We’re seeing the impact that Jesus’ birth has had beyond those who lived 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Here’s a story about one of the first people to meet Jesus, when he was about 40 days old, and how he saw Jesus would change the world:
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:22-35 ESV)
This man, Simeon, was told he would not die until he had seen the Messiah – God’s anointed one – the true king of Israel. Now, here he was, a baby in Simeon’s arms. In this song or poem, he essentially says he can finally die happy.
But this isn’t just about Simeon. It’s not even just about his people, the Jews, even though t happens at a very Jewish occasion – the temple, with all its purification laws, etc. and a Jewish blessing.
You can see it’s much larger when Simeon says God is doing something about salvation for “all peoples” and specifically a light of revelation for the Gentiles (non-Jews) as well as Israel.
The child Simeon blesses will have an impact globally, eternally. Sometimes that will be wonderful, but other times he’s described as being divisive. Whether we like that or not, we can see Jesus has indeed been divisive – it’s hard to sit on the fence about Jesus – families, friends and other people groups have long been divided by their beliefs about him.
Question: How does the birth of Jesus divide people today? What thoughts might he reveal?
We are beginning a new series on “Becoming Like Family” as our online community begin to share the daily challenges with friends, and we begin to gather our larger community together.
Why would we bother? One survey found that 59% of 18-29 year old Americans with a Christian background dropped out of church. Four-in-ten American young adults with a Christian background (43%) believe going to church and having Christian friends is optional.
It’s clear that not everyone feels it’s essential, and with our use of technology to form a new church, you might think we mean to simply form an “online” church where no one ever meets in person. But we believe it’s essential. We believe church is essential, but to be clear, we are talking about a community of people.
We’re not saying going to a building is essential
We’re not saying attending a particular kind of worship service with particular kinds of music is essential
Those might be good things. But they are things that churches do, not what makes them a church in the first place.
We want to ensure our church community will have five main characteristics. The first was learning common things about discipleship, and we explored that last week. The second, this week’s focus, is to be spending time in community together.
Some churches do this at bake sales, ham suppers, and such. For us, it will happen in groups that meet regularly to discuss how they’re growing as followers of Jesus. We’ll grow and learn together. Yes, we’ll be learning focused, but we’re also supposed to be a functioning community, a fellowship, in both small groups, and as a large group.
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it takes a church to raise a follower of Jesus.
Question: Why do you think people might avoid joining a church today? Have you been part of a church before? Why or why not?
Reminder: The Following Jesus course in Whitby starts tomorrow – visit https://www.redeemthecommute.com/events/following-jesus-course-whitby-2013-11-05/
Reminder: Last week we saw the importance of reading the Bible together in sync, so our new daily bible readings start today in our mobile app and web site.
This series looks at becoming “like family” with others learning to follow Jesus. We're exploring how the church is not a building, institution or event, but a community of people. It's important that explore what church means as we prepare to launch a new church in Ajax in 2014.