First Baptist Church of Minneola
- HUM - The Advent Virus — Anonymous via emailWARNING……WARNING: ADVENT VIRUSBe on the alert for symptoms of inner Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.Some signs and symptoms of The Advent Virus:A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.A loss of interest in judging other people.A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.A loss of interest in conflict.A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.Frequent attacks of smiling.An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.This morning we are beginning our Christmas 2018 season.We are looking forward to a time of celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus.Historically many Christians know this time as “Advent.”Some celebrate it with special prayers and often include it as part of their family prayer life as they approach Christmas.In my home growing up we had an advent ring similar to this one.We’d read Bible passages about Jesus and pray with one another.For us, it was just as much a part of Christmas as putting up the Christmas tree.Let me tell you a bit about this tradition.The Advent wreath began in the time of the Protestant reformer Martin Luther.The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God.In some churches, four purple candles, one for each week in Advent, are used with one larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle.Other churches prefer three purple or blue candles with one candle being rose or pink, to represent joy.While the Advent wreath with its four candles did bring light to churches, it was not to illuminate the interior as much as to symbolize the coming of Christ.Some churches use the candles to focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.Other churches consider the lighting of the first candle to symbolize expectation, while the second symbolizes hope, the third joy and the fourth purity.The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world.For our purpose, we’ll light the first candle, the prophecy candle, or the candle of expectation.Advent Ring Symbolism: Prophecy, Love, Joy, Peace, & Jesus CandlesWeek 1- The Prophecy Candle, which represents the Prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold of Christ’s coming. Week 2- The Bethlehem or Manger Candle, which represents Love. Week3- The Shepherd’s Candle, rose colored marking the mid point of advent, which represents Joy or time for rejoicing. Week 4- The Angel’s Candle, which represents Peace.On Christmas, the white represents Jesus.INTRO - The Israelites had to wait for the Messiah just like you and I have to wait for Christmas each year.The people who heard the prophecy of Isaiah had to wait for it to come to pass.Of course, they waited much longer.Lighting the Advent candle does remind people of the wait.Also, it reminds us that the Incarnation was not an afterthought.God planned to become man and redeem the earth with the blood of Jesus.The Bible reminds us that He planned this all before time:and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.EST - Our passage this morning notes “to us a child is born.”ESS - In our message we will note the humanity of Jesus, born like us, and given for us.OSS - At the end of our time we will take a moment to marvel at what God foretold, recall why Jesus was born, and how he brought salvation to the earth.TRANS - Let us travel back to the days of the prophet Isaiah and listen in to the word spoken about Jesus’ birth to the people of Israel.What does it say?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.What does it mean?We lit the Prophesy candle on this Advent Wreath this morning.People had to wait for Jesus to come just as we have to wait each year for Christmas.Jesus “Is born”We don’t have to wait thousands of years, but we know it was a long time between the prophecy in Isaiah and the birth of Jesus.Advent is a way for Christians to remember that Jesus was not simply “tacked” on to God’s plans.God had Jesus in mind from before he created time itself.“Is born” affirms Jesus’ humanity.But, there is more.Jesus “is given”Jesus is “given” to us.Born of a women, born human, of divine origin, given by God to us.A long time between Isaiah and the food trough, the manger, in Bethlehem.Isaiah made clear, He was unlike any other child.Human, yes, and divine.Consider how Paul explains this fact:who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Well before Jesus “emptied himself” at the Incarnation, the prophet Isaiah said that he would do just that; he’d become like us, human in form.Jesus is “His name”Isaiah gives us a little more about the birth of Jesus:Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.Isaiah says, born from a virgin.Luke elaborates on this more:Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.Luke tells us more in his retelling of the immaculate conception:In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.Given by God, promised through the prophet, made clear to Mary, all for us, Jesus, “God with us” Immanuel.This morning we view this Prophecy candle and recall Isaiah told us that Jesus would be born, born special, born unlike any other baby, unique, different, and given by God.God came to be with humankind to save the world.Yes we celebrate Christmas.We light lights, have decorations, and some retell the story with Advent rings.The one thing that prompts all this celebration is the birth of one baby thousands of years ago.So special was that baby, born to die, to save humankind from sin, that we have reason to celebrate this time of year.Merry Christmas.Happy Holiday (comes from “Holy Day”)Seasons Greetings (tis the season)Special lights, special practices, special sayings, all because of God’s special gift to us, Jesus given by God and the reason we celebrate Christmas.What does God say?Jesus’ birth was not ordinary.Jesus was born to a virgin just as Isaiah foretold and Dr. Luke later confirmed.It’s okay to marvel at these facts as we remember why Jesus was born.He was born to die, to bring salvation to the earth.As the spirit of Christmas stirs us let your glad tidings be heard everywhere you go.Unto us Jesus is given!
- Just As I Am
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