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“Cause To Rejoice” “Cause To Rejoice”

December 21, 2014

Fourth Sunday In Advent:  Rejoice!

Luke 1:26-56

“Cause To Rejoice”

Intro:  This season of Advent we have learned:

  • That to live in Expectation of Christ’s return means we focus our attention on the hopes of what will be when Christ comes to reign.  It involves making preparations and plans.  It involves behaving in particular ways so that we finds ourselves prepared for what will be. 
  • We are called to live in a state of Preparation: Being prepared for what God has in store requires that we are faithful in the “grunt work” of our spiritual lives.  God speaks to us while we worship, pray and read His Word and serve others.  How is your preparation going? And are you ready for anything?
  • We are  called to live out our Repentance: That was the simple message of John the Baptist for those who were seeking the Messiah. It is also the message for our hearts – if they are open to receive it.  It is an invitation to be transformed and prepared for the coming of Christ.  We repent like we mean it!  How has that gone for you this week?

 

Today we come to the fourth lesson of Advent, which has been demonstrated throughout the service so far:  Rejoice!  The Scripture reading from Luke had three sections in it.  Each gives us cause to rejoice as we prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming.

 

The foretelling (Luke 1:26-38)

The prophets had been silent.  The armies of the Greeks and Persians had conquered the people of God.  Times had not been good for the people of God.  The people waited for their redemption from their captors. They waited in expectation, preparation, and repentance for hundreds of years for God to send the promised Messiah. And then . . .

 

First the angel came to Zechariah and told him he would have a son and there was excitement and rejoicing because God was speaking to His people!  And then the angel visited Mary.  God was again speaking to and through his people!  This was cause for rejoicing! 

 

The people of God felt that God had been silent for hundreds of years. But in that silence, God had been working to prepare a place and time for His Son to be born into the world.  Think about this: If you were the Creator of the Universe and you had the perfect plan to redeem the world you created from the course of self-destruction it had chosen, wouldn’t you want the timing to be right for the most impact? 

 

God chose the time of His incarnation.  God chose carefully the person who would bear him.  God chose the details of the politics of the time.  And when the time was right, he came.  This tells us that even though it seems God is silent, God is not still.  God is working in the world and in our lives to prepare us for Christ to come again.  He is working in each of us to create a place for Christ to be born anew.  “O come to us, abide with us!  Our Lord, Emmanuel!” 

And the promise of God being at work, even though He seems to be silent, is cause to rejoice.

 

The visit to Elizabeth (39-45)

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed blessing on the mother of the Messiah.  Take note:  How did Elizabeth recognize the Messiah?  She, and John whom she was carrying were filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

Do you ever wonder if you can recognize God?  Do you wonder if you’ve ever missed Him?  Christian, you have the Holy Spirit residing in you!  The Holy Spirit recognizes God when God comes and will alert your being!  Go with it!  If you have to shout out or lift your hands in the air or get a silly grin on your face, when you recognize God, rejoice!!  And then tell your story because it spreads the joy and the story and the awe of God at work!  Rejoice! Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to Thee, O Israel! O Barney, O _____________!

 

Mary’s Song (46-56)

There are two sections of Mary’s song.  The focus of the first is on how good God has been to Mary in choosing someone of her humble state to bear the Son of God.  And the focus of the second is on the whole people of God who will benefit from God’s redeeming grace.

 

Do you know who you are?  You are a person whom God can indwell and use.  Any of us!  If our hearts are open, and we are seeking God, God will use us for his purposes.  Do you have any idea how often God speaks to me through you?  When you share your stories of how God is active in your life, it changes mine.  When you share the attitudes you have towards other people that are hard, I am humbled and my attitude changes.  Your giving spirit encourages me to be generous.  Who are you?  As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that you might walk in them. (Eph 2:10)  Rejoice! We all have a role to play in the kingdom of God! How great our joy!

 

Concl:  This is Christmas week.  People are looking for hope and joy and peace.  You carry the Christ with you.  You know hope, joy, and peace.  How might God desire to use you to bear the Christ child to others?  Will you be open to it as Mary was?  Will you rejoice and give others a cause to rejoice with you?