Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; Luke 2:21, 22-40; 1st Sunday of Advent

Scriptures for this Sunday: Luke 2:21-40

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV and ESV

Hymns for Sunday:

UMH 245 – The First Noel

UMH 247 – There’s a Song In the Air

UMH 246 – Joy to the World

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It is almost New Year. In three days’ time Anno Domini 2014 will be history and 2015 will be a reality. With that simple change we will be given a symbolical blank slate and a new start. Y’all know the routine. What worked and what did not work in 2014? What do we need to do differently in 2015?

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It is as if we are standing in between the end of one chapter and the beginning of another chapter of our lives. It is totally imaginary boundary because January 1st does not mark any celestial alignments, or beginning of any season. January 1st does not have any spiritual or religious significance. Yet somehow IT IS significant. It is a date that is filled with anticipation and excitement because new starts are always exciting. It is also a bittersweet place to be. It is a bittersweet place to be because not everything that we have thought, said, or done in 2014 was productive and not everything that we have done in 2014 will propel our journey forward in 2015.

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The reason I am getting all philosophical with you here is because that is what the period of time after the birth of Jesus was like. In our example of a year change, all of these thoughts, reflections, and excitement are inspired by a simple one-digit change of a calendar year. But, at the First Christmas, there was a much-much bigger excitement in the air. After the birth of Jesus, the whole of Creation stood at the edge [or threshold?] of a new era; an era when the Age to Come was beginning to be built. I am talking about the time when Jesus will return to establish the Kingdom of God.

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In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 we hear,

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. “

{ Explanation }

In order to understand today’s reading we need to look back into the Hebrew Scriptures. In Genesis chapter 17 verses 11 and 12 we hear God making a covenant with Abraham:

NIV Genesis 17:11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner … .

In Leviticus chapter 12 verses 1 through 6 we learn:

NIV Leviticus 12:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days … 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified … When the days of her purification … are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb … and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering.’”

{ // Explanation}

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Today’s Gospel reading describes two separate events in the life of Jesus. Eight days after his birth he was brought to the Temple for the ritual circumcision. Forty days after Jesus’ birth, the Holy Family came to the Temple for rituals of purification and to present a humble offering of two doves.

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Just like our calendar pages will be turned in three days ushering in 2015, the events that surround the birth of Jesus turned the page on the calendar of human history and have shifted all of God’s Creation into a new era. God is building something new; you and I are his tools and agents.

Just like the actions of his earthly parents in the first forty days of Jesus’ life reflected their connection with God, so do our actions have the potential to reflect God’s presence in our lives whether we are aware of it at the time or not.

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The life of Jesus tells a story. It is a story of God’s love and involvement in our lives. It is a story of God constantly changing and adapting God’s way of interacting with us. It is a story of our interactions with each other and how we can be instruments of God’s Grace in each other’s lives. The life of Jesus also tells a story of how we can be instruments of destruction in each other’s lives; think of Herod, Caiphas, Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot; all of them did what they thought was the right thing to do. The life of Jesus demonstrates that we have freedom to make choices, to learn from our past, prepare for the future and make the future a reality.

As we are getting ready to leave this sanctuary, we remember the Birth of Jesus, we remember his presence in our lives and we also recognize that our lives tell a story as well.

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