4th Sunday in Advent
(on Christmas Day we will have the entire Christmas Story)
Let us focus on this final Advent Sunday on ~
The Reason for the Season
(exactly what happened, why, when, and how)
Isaiah 7:10-14 (NIV) (WHY? Prophecy)
10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”
13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Romans 1:1-7 (NIV) (What? Our Savior)
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life[a] was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from[c] faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 1:18-24 (NIV) (How and When? as God planned)
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d] (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Advent, and here we begin our focus on prayer and peace.
We spoke of hope, then love, and last week joy, now peace and prayer. How better to conclude our Advent season – with peace and prayer.
God sent His son to earth to be an example of perfect peace and love. He did so in the most common and ordinary way ~
This child whose birth we celebrate is:
Descended “from David according to the flesh” (verse 3). Jesus is THE story but we must always remember who else was part of the story , necessary people needed to fulfill the prophecy. So this story also includes Mary and Joseph, shepherds, and how they and we as humans live in peace through our constant prayer with our faith in Him. Yes, the shepherd also because without their faith, they would not have followed the star. And such is true also of the Magii.
Was announced to be His beloved Son, especially later when He raised Him. Jesus speaks The Word; He is the Word – and the Word became flesh. (John 1). This is the Word we pray to and repeat prayers taught us. And it is through these prayers that we receive the peace that passes all understanding.
He whom we receive grace (verse 5). “G-RA-C-E stands for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). We receive grace and blessings through this Savior. What a gift and how we love to thank Him in our prayers and praise.
It is through this birth that we accept our invitation to be a servant – a servant of His. And it is through this that we receive our eternal life with Him.
Do we celebrate with prayer, praise, and a focus on peace on earth goodwill toward men? OR……………………….
“A teacher wants to know how each of her students celebrates Christmas. She calls on young Patrick Murphy, “Tell me Patrick, what do you do at Christmas time?” Patrick answers, “Me and my twelve brothers and sisters go to midnight Mass and we sing hymns, then we come home, and we put mince pies by the back door and hang up our stockings. Then we go to bed and wait for Father Christmas to come with toys.” The teacher asks another student, “And you, Jimmy Brown, what do you do at Christmas?” Jimmy replies, “Me and my sister also go to Church with Mom and Dad and we sing carols, and after we get home we put cookies and milk by the chimney and we hang up our stockings. We hardly sleep waiting for Santa Claus to bring our toys.”
“Realizing there was a Jewish boy in the class and not wanting to leave him out of the discussion, the teacher asks Isaac Cohen the same question, “Isaac, what do you do at Christmas?” Isaac replies, “Well, we go for a ride and we sing a Christmas carol.” Surprised, the teacher asks him, “Tell us what you sing.” Isaac goes on, “Well, it’s the same thing every year. Dad comes home from the office. We all get into the Rolls Royce, and we drive to his toy factory. When we get inside we look at all the empty shelves and we sing, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus.’ Then we all go to the Bahamas.”
Think about this:
“A visitor from Mars arriving on planet earth at Christmas time would have a hard time figuring out what it is we are celebrating. With all the snowmen and icicles on our lawns and decorations, the Martian might think it is just a winter festival. With Santa Claus and his elves and reindeer everywhere, the Martian might think that Christmas is a feast in honour of a fat bearded man dressed in red. And with all the shopping, eating, drinking and exchange of presents, the Martian might think we are simply having an end-of-year holiday.”
People celebrate Christmas today in various ways and for various reasons. On this fourth and last Sunday in Advent and just a few days before Christmas, we read this scripture above from Paul’s letter to the Romans so we can also think about the question:
What is the reason for the season?
Would the Martian ever see people kneeling in prayer together peacefully? What a joy that would be. To come upon a scene like that – all over the world – as people celebrated that birth that brought peace to the world.
Paul’s letter today tells a bit about himself, the Romans and then focuses on the Good News – what God has done by sendnig His Son, Jesus Christ. The birth of His Son – His only begotten Son is the reason for the season. This is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. In today’s vernacular we say, Happy Birth-day, Jesus. And the entire world says it; and Paul in this reading from Romans helps us to express the answer.
As we pray for the blessing of the new-born Child at Christmas, let us also ask Him to show us how we can serve God with gladness and joy all the days of our lives. And let us put our faith and trust in God as we approach Christ, His Son, the Light of the world and the Prince of Peace.
With the Hope, the Joy, the Love, and the Prayers for Peace….
What more could we ask for as a perfect Christmas gift.
Merry Christ’s Time (Christmas)