Sermon Text: Advent 4A, Christmas is almost here.

December 19, 2020 Church Blog, Sermons, Sunday Message0
Sermon Text: Advent 4A, Christmas is almost here.

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Advent 4A – Christmas is almost here!

  1. This past summer, in July we had a reading from Zech, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech 9:9)
    1. As I mentioned at that time, this was Good News for a people wearied after the long Babylonian captivity
      1. The people needed some good news – not only after the long exile but to provide hope after the return when nothing was like it used to be – the rebuilt temple was a shadow of its former self, the king was gone, the glory was gone, the hope was gone.
      1. Zechariah’s words were words of good news for a weary people
      1. That reading traditionally comes at Easter and Advent not in the middle of summer.
      1. But just as the Israelites needed to be picked up after their exile so did we as we were dealing with Covid.
    1. This past July Christmas Joy seemed a long way off, but we rejoiced in Zechariah’s message because Christmas was coming!
      1. Well now here we are on the verge of Christmas and not a lot has changed.
      1. Nothing has gone back to “normal” if anything it’s gotten stranger.
      1. The Summer of Discontent has been followed by a fall and winter surge in the virus and an extremely tumultuous election cycle.
      1. But now with the release of two vaccines it appears hope is coming
  2. In our readings for this last Sunday of Advent that’s what we hear too – hope is coming, true hope, Christmas is almost here!
    1. Today we read of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary, the young, unwed virgin, Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you. (Lu 1:28)
      1. That’s something you don’t get everyday a personal greeting from an angel announcing that you are favored of the Lord!
      1. You would think that something good was about to occur.
      1. But the angel announces, And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. (Luk 1:31)
      1. This is good news? Remember Mary was probably a teenager, unmarried living in a society that puts unmarried, pregnant women to death.
    1. But this is the announcement of the long-awaited Messiah, the One who will save God’s people
      1. The One promised in the Garden, the seed of the woman who would crush Satan’s head
      1. The Good News, that we’ll hear angels sing about in the skies over Bethlehem in a few days, is in the boy’s name, Jesus!
      1. Jesus in Hebrew is Jeshua which means “Yahweh saves” – God Himself will come to save His people!
      1. Christmas is almost here and the true gift that it brings is the knowledge that Yahweh saves.
  3. Mary at her young age knew this, even though she was going to face public scorn and derision and even danger for being pregnant and unwed.
    1. Listen to her response, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)
      1. That is the response of faith, that come what may, and it may be bad, “let it be done to me according to your word.”
      1. Because the promise of her Son’s Name was God’s promise for her too -Yahweh saves
    1. God had already provided for this young woman in the man to whom she was engaged, Joseph.
      1. You see this wasn’t just a scandal for her, it was a scandal for him.
      1. If he was the father, it was shameful that they had come together before marriage.
      1. Or, in this case, because he wasn’t it’s even more scandalous that she was with another while betrothed!
      1. So, the Gospel of Matthew records that this remarkably godly, caring man, “being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Mat 1:19)
    1. Think about that…the woman to whom he was engaged was found to be pregnant not by him and he didn’t want to put her to shame knowing this might have been a death sentence if he did
      1. But Matthew tells us, But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Mat 1:20-21)
      1. Note again the Name – Joseph is also told His Name shall be Jesus, Jeshua – Yahweh saves!
      1. That meant that God would save Joseph even though there were hard days ahead for his new family.
    1. We find ourselves in the waning days of 2020 facing tough days ahead
      1. It has been a bad year, there’s not a way to sugar coat it
      1. Yes, we’ve seen amazing developments in vaccine development, alternative methods of learning and doing business – humanity’s ingenuity in the face of challenges was on full display
      1. But we are still left with the ongoing challenge of the pandemic and all of the social discord in the wake of demonstrations and the election.
  4. But…but no matter what Christmas is almost here!
    1. And the Good News that was given to an unmarried, pregnant teenager whose life was in peril in her society
      1. is the same Good News that was given to her fiancée as he considered separating quietly for her sake
      1. is the same Good News that sustains us today as we live in these precarious times, the promise given in the Name of the Son of Mary
      1. Jesus, Jeshua – Yahweh saves, that guarantee hasn’t changed throughout the history of the world!
    1. When our first parents sinned, they consigned us to a broken world where we age, get sick, and ultimately die.
      1. We were broken and couldn’t fix ourselves; we were condemned and couldn’t save ourselves.
      1. So, God became our champion in Jesus – Jeshua – Yahweh saves!
    1. His incarnation (birth) was the beginning of our salvation, Yahweh had finally come to save His people
      1. Paul tells us in Col, “For in him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:19-20)
      1. The salvation He gives to us cost Him His life – the great exchange, His death for our life!
      1. One early church father said, “The cross of Christ is the key of paradise.”
    1. That Good News has sustained the Church and her people through all the ravages of history: plagues, wars, famines and whatever else we face in this broken world
      1. Our Lord told His disciples the night before His crucifixion, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Joh 16:33)
      1. He has overcome the brokenness of the world through His broken body on the cross so that Paul could say in Rom 8: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:35-39)
      1. Lift up your heads and rejoice, because Christmas is almost here, and the real gift is the promise of the Name: Jesus – Jeshua – Yahweh saves!
Pinnacle Lutheran Church Advent Christmas