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Posts Tagged ‘advent’

In the days of Caesar Augustus

Joseph and Mary went to the city of David

Mary gave birth to a son

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes

She laid him in a manger

An angel came with good tidings

This child was Christ the Lord!

We light the first candle for the hope of the coming of the Lord. We light the second candle for the peace of knowing God has always wanted to be with us. We light the third candle for the joy of Jesus birth. We light the fourth candle for the love God showed us at Christmas!

Tonight, we light the Christ candle and we are reminded that he is still God with us!

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Our politics have little to do with whether retail stores allow employees to wish consumers a Merry Christmas or allow the Salvation Army to ring out front or whether the court house will permit a nativity scene on the premises. For the church to expect Target or the court house or the president to communicate Christmas for us is simply ridiculous. I suspect the principalities and powers are pleased when we become so dependent on them. And if our witness hinges on retailers or elected officials, we have bigger problems than we care to admit.

The politics of Christmas are much bigger than such things. The fifth verse of the Gospel of Luke starts it off. “In the days of Herod, king of Judea.” So it begins. On the stage of local politics, John the Baptizer is conceived and born.

Meanwhile, there is something even bigger going on. Jesus is conceived and his mother Mary begins talking about politics. She tells us that when God’s kingdom promises are complete, people will have enough food. She tells us about a kingdom where the rich and powerful will no longer exploit the weak and poor. Mary makes claims of a new kingdom before the king is even born.

And then, on the stage of world politics where Caesar Augustus ruled, Jesus is born. Luke may be implying that while John was to have a significant local impact among Jews in Judea, Jesus will have a worldwide impact for all people.

And before we think the politics are out of the way, Luke chapter three begins with a list of politicians. It was “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.” (Just an observation, Augustus didn’t last long). “Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea… Herod was tetrarch of Galilee… Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitus… Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene” and the high priesthood included “Annas and Caiaphas.” Whew!

We can be certain that both local and worldwide politics provide settings for what follows. It also becomes obvious that wherever one turns they are faced with the politics of the world. Everyone in the story is surrounded by the world’s power. That is when “the word of God came to John.” And among the verbal clutter of all those political voices, came “The voice of one crying in the wilderness.”

Its on. Luke wants to make sure we know early in the gospel story that our politics are counter to the politics of the world. So, we are told that one of those listed politicians, Herod, had enough of John’s counter political preaching and locked him in prison. If nothing else, this reminds us there is much more at stake than we may first suspect.

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In the Beginning was the Word

The Word was With God

The Word was God

All Things were Made by Him

Including a World that He so Loved

He was a Light in that World

And He so Loved the World

He Became Flesh and Made His Dwelling with Us

We light the first candle for the hope of the coming of the Lord. We light the second candle for the peace of knowing God has always wanted to be with us. We light the third candle for the joy of this Good News. Today we light the fourth candle for the love God showed us at Christmas!

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In a season when we talk of songs and angels and miracles, we are also reminded of struggles and challenges. But during Advent we are reminded that nothing is impossible with God. As we walk through this season, we hear the joy that comes with good tidings. We are reminded that the world changed at Christmas.

We light the first candle as a reminder of the hope of the coming of the Lord. We light the second candle as a reminder of the peace that comes with knowing that God has always desired to be with us. Today, we light the third candle with joy as we receive the good news about Jesus.

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Behold! The virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son and they shall call his name Immanuel. And we will know that God s with us. The God of Abraham is with us! The God of David is with us! A child shall be born and we will know that God is with us! The Good News tells us that more than anything – God desires to be with us!

We light the first candle to remind us to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Today we will light the second candle and are reminded that from the beginning, God has always desired to be with us.

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Reader 1 – Behold!

Reader 2 – Prepare for the Lord

Reader 1 – I am sending my messenger!

Reader 2 – Prepare for the Lord

Reader 1 – There is a voice crying in the wilderness!

Reader 2 – It is saying, prepare for the Lord

Reader 1 – Make your paths Straight!

Reader 2 – and Prepare for the Lord

Reader 1 – Get Ready!

Reader 2 – And straighten up!

Both readers – Prepare for the Lord

We light the first candle of Advent and remember that the Old Testament prophet told us about the importance of preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord. We remember that the New Testament messenger tells us about the importance of preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Today we are reminded again to be ready for the coming of the Lord.

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Christmas is coming. Advent begins in just eighteen days. We are entering the season and Luke 1 is a good text to help us prepare. Perhaps any reading of Luke at all should pay attention to 1.1-4. It certainly helps us to understand the reason for details we find later. Luke tells us that many have told the story before. Servants of the word, ministers of the gospel, and other eyewitnesses have told the story of Jesus. Yet, Luke wants to tell it again. Luke wants to investigate details carefully. Luke wants us to understand what we’ve been told.

Immediately, Luke starts in with the details. In 1.5-7 things feel so historical, just the way Luke wants it. We discover right away the name of the king of Judea. We learn the name of one of the priests and the priestly division he belonged to. We learn the name of his wife and something about her family tree. We are told that they were of good character “righteous and obedient and blameless.” We are told they are old. And we are told the woman, Elizabeth, was barren.

That is a lot of historical information in only three verses. Perhaps we should state the obvious. No one comes to church to find out the name of a first century king, the name of a first century priest, or the birthing status of a first century woman. Yet, Luke tells these details because they belong to a story so important, they must be told.

We may not go to church to learn history, but Luke is on to something. If our faith is not rooted in history, our faith is broken and we should find something more credible to hang our hat on. That God acted in history gives us faith that God is acting in the present and will act in the future.

So, we listen to historical details in the text. We listen because Luke wants us to listen but also that we might feel it in our bones. God works in real places and among real people. There is good news to be found here and we do go to church in order to hear good news. This story and its details prepare us for a birth that will be announced in the next chapter as “good tidings of great joy” or “good news that will bring great joy.” That is to say, Luke is preparing us for gospel.

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