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

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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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Advent: God’s Prophecy Fulfilled, Marked by a Star over Bethlehem

BLCF: wisemen_and_star

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Advent: God’s Prophecy Fulfilled, Marked by a Star over Bethlehem’ 

© December 7, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Revised Sermon from © December 8, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin December 7, 2014

BLCF: o-come-emmanuel

 

BLCF Call to Worship and Prayer:

Responsive Reading #615 (Adoration of the Magi – from Matthew); Prayer                 

Opening Hymn #100: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 

Choruses                                          

Scripture Verses: Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7; Matthew 2:1-15

Let us pray…

Before I begin today’s lesson, let me briefly share with those in the congregation who missed last Friday’s BLCF Café Volunteer Appreciation Potluck Supper. We had just shy of 40 volunteers at the supper. Brother Rawle James was our Master of Ceremonies, and as MC asked each volunteer to share the name of place of birth and how Christmas is celebrated back home.

BLCF_Cafe_Volunteer_Potluck_1

One of our volunteers, a former captain, now working on her post graduate degree shared that she came from China and that she had accepted Jesus as her Saviour, and currently attends a local church. This Christmas she will return home for the first time in two years, as a Christian, bringing a whole new perspective to the meaning of the Holiday.

BLCF_Cafe_Volunteer_Potluck_2

Earlier this week at the café, a former regular guest of the Cafe, dropped by to say hello. This gentleman is only a few years younger than myself, had endured a hard childhood in in Belarus, suffering frequent beatings by his parents. My friend shared with me that he first came to the Café by happenstance, as he was walking by the church saw our invitation sign on the sidewalk and for some unknown reason, (which I believe was the Holy Spirit), decided to come inside.

 

As a new guest, he admitted that he was in a bad place, because of a severe pain in his lower back, causing his mood to be tempered by the nagging ailment. He then shared that on two occasions, volunteers approached him, perceiving that he had a problem. He said in both occasions, the volunteer took several minutes to pray with him for healing, referring to the volunteers as that lady who plays the piano (Margaret) and then pointing to the other volunteer who is in charge and is always rushing around (Sophie). The prayers were answered in three days, where our friend experienced a complete healing, with no pain. Something the doctors could not provide. This guest, like our volunteer, had accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, crediting to the love and compassion that he experienced at the dinner as the catalyst to his faith decision.

BLCF_Cafe_Wide

These two faith testimonials, along with that from a single mother who was a former long term guest, which I shared a few weeks ago, was God’s Holy Spirit giving the volunteers a blessing in appreciation for the ministry of the BLCF Café. God IS good! It is wonderful how God reveals Himself right here in the heart of Toronto.

BLCF: God_reveals_Himself

Now back to today’s lesson.

Today we celebrate the both Second Advent Sunday prior to Christmas Day and Communion Sunday, where we observe Jesus’ sacrifice prior to the advent of his return.

On this day we light candle commonly called the Peace Candle, also known as the Bethlehem Candle. Bethlehem being the birth place of the Christ child was foretold in Micah, chapter 5:

          Micah 5:2 (ESV)

2 [a] 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.                                                                                                                                               

Footnotes: a. Micah 5:2 Chapter 5:1 in Hebrew

BLCF: Nativity scene

You may recall from accounts from the Scriptures, which are also expressed in Christmas Hymns or Carols, and portrayed in both paintings and diorama like the Nativity Scene, several significant events occurred in the early life of our Lord Jesus Christ in the town of Bethlehem.

Having worked as a field supervisor for the last Canadian Census, I observed quite a different way to collect information for the government today than in the time of Jesus. For the census today, instead of returning to our respective place of birth, all we have to do is fill out a government survey/questionnaire either online or submit a hard copy by mail.

Most Canadians were required to complete census survey as a short form. However, roughly one in seven, including me, was given a longer form to complete. In spite of the relative ease and convenience of filling out a modern census form today, there is a greater resistance or reluctance to complete the census than in the time of Joseph and Mary. I think that perhaps the penalties given by the government of Rome at that time for refusing a decree from Caesar were far more severe than those given in Canada, today.

That is the reason why Joseph obediently brought Mary, who was due to deliver her first born, to their birthplace of Bethlehem to complete Caesar’s census, at a time that was close to her delivery date. They did not have the benefit of any legislation, such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to protect them from being subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

BLCF: marry-on-donkey-and-joseph-travel-to-bethlehem

In Luke 2:1-7, we see that due to a decree from Caesar Augustus, everyone in the known world, living under the rule of Caesar, had to go to the town of their birth to register, Luke 2:1-7 (ESV):

 The Birth of Jesus Christ

the-adoration-of-the-magi-jean-pierre-granger

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 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.                                      

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:2 Or This was the registration before b. Luke 2:5 That is, one legally pledged to be married

Mary, being aware that she would give birth to Jesus, the Son of God, was likely was unaware of God’s timing of her pregnancy and delivery of the Christ child in Bethlehem was a fulfillment of the prophecies.

Speaking of the prophecy, we have the account of the visit of the Magi, or the Wise Men, as we see in today’s second Scripture verse, Matthew 2:1-15 (ESV):

 The Visit of the Wise Men

BLCF: Three Kings

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

BLCF: three_wisemen_star

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

BLCF: Mary,Joseph,Jesus

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”                                                                                                                       

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16  b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

What conclusions can we draw of infer from the Scripter’s account of the Magi found in Matthew 2?

The Wise men came to Jerusalem from the east, apparently outside the jurisdiction of Rome and were not participating in census registration decreed by Cesar Augustus. Arriving in the city, the Wise Men were granted an audience with the local King Herod, which indicates that the Magi had an elevated status from commoners, who would not likely be able to go into the royal court to talk to even a minor king. It troubled Herod that the Magi had observed the star of Christ and had come to worship the new born king of the Jews so greatly that he consulted the chief priests and scribes of the Jewish people and found  that the prophecy was to be fulfilled in Bethlehem of Judea.

Here Herod conspires to kill the Christ Child, who posed a possible threat to his local rule, by asking the Wise Men to let him know the location of the Christ child under the ruse of worshiping him as well. However, the Magi are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and chose instead to go home by another route.

The account of the Wise Men is only found in Matthew’s Gospel, which does not diminish its significance to Christianity.  We often refer to the number of Magi or Wise Men as three, which we infer from the three gifts given to the Christ child, the Scriptures do not specify their number. For many Christians, the account of the Magi, found in the second chapter of Matthew, is included in their respective Epiphany Observances. Epiphany is a church holiday which ranks third importance on the Christian calendar, ranking behind below Easter and Christmas, respectively. But that is a topic for another lesson.

Lighting the Second Advent Candle: Bethlehem/Peace:

BLCF: Bethlehem_candle_of_love2

At the beginning of today’s message, we described the second candle, which is lit on the second Sunday of advent along with the first candle, as the Bethlehem or Peace candle, reminding us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and reminding us that it was a King, who was born in the manger, and as we read in Isaiah 9, Christ brings light into a dark world, as the Prince of Peace. Let us read from Isaiah Chapter 9, as we light the Second Advent Candle:

Isaiah 9:2-6 (ESV)

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 Chapter 9:1 in Hebrew b. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon c. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called

BLCF: animation_candle_flame free

May we thank God for the Prince of Peace, who gave the promise of salvation, forgiveness and peace in the little town of Bethlehem underneath the guiding light of a start of Christ.

Let us pray…

Communion Observance: 1 Corinthians 11:22-27 (ESV):

BLCF: communion

22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[b] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 11:24 Some manuscripts broken for b.1 Corinthians 11:24 Or as my memorial; also verse 25

Closing Hymn #121: O Little Town of Bethlehem

BLCF: blessed-advent

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: Isaiah 9_2-6

Advent: Filled with the Joy and Peace in Believing

 BLCF: Root_of_Jesse

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Advent: Filled with the Joy and Peace in Believing’  

© November 30, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Revised Sermon Shared by Steve Mickelson at BLCF on December 1, 2013

BLCF Bulletin November 30, 2014

BLCF: from_darkness_to_light

 

BLCF Call to Worship and Prayer:

Responsive Reading #632 (God’s Redeeming Love of Prayer – From John 3 and 1 John 4); Prayer                                                                      

Hymn #248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain

Today’s Scriptures: Isaiah 9:2-6, Luke 1:30-35, Romans 15:12-13

Isaiah 9:2-6 (ESV)

BLCF: Isaiah_9_2

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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 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 Chapter 9:1 in Hebrew b. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon c. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called

Luke 1:30-35

BLCF: Advent -Mary and Angel

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

Romans 15:12-13 (ESV)

BLCF: Romans_15_12

12 And again Isaiah says,                                                                                                    

“The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

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: advent_root_of_jesse

 

Let us pray…

This is the first Sunday of Advent, where traditionally Christian Church observes the first of the four Sundays before Christmas Day, or the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace and the author of our salvation.

For our lesson today, let us look at the first Advent observance.  In Isaiah 9, verses 2 to 6, we have an account by Isaiah, a Prophet of God, written some seven centuries before the events took place. The prophecy describes a world not too different from our world today, some twenty seven centuries after Isaiah’s time. In both times, people walk and dwell in darkness. Darkness being both sin and sin’s judgment thanks to the influence of Satan, who after all, is the Prince of Darkness.

It is noteworthy that people have tendency to want to see, hear and read, a long story in short form. That is why such publications as Readers Digest are successful in condensing relatively long articles and books into shorter versions of the original. You may be aware of the frequently used acronym “KISS”, which stands for “Keep It Short Stupid.”

Reading (sic) Digest

Reading (sic) Digest

 

It is not surprising that Christian Churches today frequently represent the advent or coming of the Christ Child as the four Sunday’s or month prior to Christmas Day, when Isaiah’s prophecy was revealed some seven centuries previously. We talk about Mary’s encounter with an angel less than a month before the event, condensed from nine months that a pregnancy requires.

It is understandable that even some Christians assume that there is brevity in the duration of time it took between the prophecy and birth of Christ.  What do I mean about brevity. Time for our wikibits for a quick definition:

 

 BLCF: brevity

brevity /ˈbrɛvɪtɪ/ noun (pl) -ties

  1. conciseness of expression; lack of verbosity
  2. a short duration; brief time

 Word Origin and History for brevity Expand

– noun c.1500, from Latin brevitatem (nominative brevitas) “shortness” in space or time, from brevis “short”.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/brevity

BLCF: bible-and-newspaper

My dad was a career journalist who would often say that the newspapers he worked for expected him to write the first paragraph of an article as a complete synopsis of all the important details of the story.

This was done so that a copy editor could cut paragraphs from the bottom of the article, as needed to make room for other important articles to be inserted, just before press time. We find Wikipedia has an apt description of this technique of “copy editing” used for print publications, as well as other forms of news media:

Article Publishing (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

BLCF: extra_extra

While a good conclusion is an important ingredient for newspaper articles, the immediacy of a deadline environment means that copy editing often takes the form of deleting everything past an arbitrary point in the story corresponding to the dictates of available space on a page. Therefore, newspaper reporters are trained to write in inverted pyramid style, with all the most important information in the first paragraph or two. If the less vital details are pushed towards the end of the story, then the potentially destructive impact of draconian copy editing will be minimized.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_(publishing)

Journalism (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

BLCF: brevity1

The role and status of journalism, along with that of the mass media, has undergone profound changes over the last two decades with the advent of digital technology and publication of news on the Internet. This has created a shift in the consumption of print media channels, as people increasingly consume news through e-readers, smartphones, and other electronic devices, challenging news organizations to fully monetize their digital wing, as well as improvise on the context in which they publish news in print. Notably, in the American media landscape, newsrooms have reduced their staff and coverage as traditional media channels, such as television, grapple with declining audiences. For instance, between 2007 and 2012, CNN edited its story packages into nearly half of their original time length.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism

We see today that society has become used to receiving information in a format that is both short and condensed. Even the latest media forms try to convey message in the form of a short sound bite:

Sound bite (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

BLCF: abstract-word-cloud-for-sound-bite-with-related-tags-and-terms

A sound bite is a short clip of speech or music extracted from a longer piece of audio, often used to promote or exemplify the full length piece. In the context of journalism, a sound bite is characterized by a short phrase or sentence that captures the essence of what the speaker was trying to say, and is used to summarize information and entice the reader or viewer. The term was coined by the U.S. media in the 1970s. Since then, politicians have increasingly employed sound bites to summarize their positions.

BLCF: jonathan-leavey-quote-there-is-not-a-good-30-second-sound-bite-there

 

Due to its brevity, the sound bite often overshadows the broader context in which it was spoken, and can be misleading or inaccurate. The insertion of sound bites into news broadcasts or documentaries is open to manipulation, leading to conflict over journalistic ethics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_bite

BLCF: Shakespeare ala twitter
Shakespeare ala twitter

The danger in the brief sound bite is passing on misleading or inaccurate information. Can you imagine The Sermon on the Mount being recorded as a twitter, with a limit of only 140 characters, or the having to condense Paul’s Letters of the Romans down to a single paragraph? Imagine what would be lost. The apostles could ill-afford to cut the Gospel as a matter of convenience to its readers or by restrictions dictated by the publishers of the medium. We need to be mindful how of long it took for the promise of a Messiah bringing to reach its completion.

 

BLCF: SoundBite_Issue

Isaiah had predicted that into the darkness, a great light will come. Often the Scriptures refer to the presence of light and fire as indicative the power and presence of God. We see that the light that comes will be a child, called Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Mighty God. Isaiah describes the advent of Jesus Christ some 700 years in his future.

Between the time of Isaiah and the birth of Christ, there were centuries of darkness: sin, suffering and death. Like today, where people of faith wait for Christ’s return, generations have waited with anticipation for the fulfillment of a prophet’s vision from God.

BLCF: Gods_Word

 

Even the people of Israel, who were delivered from the bondage of slavery in Egypt to God’s “Promised Land,” which was not just a land of milk and honey, but a land where the people would see Promise of a new Covenant, through Jesus Christ come to past.

In our second Scripture Verse for today, Roman’s 15, verses 12-13, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah, pointing out that root of Jesse a ruler will come, who gives hope to the Gentiles. You may recall that Jesse was the father of David and only after 600 years does a king arise among the descendants of David.  And how will this new king rule? For the answer to this question, let us review Isaiah 11:1-5 (ESV):

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

BLCF: O-Root-of-Jesse

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

Both of today’s Scripture verses offer the promise of peace. Isaiah 9:6 states:

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

The Apostle Paul echoes this message of peace in Romans 15:13 where we read:

 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. 

But what is meant by the “root of Jesse.” We know that Jesse was the father of King David, but our wikibits, from biblestudytools.com, provide us with a better, more comprehensive understanding of this Scripture prophecy from the book of Isaiah:

In Isaiah 11:10: there shall be a root of Jesse.

This prophecy is applied to the Messiah by the Jews, who say,                                  

“that when the King Messiah is revealed, there shall be gathered to him all the nations of the world, so that that Scripture shall be fulfilled which is written, “there shall be a root of Jesse””

This character, “the root of Jesse”, may be understood of Christ with respect to his divine nature, who, as God, was before Jesse, and the author of his being, as of all creatures; just in such sense as he is called “the root and offspring of David”, ( Revelation 5:5 ) ( 22:16 ) ; the root of David, as he is God, and the offspring of David, as he is man; unless both are to be interpreted of his human nature, as the phrase here also may be, and denote his descent from Jesse as man; and so the Jewish writers interpret it as well as some Christian ones.

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/romans-15-12.html

Who is the first to witness the fulfilment of a 700 year old prophecy that describes the advent of a new king who is also God? It was Mary.

The Bible tells us that for important messages, God often relied upon one of His angels to inform Mary of God’s plan, particularly when the message may bring worry or fear to the recipient. We find an example of this in Luke 1, verses 30-35, which is found on the back page of your bulletin:

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

Mary is informed by God’s angel that she has been chosen to be mother of the Son of the Most High or the Son of God, who will be a descendant of King David, who you recall, was the son of Jesse. And this be King shall reign forever.

The angel’s message to Mary causes her to ask the angel how she can have a child, since she is a virgin. The angel then explains to Mary that by power of God she will become pregnant to the Son of God.

Just as God had breathed life into a lump of clay to make Adam, and use a rib from Adam to form Eve, God will bring forth His only begotten son through Mary. Mary was the only person to witness all of these important events in the Life of our Lord:

She was first to know the Advent of Jesus’ birth, at the wedding in Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle, witnessing his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his gift of the Holy Spirit.

Our study today gives a perspective of an event from three different people, in three different time frames. Isaiah tells of the birth of Jesus as a prophetic vision some 700 years in the prophet’s future.

Next, Luke tells the same story as a visitation by an angel to Mary in her present time.

Then, in the verse from Romans, Paul gives a perspective of Isaiah’s vision and Mary’s angelic message reaching fruition as an event in Paul’s historical past that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to bring hope to humanity, salvation to all people and light into the darkness of the world.

And finally, we see that the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus’ mother Mary and the Apostle Paul are people of great faith. Their faith is a product of the revelation and understanding of God’s purpose by way of the Holy Spirit.

As apostles of the Lord, we are commissioned to open the eyes of others to the truth of the Scriptures, which records the Gospel of Christ Jesus, the Word made flesh.

BLCF: hope eyes

Let us pray…

Lighting the First Advent Candle: Prophecy and Peace

BLCF: animation_candle_flame free

Inside today’s bulletin is a few paragraphs from Wikipedia giving a synopsis of the Christian practice of lighting candles on the four Advent Sundays just prior to Christmas Day. I would like to direct you to the second paragraph, which reads as follows:

Advent Candles (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

advent-wreath

In Protestant churches it is more common to use four red candles (reflecting their traditional use in Christmas decorations) because rose vestments and decorations are not commonly used in Protestant churches. Blue is also a popular alternative color for both Advent vestments and Advent candles, especially in some Anglican and Lutheran churches. This is in keeping with the liturgical seasons; blue means hope and waiting, which aligns with the seasonal meaning of Advent. Other variations of the Advent wreath add a white candle in the center to symbolize Christmas, sometimes known as the “Christ candle.” It can be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. White is the traditional festal color in the Western church. Four red candles with one white one is probably the most common arrangement in Protestant churches in Britain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent_wreath

So in anticipation of the advent Isaiah’s prophecy, and Mary’s revelation of the birth of the Messiah, we light the first Candle of Advent, which is called the candle of prophecy and peace.

Hymn #102: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

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: Isaiah 9_2-6