December 22, 2015
Over the next 10 days people all around our region and country will be slowing down to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. This is one of my favorite times of the year as most of us get the green light from our fast paced culture to truly rest and put relationships first. And so, as we pause let’s highlight and recap our last three sermons in our Advent series “God With Us” and from there I’ll give us a few action steps as we head into the Christmas Season and the New Year.Majestic Mystery: God With UsIn week one of our Advent series we learned that the God of the Universe took on flesh and came to live among us. The fancy theological word for this is the Incarnation. It means to be embodied in flesh, and this is actually what God did in order to be with us and rescue us from our sin and brokenness. We looked at John chapter one where the Scripture reads, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus, Immanuel (God With Us), became fully human without compromising his divinity in order to be near to us. This is truly a majestic mystery! It is crazy, scandalous even, yet true and the foundation for everything we believe.
During the second week of our series we took a practical turn and looked at a story of Jesus living out his incarnation in Luke chapter five with a guy named Levi. We answered the question, “Who did God come to be with?” The answer was surprising for some and relieving for others. We saw that Jesus ate, drank and hung out with some of the shadiest of people. In fact, we learned that God didn’t come for those who were self-proclaimed righteous folk; people who seemingly (on the outside at least) had it all together. Instead, we saw that he came for those who didn’t have it all together; for those who recognize and admit their need for a rescuer. In this we were reminded that Jesus came to invite us to his table. And it didn’t end there, we saw that we have been sent to eat and drink with the Levi’s in our neighborhoods and cities.
In the final sermon of the Advent series we looked once again at John chapter one. We narrowed in on the idea of God’s presence and intimacy. We learned how Jesus “tabernacled” or dwelt among us. We took a look back at the tabernacle in the Old Testament and walked through how Jesus was the true tabernacle (God’s dwelling place), living among us in the most intimate of ways, face to face, giving us access to God as sons and daughters. Then we saw that Jesus, after living, dying, rising from the dead and ascending back to the Father, sent us God the Spirit to dwell in us who believe. In other words we can live within the presence of God everyday because he came to dwell with us and in us! We are now the dwelling place of God!Christmas then is a reminder of our God With Us. Our God, the Father who sent his Son to become one of us, and live among us: a Majestic Mystery! Our God, the Son who came to live with and die for those who don’t have it all together: our Model for Mission. Our God, the Spirit sent to dwell in us, the very presence of God within those who believe: a Powerful Presence.
Isn’t that amazing!? Let that sink in for a moment. Rest in it.
Now what would it look like to apply these truths to our everyday lives this season and in the coming year? As you consider that question, let me help spark some ideas:1) We learned some rich theology this series. What would it look like for you dive deeper into learning the truth and mysteries of God this season and this coming year? As things slow down for you these next couple weeks, what would it look like to read more Scripture? How can you remind yourself often of the gospel? Looking forward maybe you can jump into a new reading plan for 2016 with your family or a DNA? Alongside that, keep an eye out for some new classes Reach will be offering in 2016 to aid you as you continue growing in your knowledge of God!2) We saw in Luke 5:27-31 who Jesus came for. Who could you invite to your table this Christmas? Or who could you take out for a drink or dinner in the next couple weeks in order to hear their story and share yours? Is there a Christmas party you’ve been invited to go to at work? What does it look like for you to join an existing Group in 2016 so that you are often eating and drinking with others? Or what would it look like for you to start a new Group so that others who desire community and purpose can have a place to belong?3) Yes let’s be passionate about the precepts and promises of God, but let’s also be passionate about the presence of God. What would it look like for you to foster more of an awareness of God’s presence this season and this coming year? Are there disciplines you need to pick up or dust off in order to remind yourself of God’s presence? Is there a Scripture you can memorize that will help you remember that God dwells in you? Do you need recommended resources to help you understand this concept in a deeper way? Is there a place where you feel the presence of God more clearly? Does corporate worship help spark the reality of God’s presence?Enjoy Christmas this year by remembering that our God came to be with us and by being with others!