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?
This week we’re exploring the importance of meeting regularly with other Christians, as part of a church community, like Redeemer Church, the one we are forming through Redeem the Commute.
The Bible passage we’re exploring this week suggests two purposes to gathering: Encouragement and Worship. We’ll focus on worship next week, and for this week we’ll focus on the encouragement part.
Encouragement to what? Hebrews says community can encourage us to love and good works. First, what would it mean to be encouraged to love in a community? Think of the relationships that form through fun and fellowship. Our Movie Night is one example – we had a great time, and some online members met one another, and a neighbourhood. Our Wings & Trivia was the same, and our Christmas Event will be, too.
Honestly, are churches are meant to get along. I know someone who went to a church and attended a few worship services, and decided to join. But first, they wanted to attend a business meeting of a church – and he walked away saying, “these people don’t believe what they say.” They were not charitable, loving, kind or generous at all, even though they claimed to believe in a God who is.
The Church is meant to be a preview of the kingdom of God. It’s described in the Bible as a party – like we are already in heaven.
The Church is meant to love one another as themselves…even though the rest of the world may not love them the same way.
The Church is meant to care for one another with generosity of Christ, who died for his friends.
We could go on, but it all starts with spending time together, knowing each other’s needs, hopes, dreams, routine and more. Some people like to call this, “doing life together” even though it’s a bit clichéd.
Question: Go out for lunch, drinks or coffee with someone. When can you get together with your discussion group simply for fun? Or if you don’t have one yet, think of who you could share our challenges and discussion with, and start by simply inviting them to something fun.
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.