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?
So why do Christians gather to worship week in and week out? The answer is that there are at least three very good reasons: to acknowledge God’s presence and worth, to remember that we are not alone but part of a community that is growing and learning, and to offer a visible witness to ourselves and others. But when we gather to worship for these reasons, what do we do? We celebrate!
The keynote of worship is celebration. At times in its long and winding history the church has lost its sight of this. But that is what Sunday mornings are all about—celebrating who we know God is (wow—he is our Father) --celebrating what Jesus has done for us (wow—set us free from the consequences of our sin)---celebrating that can live in relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit (wow---we are not alone).
God is a God who throws parties. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Jesus told adults to keep their eyes on the children if they wanted to know what God is like. Left on their own, adults develop strange ideas of what worship should be. …in the purely adult world, God frequently comes across as a cranky old grandfather..but children seem to know instinctively that God likes celebration.
Christians are people who are called to live in community, and we are a community of learners. We need to realize how impossible it is to be a Christian on our own, not to mention half the fun.
As Redeemer Church comes together, we’ll have three approaches to worship, in order:
Personal: We encourage you to engage in prayer, particularly on Fridays. We also hope you’ll have personal moments of worship to thank God for what happens in your life day to day.
Small Groups: As you share our challenges with friends, we hope your Friday prayers will no longer be something quiet and personal but something you share with the team. Share the moments when God was at work in your life, and pray about them!
Celebration Events: Up to now, our celebration events have been just about fun, but in a few months we’ll start to host events with worship component. We want to hear from you what will help you worship God as part of a larger community.
Challenge: Complete our online survey about worship here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8TS7K93
Reminder: Earlier in this series, 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.