Advent: Angels Announcing the Good News of Peace, Salvation and the Glory of Christ

BLCF: light-of-the-world

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Advent: Rejoicing in Light of the Lord’

© December 21, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Revised Message First Shared at BLCF on December 22, 2013

BLCF Bulletin December 21, 2014

 BLCF: christmas_angel_joy

BLCF Call to Worship and Prayer:

Responsive Reading #627 (The Savior’s Advent – Luke 2); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #113: Angels We Have Heard on High

Today’s Scriptures: Scriptures: Ezekiel 34:23, Luke 2:15-20 and John 10:11

 

BLCF: 4_advent-candle_wreath

Let us pray…

Let us begin today’s lesson by lighting the fourth and final Candle of Advent before Christmas, now as the Candle of Joy or Angel’s Candle. Let us reflect upon the verse John 1:5 (ESV):

Walking in the Light

Light over darkness

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

The fourth candle, lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent, is called the Angel’s Candle or the Candle of Joy. As we light this flame, we are reminded of the heavenly hosts that proclaimed Christ’s arrival with “Behold, I bring unto you good tiding of great joy!” The Angel candle is also purple, reminding us that it was a King’s birth that the angels proclaimed.

As we light the Fourth Advent Candle: Candle of Joy or Angel’s Candle, may we read from Psalm 126:2-3 (ESV):

BLCF: great joy in the light

  2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.

This is the fourth and final Sunday of the Advent Season, where we observe the events foretold in Scripture of the birth of the Christ child, Jesus, the Messiah or Christ anticipated and promised by God. Over the last three Sundays, we studied in Scripture how God revealed to the prophets, the Magi, Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds the birth of Jesus. God revealed the event by way of Devine Prophecy, dreams, visitation of angelic messengers, and a star. Each Advent Sunday, we lit a candle and read appropriate verses.

Though worshipers may vary the order of the designation or name of the four Advent Candles, which is really not as important as acknowledging that, after the four Sundays of Advent, that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem to complete God’s covenant. The Advent and Christ Candles, all remind us that Christ came to bring light into a dark world, filled with sin. Let us review the order of Advent candles lit here at BLCF over the last month, what they represent and one of the verses that we read for each respective Sunday:

BLCF: Advent Candles

The 1st Advent Candle: Hope/Prophecy (Luke 1:30-35)

30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[a]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[b] will be called holy—the Son of God.

Footnotes: a. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man b. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you

The 2nd Advent Candle: Bethlehem/Peace (Isaiah 9:2-6)     

2 [a] The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon[b] his shoulder, and his name shall be called[c] Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:2 Ch 9:1 in Hebrew b. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon c. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called

The 3rd Advent Candle: Shepherds’ Candle/ Candle of Love  (Isaiah 52:7)

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Cross references: 1. Isaiah  ed oil could be processed. at her breathed life into his creation.  52:7 : Nah. 1:15; Cited Rom. 10:15 2. Isaiah 52:7 : ch. 40:9

The 4th Advent Candle: Candle of Joy/Angel’s Candle              (Psalm 126:2-3)

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.

The 5th Candle: Christ Candle (John 8:12)

And this Wednesday, on Christmas Day, we will light the Christ Candle and among other verses, read John 8:12 (ESV):

   I Am the Light of the World

BLCF: Light Of The World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Mary Fairchild in Christianity.about.dot com gives a further explanation of what the light, represented today by a lit candle, signifies:

Christianity Symbols Illustrated Glossary: Light in the Bible

BLCF: burning_bush

Light represents the presence of God. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and to the Israelites in the pillar of flame.

BLCF: Exodus_13-GodLedIsraelInPillarsOfCloudAndFire

The eternal flame of God’s presence was to be lit in the Temple in Jerusalem at all times. In fact, in the Jewish Feast of Dedication or “Festival of Lights” we remember the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple after being desecrated under Greco-Syrian captivity. Even though they only had enough sacred oil for one day, God miraculously causes the eternal flame of his presence to burn for eight days, until more purified oil could be processed.

BLCF: burning_bush

Light also represents the direction and guidance of God. Psalm 119:105 says God’s Word is a lamp to the feet and a light to our path. 2 Samuel 22 says the Lord is a lamp, turning darkness into light.

http://christianity.about.com/od/symbolspictures/ig/Christian-Symbols-Glossary/Light-of-the-World.htm

BLCF: answered_by_fire_by_rob_joseph

But today, the forth Advent Sunday, we will light what is called the ‘Angel’s Candle’ or the ‘Candle of Joy’.

 

BLCF: Joy Angel

I think that we all can easily understand the feeling of joy and the message of joy delivered by the angels to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.

Angel means messenger and God often had His angels deliver important news to people, ensuring that the message was understood.

It is worthwhile noting that after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the disciples were no longer the Lord’s disciples or students, but having been appointed, by way of Jesus’ Great Commission, to be the Lord’s apostles or messengers of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus. All believers in Christ are the Lord’s apostles or messengers. In that regard, as God’s appointed messengers, we have something in common with God’s other messengers, the angels, which is to deliver His Word unto the ends of the earth.

And as believers in the Resurrected Christ, we are vessels of God’s Holy Spirit. No longer is the Ark Covenant the sole vessel of God’s presence revealed only to prophets and high priests. For after Pentecost, the Lord sent the Holy Spirit of God to dwell inside each and every believer, to empower in to sharing of the Gospel, discerning God’s direction through the Scriptures and in their own lives.

Let us return to the Christmas Story and the significance of lighting candles to represent the light of Christ. Earlier, when recalling the Second Advent Sunday, I read from Isaiah 9:2-6, where people who walk in darkness have found a great light. We continue that thought in two of today’s Scripture verse from, the 3rd and 8th Chapter of John’s Gospel:

I believe that touched upon the fact that God uses His angels to deliver messages of great importance and significance to the recipients of the messages. For additional information on the heavenly hosts, I found that Michael K. Jones authored a brief summary found on the back page of today’s bulletin, entitled ‘Angels in Scriptures’:      

 Angels in Scriptures – by Michael K. Jones

BLCF: Apparition-to-the-Shepherds

Angels are pure spirits created by God. Their apparitions and missions by God are constantly mentioned in the Bible. The original meaning of the word “Angel” is messenger; and in general it can be said that although the word is sometimes used of other persons acting as messengers (e.g., human persons, Isaiah 18:2 ; 33:7) normally its use is restricted to the pure spirits who act as divine messengers. Thus God send angels to announce His will, to correct, punish, teach, rebuke, and console (Psalm 102:20; Matthew 4:11; 13:49; 26:53).

 

BLCF: Revelation

 

Angels were created by God probably at the same time as creation. They were not created all equal (Daniel 10:13) they are commonly grouped into three hierarchies with three choirs each, the name of which are mentioned in the Bible: seraphim (Isaiah6:2,6), cherubim (Genesis 3:24 ; Ezekiel 10:1-22) and Thrones (Colossians1:16) dominations (Colossians 1:16), virtues (1 Peter 3:22), powers (Colossians 1:16 ; 1 Pet. 3:22), principalities (Colossians 1:16), archangels (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and angels. But they were all destined for the glorious vision of God depending on the outcome of a trial to which God subjected them. In this trial some rebelled against God and were consequently cast into hell (2 Peter 2:4).

The good angels can see God (Matthew 18:10), are called sons of God (Job 1:6 ; 38:7), aid those who fear God (Psalm 33:8 ; 90:11), are guardians of countries (Daniel 4:10,20 ; 10:10 ,13, 20, 21 ; Acts 16:6) and of individuals (Matthew 18:10) The thought that God appoints an angel to guard every soul from the moment of its birth is a common theological teaching. These so called guardian angels are referenced in the Scriptures (Psalm 90:11; Matthew 18:10).

Angels who did not preserve grace but fell from their high state together with Satan (2 Peter 2:4 ; Jude 1:6) are called fallen angels, angels of the devil, or angels of the dragon (Matthew 25:41).

Having driven man out of the Garden of Eden, God placed the Cherubim at its gates as guards (Genesis 3:24).Angels were sent to assist Agar (Genesis 16:27; 21:17), Abraham (Genesis 18; 22:11), Lot (Genesis 19), Jacob (Genesis 28:12-22) Elias (3 Kings 19:5) the three children (Daniel 3:49) , and Daniel (Daniel 6:22).  The Law was given through angels (Hebrews 2:2).

An angel guided the people of Israel (Hebrews 12: 22); (Numbers 20:16). God promised to send an angel to His people (Exodus 23:20 ; 33-2), sent to prevent Balaam from cursing His people (Numbers 22:22), and sent another to Joshua (Joshua 5:13-14) And angel rebuked the people (Judges 2:1-4), directed Gideon (Judges 6:11-40), appeared to Samson’s mother (Judges 13:4-21), punished David (2 Kings 24:16), directed Elias (3 Kings 19:5 ; 4 Kings 1:3-15), and defeated the Assyrians (4 Kings 19:35). Angles also explained visions (Daniel 8:16; 9:21; 10:5 10, 16).

An angel appeared to  Joseph (Matthew 1:20 ; 2:13-19) to Zachary (Luke 1:11, 19-20), to the Mary (Luke 1:26-38), to the shepherds (Luke 2:8,15) to our Lord in His agony (Luke 22:43), to the disciples after the Resurrection (Matthew 28:2) and after the Ascension (Acts 1:10), and to Paul (Acts 27:23).

God sent an angel to assist Peter (Acts 10:19; 12:7-11), Cornelius (Acts 10:3; 11:13) the eunuch of Queen Candace (Acts 8:2639): to aid the sick (John 5:4), and to bear the just to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22).

Angels desire to know the mystery of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:12). They will summon men to judgment (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) although they know not the day (Mark 13:32), and will come with Christ to judge mankind (Matthew 16:27; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).

 

BLCF: Annunciation_to_the_Shepherds

We have a good idea how angels fit into Scriptures. But, let us focus on the Christmas Story and the significance of lighting candles to represent the light of Christ. Earlier, when recalling the Second Advent Sunday, I read from Isaiah 9:2-6, where people who walk in darkness have found a great light. We continue that thought in two of today’s Scripture verse from, the 3rd and 8th Chapter of John’s Gospel:

  John 3:19-21 (ESV)

BLCF: God-speaks-to-Elijah

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

 John 8:12 (ESV) I Am the Light of the World

BLCF; I Am The Light Of The World

 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Though we Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, having ascended into heaven is unseen by us, we celebrate through faith in the gift of salvation and sanctification he gave us, by taking upon himself the judgment of the sins of all humanity and we have Emmanuel, which means God with us. For a short time God was with humanity in the form of Jesus Christ, who referred to himself as the ‘Son of Man’. But upon his death, and after his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, so that all believers may experience Emmanuel or presence of God through the Holy Spirit, as expressed so succinctly in today’s third Scripture verse from 1 Peter:

 1 Peter 1:8-9 (ESV) 

God_reveals_Himself

                                                  

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

On Christmas Eve, we will light the Fifth Candle or Christ Candle and reflect upon the following significant aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ Candle

BLCF: Christ Candle

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus and rejoice in His coming to us, we light the Christ candle.

Jesus Christ is our hope. He is our peace.

Jesus Christ is our joy. He is love– pure, holy, undying love.

Whoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD! (Psalm 4:6b)

BLCF: Blessed-Christmas

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #120: Joy To The World

Benediction – (Romans 15:13)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

BLCF: Good News of Great Joy

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