This passage shows us the reality of Christmas. Sometimes we think that this time of year is about being joyful and peaceful and ignoring the difficult aspects of our lives. Yet the reality of Christmas is not about ignoring our difficulties, but having joy, peace, and hope in the midst of them. That's what having a "Merry Christmas" is truly about, and that's what we're going to celebrate this Sunday.
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Wouldn't you expect the "King of the Jews" to be worshiped by...the Jews? In another unexpected twist to the Christmas story, we see pagan astrologers as the first worshipers of the Jewish Messiah, while the Jewish leaders respond with indifference. What might this say about who Jesus is really coming for -- and also how we should respond to King Jesus? During Advent, as we reflect on Christ's first coming and look forward to his second coming, how are you responding to the King?
Joseph had a very unexpected Christmas. Usually, we focus on Mary's faith and courage during Advent -- and rightfully so -- but Matthew zooms in on Jesus' (legal) father. It is through Joseph's eyes that we see that the salvation that will come to the world will not come cheap. Following in the steps of Jesus is no easy thing, but that's what we're all called to as Christians today.
At Bethlehem God became human. It’s an enormous descent when God the Son leaves the Godhead (Trinity) and is birthed as a baby in Bethlehem. A huge descent! But once his mission is accomplished, he is exalted to the highest place, returning to the Godhead as Jesus Christ our Lord and God. You are invited to come and experience this enormous plunge Jesus endured for us from highest high to the lowest low and back again so that we might live in a relationship with God forever.
In this series we are asking what you are getting for Christmas that would bring joy to your life. If you approach Christmas with the hope of the “joy” of the season without putting your roots down into the core of Christmas, then your “joy” is merely circumstantial. So what could you receive for Christmas that would instill, plant, cause to thrive within you …pure joy?
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people..." Luke 2:11
Christmas is a joyful time for giving and receiving gifts. Yet the joy we are referring to here is based on the foundation on which we live our lives. It is a joy that is not rooted in simply receiving gifts or experiencing positive circumstances. This joy is based on our faith in Jesus Christ. A gift that provides this kind of joy is the gift of God's forgiveness. Today, we'll examine our need for forgiveness, the cost of forgiveness, and God's offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
This week is about the significance of Christ's presence with us. Yes, hopefully you will receive presents this holiday season, but Christmas is truly about God's presence. But what's the big deal about God's presence? Isn't God omnipresent, all around us? Why was the birth of Jesus, Immanuel, "God with Us," so significant and what does it matter to us today? This is what we'll be exploring together today.