- It is not a New Story
- It is a Story of Good News for a Broken World
- It is Your Story to Live
It may be somewhat strange to turn to the Psalms to hear the Good News of Christmas. Be reminded that God who has been calling all people to trust him, has the same heart of love shown in creation, revealed through out shared history, made plane in the manger in Bethlehem, is the same love and message of hope for the world.
Question 1: Do you know God’s Good News in your life?
The Good News that Jesus makes plain is fortold in the worship songs, the Psalms. Here in Psalm 146 the song retells that our HAPPINESS comes from God and not our things, not our money, not our success, not our accomplishment, RATHER – Our Joy and Hope come from God..
If you and I are looking for Joy and Hope in others things and other relationships they will all disappoint us if God is not in them.
Look around, in the world, in our community, in our church, in our homes, in our own hearts: We do not always place God first in our hearts, minds and soul.
Question 2: Are you persuaded and guided by God’s Hope?
If you believe God is at work in the world today and in your life, you have the very message that God has been trying to share with the world. It only takes a moment to see the brokenness and fear that leads people’s hearts, minds and spirits to know — Faith, Hope and Love are precious gifts that need to be shared and unwrapped.
I have to believe that most everyone of us would want to answer, “YES!” I am persuaded! I believe God loves the world and God desires the world around me to see, hear and experience God’s love through my life. (your life). But in how many short minutes or seconds before our pride, our greed, our selfishness, our demons, our dependancies, our fears tempt, test and tear us away?
Question 3. Do you remember that it is God’s Story in us and not the reverse.
Psalm 146 calls the people of God, while in worship, to remember the eternal power God has for us, who believe and serve. The words are comfort to those held captive, those blind, and those oppressed. The Lord lifts up the stranger, the orphan and the widow. The Good News to which Jesus preaches in his first home-town sermon.
The part of the sermon that gets him run out of town is that God is not saving the lost and empowering the powerless to do their own thing, God is blessing us to be God’s servants, witnesses and messengers.
The Psalm is clear that God is not about supporting wickedness, pride, greed, fear, brokenness and sin. God has come to free us from these things, but not to return to them as our master.
The 4 Question is this: Who is entrusted to tell and live the story?
Is it those who test the Lord loving-kindness or those who follow God’s ways? The Psalms sings: Praise the Lord! (Not look what I want, what You want, what I need, what you need… The seperation we experience and witness in the world is that we turn our hearts away from our hope and salvation.
As a culture-of-church we have become more of an institution, an organization and a entity of operations. We talk about OUR ministry, OUR building, OUR mission, and OUR church. We hear the Psalmist remind us, that we about God’s ministry, God’s heart, God’s temple, God’s work and God’s witness.
As a culture-of-church we have grown to expect someone else to do the work and us to receive the ‘Cliff-notes’ gift-pack that makes it easy to receive. When we expect to be served, we are not serving. When we anticipate the transaction of getting because we have given. Whew think of ourselves as entitled to the benefits of membership, we need to revisit the words of the Psalms: Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
In our journey toward Christmas and rekindling the presence of Christ in ourlives, know this:
- God is calling us to worship him
- God is calling us to repent of our sins, fears and selfishness
- God is calling us to trust him
- God is calling me (state your name) to be the witness to the world
- IF THIS IS OUR TO DO LIST: We need Christ to be our
- Our Strength
- Our Good News
- Our Word
- and OUR HOPE
Prayer: Lord make us yours, be our strength, draw us to your word and call, and open the hearts and minds of everyone we meet to receive you through our words and witness of your power, love and grace. Amen.