We’ve made it! How could four short weeks feel like such a long time? On December 3, we began our Advent journey, and we’ve finally made it to the season of Christmas. Yes, Christmas officially goes from December 25 – January 7 which marks Epiphany (meaning manifestation).
We have come a long way. We began the series on December 3 with a reading from Isaiah, in which the people of Israel were feeling estranged from the Lord God. They confessed their sins, took responsibility for their transgressions, and begged the Lord to return to them and redeem them.
The reality is that none of us are the same. During our Advent journey we have confessed of our sins and taken responsibility for our transgressions, and we have prepared our hearts to receive Christ anew. We have grown in knowledge and love as we prepared our hearts for the Coming of Christ, Emmanuel, God with us!
As we move into the next season and our next series, we will join in the work of evangelism: proclaiming to all the world that God sent Jesus into the world for the salvation of all. Today’s gospel reading from Luke reminds us to give thanks to God for the showing forth of Christ in this world and for his showing forth in our own lives.
And let us not leave our light to dwindle, but rather, let us, like Simeon and Anna, go forth to shine anew because the light of Christ has come into the world, and the darkness can never put it out.
Jesus’ incarnation came in a way no one expected. You know Kings are noble folk, born in palaces and places of prime real estate, heralded and lavished over, celebrated and acclaimed.
But this king, Jesus, was born where animals were kept, and except for the angels from heaven, no one else seemed overly worried or interested in the birth of this baby, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He was the most unique gift ever given.
How many of you here this morning have ever received a gift that was unique?
Maybe it was gift you wanted, but did so much more than you were aware of or imagined it could do. Maybe it was a gift that you had no idea what it was or how it worked, and yet after much investigation, trial and error, and use, became a treasured gift. That’s how the gift of Jesus was and is.
Notice what our scripture reminds us, “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” God took on flesh and became human, so that we might become like God, and, in order to become like God, we must be adopted. “Because you are his sons & daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out “Abba, Father.”
Upon our adoption by God, God placed God’s spirit within each one of us, the Spirit that enables us to call God Abba, Father. Abba is an affectionate term, it would be equivalent to the term “Daddy” in modern language. “So, you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also and heir.” So, this gift that came wrapped in human flesh and was given to many who said “what is this thing the angels have spoken about? let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.”
So many were unsure of who He was and what He could and would do, and yet He came so that we would “no longer be slaves, but counted as God’s child. Since we are God’s child God has made us heirs.”
It is my hope and prayer that each of you will continue to ask and wrestle with the question of “How does this thing work?” in your relationship with God and Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. This gift that we have been given is more than a nice story, it’s more than simply about salvation, it’s about a God who loves you and me so furiously and relentlessly that he would wrap himself in the paper of human flesh, and come to us and adopt us so that we might be considered family and heirs to the kingdom of God!
The gift of God is like that Christmas gift that is unique and continues to amaze you and cause you to ask, “How does this thing work?” May God amaze you and continue to draw you more closely to him as you call Him Abba, Father, and as you treasure His wonderful gift. Let us Pray.
To reach Pastor Gene Turner, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.