I’m back in the office, and this post is late. But here are my notes (in the raw) from “Anticipating Advent” from the December 23, 2012 KirkYouth gathering:
[ title slide ] Intro
QUESTION: Have you ever seen a fight? What was it like?
If you think about it, there are a lot of things that make us stop and stare. We are hardwired to do this.
– [ click ] Wrecks
– [ click ] People with special needs
– [ click ] Demolition of a building
– [ click ] Fights
Most of the time we’ll drop what we’re doing to watch a fight. And that’s exactly what happened when Jesus was born. Everything in Heaven and earth stopped to look because [ click ] the battle cry of the Gospel began with the cry of a baby.
Today’s main passage:
[ click ] Matthew 1:18-21 (NIV) 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.”
2:13-16 13 When they [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[g]
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Description: What Else In This Story Was A “Stop & Stare” Moment?
[ click ] Stop and stare…at how Joseph would react
1:19 … Joseph her husband was faithful to the law…
Illustration: betrothal – considered adultery – death by stoning
[ click ] Stop and stare…at an unwed pregnant teenager
1:19 … expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
Illustration: every time she walked by – every time she entered a building
[ click ] Stop and stare…at the carnage of Herod’s fury
2:16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Illustration: A “newborn king” was a threat to the throne – Bethlehem was ~300 people (6 or 7 boys + surrounding areas) – when children die we stop and stare and shake our heads (think Newtown, CT)
Application: Most of the time when we stop and stare it’s at carnage, or brokenness. We are hardwired to do this because we recognize that’s not how it should be.
We stop and stare because we are anticipating advent. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” We stare at brokenness and shake our heads because deep down we are anticipating the coming of One who can fix it.
The battle cry of the Gospel began with the cry of a baby. And when Jesus comes back to put an end to sin, death, and evil, we will no longer stare at brokenness. We’ll stare at glory. Restoration. Shalom.
[ click ] Description: Christmas Isn’t About You
We hear it all the time. Christmas is about giving, not getting. It’s about family time or being with the ones you love. The message is supposed to point away from you, but does it?
Stop staring at yourself
Jesus is here. And that means everything has changed. We get so wrapped up in ourselves, our identities, our labels, our efforts, even our sins, that we forget our gospel identity. We start to believe ______. We need to remember our…
“All the complexity and beauty in the universe is not meant to terminate on itself but to trace its origins to the Creator” (Explicit Gospel).
According to Scripture, the crowning achievement of creation is you and me (created “very good”). But when we stare at ourselves, we rob God of the glory that is rightly his.
“If you are looking at your sins and shortcomings and constantly feeling condemned – not convicted, condemned – you need to use the Word of God to rebuke the Devil’s accusations. You need to use the Word of God to remind yourself over and over again that the gospel is true” (Explicit Gospel).
“So we step, step, step, and fall, and heaven applauds. At what? At the obedience of taking those three steps. The Father in heaven is crying, ‘He’s walking!’ ‘She’s doing it!’ And maybe the Accuser’s saying, ‘No, he only took a couple of steps. That’s nothing’ … Moralists see the fall and believe that the Father is ashamed and thinks they’re foolish. So, more often than not, they stop trying to walk because they can’t see the Father rejoicing in and celebrating his child” (Explicit Gospel).
This is truly good news. We are hardwired to stare at wrecks, disabilities, destruction, and fights. This means that we often stare at the same brokenness in us, but the gospel makes us…
…free from the carnage we stop and stare at
Ephesians 2:12-13 (NIV) remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Application: Christmas isn’t about you. Life isn’t about you. And when we stop and stare at all the brokenness that is in us and say “woe is me” and throw pity parties, we rob God of the glory that is in Christ. He is here. He has set you free. The battle cry of the gospel began with the cry of a baby.
[ click ] How Do We Respond To This?
So What? You’re welcome here! I know you may be farrrrrr off and the only thing on your radar right now is if you’re getting an iPhone 5 for Christmas or not. It’s cool. We want you here. But while you’re here, don’t miss the message that Jesus is here, and that means salvation is here.
So-So… It’s the Christmas story…blah, blah, blah…baby Jesus…blah, blah, blah…I’ve heard this all before… I hear you. But hear me out once more: in Christ you are free. Maybe your apathy is a result of your sense of duty. Maybe you feel like you have to sit still, and listen, and wear Polo shirts to be a “good Christian.” Maybe you’ve lost the wonder of this time of year. Maybe you’ve forgotten that the first cries of baby Jesus are more like the trumpet blast mustering an army for war. Maybe you need to remember your role in the story this year.
Sold Out! Keep taking steps in obedience. When children fall, they don’t beat themselves up. They run to their Daddy to make it all better. You don’t have to pay for your sin over and over and over again. Jesus Christ already did. You are free from your own shortcomings and your own sense of failure. And that is a phenomenal Christmas present!
Anticipate Advent. Reclaim your childlike wonder at the coming of Christ. And remember that this isn’t a story that makes cute Christmas cards. This is a declaration of war. Because the battle cry of the gospel began with the cry of a baby.
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices! For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn’.”