Anticipating the Joy of Christ

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Joy of Christ

© December 11, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: bulletin-december-11-2016

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Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #631:                        Incarnate Christ (John 1); Prayer                                                              

Lighting Third Advent Candle (Joy) – Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

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12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee                                                                    

Hymn #106: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing   

Hymn #100: O Come, O Come Emmanuel                                                                     

Hymn #103: O Come, All Ye Faithful                                                                  

Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                                 

Today’s Scriptures: Luke 2:7-20, Luke 15:7, Luke 10:21-24, John 16:16-24     

BLCF: Good News of Great Joy

Let us pray…

Before I begin our lesson today, by acknowledging some thirty or so volunteers from Wednesday’s BLCF Café Community Dinner who attended last Friday’s Volunteer Appreciation Potluck Dinner. It is great to have an opportunity to recognize the hours of dedicated service spent serving the least of our brothers and sisters.

I would to remind the BLCF Congregation of our own Church Potluck Luncheon, next Sunday afternoon following the Worship Service. We hope that you are able to attend.

Our lesson for this the third Sunday of Advent is entitled: ‘Anticipating the Joy of Christ’, where the world anticipated the joy that arrived with the birth of the Christ Child, Jesus, as we read in the first of today’s Scripture passages, Luke 2:7-20 (ESV), where one of a host of angels of the Lord shares the news with the shepherds:

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

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And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[
a]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men

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The shepherds and the angels account found in Luke 2 does remind me of another passage about joy among those in heaven, Luke 15:7 (ESV):

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

I find it interesting that all of heaven, including God’s angels celebrate, when a sinner accepts the gift of Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Lord the Lord explained at the conclusion of his ‘Parable of the Lost Sheep’.

I think it is fair to conclude that the Heavenly Host broke into song at the birth of the Christ child, because they knew that Jesus came to fulfill Gods’ desire to demonstrate His love and desire for reconciliation Himself and all people, of their sins and the promise of a New Covenant for all who have faith and trust in His Divine plan. Thus sinners who repent receive His forgiveness, because He loves us, John 3:16 (ESV), because:

For God So Loved the World

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16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world

And with the birth of Jesus, let us reflect upon the message of joy from the angels witnessed by the shepherds. God gave us, through His only son Jesus, a path to reconciliation and salvation leading to humanity’s joy as represented the third Advent Candle lit at the beginning of our service today.

Jesus finds joy with those who find knowledge and understanding of God’s will and purpose, as we read in our next Scripture passage, Luke 10:21-24 (ESV):

Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will

'The Joy found in Christ's Friendship' (John 15:11)

‘The Joy found in Christ’s Friendship’ (John 15:11)

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[a] 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 10:21 Or for so it pleased you well

Through Jesus, the sorrows suffered by humanity will turn into joy, which is told in today’s third Scripture passage, John 16:16-24 (ESV):

 Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

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16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

God’s joy and humanity’s joy are both made complete when we accept and believe in His message of salvation through the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, our Lord, Jesus. We find this Word of Life on the front of today’s BLCF Bulletin, found in 1 John 1:1-4 (ESV);

The Word of Life

BLCF: Word became flesh

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 1:4 Some manuscripts your

This Christmas, let us not only remember the joy associated with the birth of the Christ Child, but honor the Lord’s gifts of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life, through Jesus which truly completes our joy.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #120: Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come

Benediction – (Romans 15:13):

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.

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Advent – Christ’s Promise and Reward Beyond the Dash

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Advent – Christ’s Promise and Reward Beyond the Dash’

© December 4, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

blcf-bulletin-december-4-2016

BLCF: advent-wreath-main

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #614: Peace and Renewal (Micah 4 and 7); Prayer                                                                                   

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, where today we have a dual Advent Observe Service: the first being second Sunday of Advent and we shall observe the second advent of Jesus by partaking the elements of Communion.

BLCF: second-sunday-of-advent2

But what is meant by coming of the Lord, which has yet to take place, by observing Communion as a single Church or Body of Believers. The Wikibits definition of Advent found on the back of today’s Bulletin indicates:

ad·vent ˈadˌvent/noun
noun: advent; plural noun: advents

  1. The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
    G. “the advent of television”
  2. Synonyms: arrival, appearance, emergence, materialization, occurrence, dawn, birth, rise, development; 
    approach, coming
    G. “the advent of a new school year”
  3. antonyms: disappearance

Advent is the first season of the Christian Church Year leading up to Christmas, and including, the four preceding Sundays.
noun: Advent

In Christian Theology; Advent denotes the coming, or second coming, of Christ.
noun: Advent

https://www.google.ca/search?q=advent+definition&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=_gRbVobdA8O9eZb4tNgF

Lighting of the Second Advent Candle

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Many Christians in Canada celebrate the beginning of the Advent season on the first Sunday of Advent. It marks the start of the Christian year in western Christianity.  And each of the four Sunday’s prior to Christmas, most Christians light a candle representing a virtue associated with Jesus. The candles often are set within an evergreen wreath. The evergreen boughs signifying renewal and eternal life and the circular shape is symbolic of the eternal perfection of God.  In the centre of the wreath it is common to place a fifth candle, called the Christ Candle that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas day to signify the Savior’s birth.

Last Sunday, we lit the first of our four Advent Candles, called Candle of Prophecy or Hope, to represent the 800 years humanity waited for the prophecy to be completed, which is the arrival the Christ, the Messiah.

Today, we light a second Advent Candle, also known as the Candle of Peace and Fulfilment. And as the candle is lit, I will read from Ephesians 2:13-18, which is found inside today’s bulletin, within the Order of Service:

Lighting of the Second Advent Candle – Ephesians 2:13-18 (ESV):

BLCF: Peace through Jesus

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Opening Hymn #104: It Came upon the Midnight Clear; Choruses                 

Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                        

Today’s Scriptures: Micah 5:1-5, Isaiah 9:6, Haggai 2:1-9

BLCF: 2nd-advent-sunday

Let us pray…

Just as Sunday is a time to rest and reflect on what God had accomplished in the preceding six days all that is good, on Advent Sunday we should focus upon the virtues brought to the world with the birth of Jesus.

Unlike the life of other people, whose accomplishments are bracketed between their date of birth and the day of their passing, represented by the dash found between the day of birth and time of death, Jesus impacted the world before and after the period which he lived with the humanity of this world.

The prophecy of Christ’s birth engendered hope among the people, which led to faith. The birth in Bethlehem, of the ‘Prince of Peace’, is prophesized in Micah 5:1-5 (ESV):

The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem

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[a] Now muster your troops, O daughter[b] of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
2 [
c] But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.

Footnotes: a. Micah 5:1 Chapter 4:14 in Hebrew b. Micah 5:1 That is, city . Micah 5:2 Chapter 5:1 in Hebrew

But it is the events before the Lord’s birth and after His crucifixion that make the true foundation of our faith. The anticipation of His birth and what happened after His crucifixion inspire humanity’s faith. Advent anticipates the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, who is the Son of God.

In our second Scripture passage, from Haggai 2:1-9 (ESV), we have prophesied  the shaking of the heavens and the earth, including the dry land and sea, and all the treasures will be reclaimed. But the Lord promises to keep His covenants, to have his Spirit present in the midst of His flock and in place of the worldly destruction, he will provide a chosen one who will bring the peace of God, by way of a cross, in order to restore His temple, which is the Body of Believers:

 The Coming Glory of the Temple

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2 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”

Christ came not to just fulfill prophecy, but implement God’s plan. That plan was not to revoke God’s judgement and punishment for our sin, but Christ would take both the judgement and punishment for sin upon Himself.

Jesus was born and raised among humanity as both the son of man and Son of God, who in time taught, ministered, healed, and ultimately sacrificed His life for His brothers and sisters.

If that were all there was to the story of Christ, the world might conclude that Jesus was caring, loving prophet of God. But Jesus was not a prophet, but God’s fulfillment of His prophecy. Though Jesus died for our sins, he overcame death by the power of the Spirit, proving that he is truly the Way, the Resurrection, and the Life. Jesus, alone, is the door to heaven.

After Christ stayed on earth after His resurrection, he ascended to heaven, seated beside his Father to act as our advocated. Then from heaven, the Lord sent God’s Holy Spirit to consul, to comfort, to admonish, and to lead humanity on the path of righteousness. What Jesus before and after the dash of his time on earth is as important as what he accomplished here, for it respectively represents the promise and reward of our faith.

Our final Scripture, Isaiah 9:6, refers to the Godhead or Holy Trinity of our might God, Who as the Holy Spirit is a Wonderful Counselor; Who  also is: the Maker, the Everlasting Father; and as Jesus our Savior, the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV):

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For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[
a] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[
b]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon b. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called

Let us pray…

Communion: Responsive Reading #626 (Mark 14)                                                   

Closing Hymn #117: Silent Night! Holy Night!                             

Benediction – (Philippians 4:7): And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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