Advent Sermon Series | The Wonder of Welcome
Our Advent Sermon Series this year is The Wonder of Welcome: Unlikely Witnesses to the Birth of the King.
The Wonder of God Made Flesh: Unbelievable Love
In the Advent and birth records put forth in the synoptic gospels, our object of wonder is the majesty and mystery of God breaking 400 years of silence in order to fulfill his redemptive promises foretold by the prophets to Israel as he reveals Messiah. The true marvel of this wonder is that the promised messiah, the redeemer-rescuer, is none other than God-in-flesh, the Son. Though this birth was foretold, the ends to which God himself was willing to go in order to rescue his people whom he loves comes into full clarity as those who witness the birth of the Christ-child realize that this is none other than God’s own Son.
The Wonder of Welcome: Unlikely Witnesses
When all is said and done, we also marvel at the types of people that are specifically welcomed to bear witness to the inbreaking of God into the world. The humility of the messengers—indeed, both in their status in society and in their flaws as sinful human beings, gives us hope, because it is exactly these types of people that would have never had any seat at any royal table that are here, in God’s economy, given front row admission to the birth of the king.
Who are these unlikely witnesses to the birth of the King?
Zechariah and Elizabeth, the "well along in years" couple who are waiting, wounded, and weary. They have tarried long waiting on the promises of God to be fulfilled and now, at long last and after (seemingly) long delay have seen God begin to move in ways that are unmistakably hopeful. Those advanced in years, both then and now, are never given significant roles. In the birth of the Christ, the aged, waiting, wounded, and weary are given dignity and significance.
Joseph, the father of Jesus. His story is a story of a child he did not conceive and an instruction he is not sure he can follow. In a world filled with stories that shout that faith always looks strong, courageous, mighty, and steadfast, what room does that leave for the rest of us, who sometimes are just hanging on by the slightest of threads, begging to believe the promises that were made in hopes that they are true? Joseph is welcomed and given dignity and significance.
The Shepherds, familiar players, and nevertheless still worthy of attention. Shepherds were not the cream of the crop of society. They were on the outskirts and were largely loners. And yet the shepherds the first, outside of immediate family, invited to hear the first announcement of the birth of the Christ. The unlikely and unlovable of Jesus’ ministry are welcomed even at his birth. Not to the upper crust, to the educated or elite, but to the humble shepherd did the grand firework of angelic celebration first appear. This unlikely witness to the coronation of the infant king welcomed the marginalized and outcast, and gave them dignity and significance.
Simeon, a man righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. As he encounters the Christ, “we see the universal scope of the gospel. Now in Jesus, God’s plan from the beginning of creation is being accomplished—the spreading of his grace to all the earth, to Jew and Gentile.” (Gospel Transformation Bible, pp. 1359, note on 2:29-35). The hope of Israel is not monolithic ethnic completion, but through the grafting in of the nations, there is now a kingdom that welcomes every nation, people, tribe, and tongue. As the Spirit descended on Simeon, he saw this, and rejoiced with exceeding gladness, because the neighbor, the nations, and the next generation would get to see this great gift, experience this great welcome, and have significance, not in their own right, but because they bear witness and ascribe glory to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus, the Christ.
As Jen and I watch and wait for our little one to arrive in early December, the elders of Metrocrest have graciously asked our Preaching Team to give me time to enjoy the wonder of welcoming our baby girl into the world. I'll be preaching on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, but until then enjoy hearing God's Word from my brothers.
Sermon Schedule and Texts
November 27th | Jimmy Davis
Luke 1:5-22, Zechariah and Elizabeth - The Waiting, Wounded, and Weary
December 4th | Steve Williamson
Matthew 1:18-25, Joseph - The Anxious and Uncertain
December 11th | Bill Camp
Luke 2:8-21, The Shepherds - The Marginalized and Outcast
December 18th | Justin Weeks
Luke 2:22-35, Simeon - The Nations and those Far Off
Waiting and watching with you,
David Ridenhour, Senior Pastor
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