Summary: Week #1 of Advent Conspiracy; "Worship Fully"
FOUR WORDS THAT COULD CHANGE YOUR CHRISTMAS: WORSHIP*
Big Idea: Week #1 of Advent Conspiracy, Worship Fully
So we begin our Advent journey today. You know by now that we are taking our cues from The Advent Conspiracy (www.adventconspiracy.org). We are passionately looking at how we can do Christmas differently this year. We are seeking to instill the season with the meaning we know it should have. We are asking proactive questions that will help us get to the end of the season without an ache of emptiness; without a sense of exasperation and disappointment.
So, to help you with that, I am going to offer you “Four Words That Can Change Your Christmas.” We will focus on one word each week of Advent.
For a hint at today’s word let’s read from Luke 2.
22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
This story from Jesus’ life takes place a few weeks after his birth. Joseph and Mary are headed to the temple to offer the sacrifices required. As far as they knew, they were initiating this overture -- but we know that God has gone before them don’t we? Even though they have to offer the sacrifice of the poor (pigeons and doves as opposed to a Lamb) they show they will honor God with their livelihood. This sacrifice will not be business as usual. They will not simply go through the rituals and routines as had been done myriad of times before. This event was to be different.
Simeon and Anna also had a “something other” experience that day.
I would encourage you this week to look at this story again. Ask questions (and find answers like:
• How many sacrifices do you suppose were offered at the temple each day?
• If you served at the temple like Anna and Simeon, could it become easy for that service to become mundane and lose its impact?
• Are there principles in the story that might have helped those who served at the temple prevent it from losing its impact?
• What rituals do we have that surround the birth of Jesus?
• Can they (have they) lost some of their impact and significance?
• What has happened to allow them to lose some of their value?
• Are there principles in this story that might help us maintain (or regain) that meaning?
In fact, as you now know, we have set up an interactive blog called “Advent @ the Naz!” where each week during Advent we will post the story and some questions and encourage you to meditate and then engage in the conversation around the posted questions; and any that others may post as well.