That’s Christmas! That’s Church! Restored

Isaiah 7:10-16            Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19        Romans 1:1-7                        Matthew 1:18-25

December 22, 2013

God is good!  He is so good, that he thinks of us.  God’s thinking of us doesn’t stop at a thought.  God decided to come to earth and live the Latin phrase: “Veni, vedi, vici!” Yes, I know that this phrase is attributed to Julius Caesar after he defeated Pharnaces of Pontus in May of 47 BC.[1] To what did God come?  He came to earth.  What did God see?  He saw a world dying from sin.  What did God conquer?  He conquered sin (and death, and hell).  Doing this, God restored us.

You ask, how did God do these things?  God conquered sin and death so that we could be saved, to be restored to a holy relationship with God.  So, he sent his son, Jesus to save us.  God did not cop out of the action.  God sent his Son, whose name means “God saves.”  And God told us he would do this!

 

  1. God will give you (plural) a sign (Isaiah 7:10-16)
    1. Ahaz didn’t want to ask for a sign
    2. God gave a sign anyway – to you (plural)
    3. Young woman (Hebrew) vs. virgin (Greek) – the sign worked in Isaiah’s time & for Jesus’ birth as well
    4. God with us
    5. We surely need God with us.  It doesn’t matter what political stripe we are, God’s view of what needs done doesn’t go along with it!  He wants to be with us.  Yet, we don’t act like we want to be with God.  Rightfully so, God has anger towards his people.  But will God stay angry with us?

 

  1. God will turn from his anger (Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19)
    1. When God turns to us, we get saved (delivered, healed)
    2. When we turn from God, we face sorrow, scorn from others
    3. God gets us to turn back to him
    4. How does God get us to turn back to him?  He comes to be with us!  How do we know that it is God?  Look at Jesus’ life.  Either he is “God with us,” or he played us like a fiddle!

 

  1. Jesus is “God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25)
    1. Joseph had every right to divorce Mary, by the law
    2. Joseph listened to God, via the angel – obedience to God is higher than the law!
    3. “He will save his people from their sins” – which people?
      1. Jews?
      2. Us?
      3. Or both?
      4. I read a letter this week from Martee Buchanan at the Radford University Wesley Foundation.  In this letter is a story that I believe helps us understand Jesus’ birth.  Here is what I read:

The story is told of an agnostic farmer who was quite vocal about his disregard for all things religious.  His earnest, Christian wife gently invited him to worship with his family, but never nagged or pushed.  One snowy Christmas Eve, as she and the children were leaving for worship, his wife asked if he wanted to join them to celebrate God’s coming to earth in human form.  Dismissing the story as nonsense, the farmer stayed at home alone.  When the snow changed to a driving storm, the farmer went outside to check his livestock.  He saw a flock of wild geese and began to try to lead them to the safety of his barn. After exhaustive attempts to shoo/lead the geese into the barn, he took a break to re-think his approach.

“He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow a human. ‘If only I were a goose, then I could save them,’ he said out loud.  Then he had an idea.  He went into the barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese.

He then released it.  His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn – and one-by-one, the other geese followed it to safety.  He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: ‘If only I were a goose, then I could save them.’  Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. ‘Why would God want to be like us?  That’s ridiculous!’

Suddenly it all made sense.   That is what God has done.  We were like the geese – blind, lost, perishing.  God had his Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us.  As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought.  Suddenly he understood why Christ had come.  Years of doubt and disbelief vanished with the passing storm.  He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: ‘Thank you, God, for coming in human form to lead me through the storm!’”

  1. Joseph obeyed God.  And Jesus was born and named.  When we obey God, we get to see God’s work being done in this world.  We get to see that God is with us.  But are we with God?

 

  1. Will we belong to Jesus Christ? (Romans 1:1-7)
    1. Paul considered himself a slave to Christ Jesus
    2. The good news is that Jesus is from God, was raised from the dead, & he gives us power to live
    3. Jews & Gentiles can belong to Jesus Christ – we are called to – by God!
    4. Will you belong to Jesus Christ?  Will you just believe in Jesus Christ?  When we do accept the call to belong, we say that we believe Jesus saves us.

Credo                        Daniel Berrigan

I can only tell you what I believe; I believe:
I cannot be saved by foreign policies.
I cannot be saved by the sexual revolution.
I cannot be saved by the gross national product.
I cannot be saved by nuclear deterrents.
I cannot be saved by aldermen, priests, artists,   
plumbers, city planners, social engineers
nor by the Vatican,
nor by the World Buddhist Association
nor by Hitler, nor by Joan of Arc,
nor by angels and archangels,
nor by powers and dominions,
I can be saved only by Jesus Christ.

 Folks, that’s Christmas – believing that God came to be with us.  Folks, that’s church – belonging to Jesus Christ!  We get the chance to believe because God is with us. 

 Will you believe in Jesus Christ?  The geese followed one like them.  We can follow the one God who became like us.  We can know the victory that God has over sin.  Will you belong to Jesus Christ?

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