Sunday Morning Service 17th December 17 at St Mary’s Faith working through love.
Children’s short talk
The Christmas Cracker
Several children and one adult helped to pull the cracker. Inside the cracker were three items: the joke, the gift and the crown.
The joke or puzzle: Who was the best comedian in the Bible? The answer: Samson he brought the house down.
Other Christmas cracker jokes were distributed among the congregation and read out.
The gift – baby Jesus.
During the run up to Christmas we look for the perfect gift for a friend or family member. We want it to reflect how much we think about them and that it suits their need and will last, not put away in a drawer and forgotten about.
God has given to the world, the perfect gift of Jesus, he comes with God’s promise, those who believe that he is God’s Son will be welcomed into the family of God.
Through faith working through love, God has given us Jesus out of His love for us and He has met our need in our receiving God’s love, love that will last forever.
The crown represents a royal ‘diadema’ crown, a crown for a king. The wise men who came to Jerusalem to Herod’s palace, asked, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? Jesus was born a king, he wasn’t made a king by the people. Matthew 2: 2.
Sermon Luke 1: 26-38
Two weeks ago I stayed for a weekend at Holly Bush Farm, the place in Yorkshire where there was a revival in the 1980’s and 90’s Every Friday night they have visiting speakers and I heard Tom Billingham’s testimony:
“When he was at school he was bullied because of his size, at 16 years he attempted to take his own life. When he started work it helped, but he had continuing mental health problems. A few years later while he was working at a food bank, he shared his problems with a Christian lady, who said to him, “You need Jesus,” and he replied flippantly, “You need medication.”
However, he agreed to go to church, but it took him three months to actually go. He said that it was not what he expected, and left that morning thinking’ I want what they have’. A few days later in the afternoon at 3pm he was about to cross the road, when he heard a voice at the side of him say, “Don’t cross the road,” a few seconds later a crash happened in front of him. He broke down in tears, he saw the man who had spoken to him, he believed he was an angel, the incident changed his life, he has found his Saviour.”
I wondered if Archangel Gabriel’s appearance was like Tom’s angel, and looked like an ordinary man. I thought this because his greeting troubled Mary, his words puzzled her, and his message regarding having a baby boy must have come as a shock.
Mary’s overriding thoughts were not on his lineage and God’s plan for the child. Without hesitation she asked who the father would be? Gabriel revealed to her that he would be God’s Son.
I think Mary questioning Gabriel, showed why God chose her, she was discerning, she had integrity towards Joseph, but her faith in God was more important to her, so Mary’s priority was to do God’s will verse 38 ”Let it be to me according to your word.”
Joseph probably thought at first that Mary was crackers to believe that God would Father a child, and like the cracker they found themselves pulling in opposite directions until one side gave way. God spoke to Joseph in a dream telling him to have faith and believe that the child was God’s Son and to call him Jesus.
In the cracker we had a puzzling word.
Called by God to fulfil His purposes – mission in our community
God has called us to do something for him, we look for confirmation Mary checked out Gabriel’s word, she went with haste to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and found that it was true, Elizabeth in her old age was six months pregnant. Mary stayed with them for 3 months and then returned home
Paul writes, “That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. ! Corinthians 2: 5.
Confirmation from God either through a word of scripture or through sharing and praying with other Christians
God’s will be done in our lives by stepping out in faith.
“A work of faith and a labour of love” 1 Thessalonians 1: 3
Faith is like when one day we will be asked to get into a car driven by a computer. How hard that will be to put our trust in a computer when the roads are so busy.
Many Christians would describe their relationship with Jesus like he is in the driving seat of their life. It’s by stepping out in faith we become dependant upon God, for Him to open up opportunities and to answer prayers.
At the job Club we are dependant on God to send people to us. This year we’ve had a gentle flow of people looking for help with CV’s etc
God has opened up opportunities for referrals from Rossendale CAP Debt Centre
Answered prayer has meant a change in my link person at Job Centre Plus, so now I’ve been asked to go into the centre, and talk to Job-seekers about the Tuesday morning Job Club.
The gift of Jesus comes with God’s promise, those who believe that he is God’s Son will be welcomed into the family of God.
2 Corinthians 6: 18 “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters says the Lord God Almighty.”
It’s by faith we receive Jesus into our heart. “Faith working through love.” Galatians 5: 6
John’s Baptism was in preparation for the establishing of the throne of King David by the Messiah.
Jesus’ Baptism is about receiving Jesus into our heart by faith through repentance.
God loves the sinner, but hates the sin in our lives and so by acknowledging that we need to get right with God. God graciously forgives us our sins against Him. And then pours out His Spirit of love into our hearts.
Paul wrote that love is the Spirit that binds believers together and also that we continue to grow in faith and love.
Paul wrote in his witness to Timothy, “And the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1: 4
The crown that Jesus would have worn on earth was the ‘Diadema’ crown a royal crown that of a King. On the cross the Romans nailed on a board, ‘The King of the Jews’ in their mockery they had wrote exactly the truth. Archangel Gabriel’s word to Mary. “The Lord would give him the throne of his father David.” The crown is the icing on the cake, for us it’s the victors’ crown, the ‘Stephanos’ crown.
“A crown of love and compassion.” Psalm 103: 4
Through faith in God’s word and acting upon it, the church can change our society, by people in the world wanting what we have in Jesus, we can win the fight over the devil and build a stronger church that will be heard in our land. Amen.