Last Sunday featured some hearty singing (it must have been the hearty meals we ate on Thursday!) as we celebrated Christ the King Sunday. This Sunday closes out the liturgical year and is the last Sunday before we say “happy new year!” with the beginning of the new Christian year in Advent. As we enter into the “holiday season”, last Sunday reminds us of the fact that Christmas is much more than a baby in a manger. As we look towards Advent, the season reminds us that that baby is Lord of the universe, King of all creation, and King of our lives. Some good hymns we sang last week were Rejoice the Lord is King, and ended with the foot tapping hand clapping version of Getty’s Lift High the Name of Jesus. We dedicated baby Greyson and welcomed him into the church (photo above).
Near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he returned to Nazareth. He was the hometown boy, son of a carpenter, whose unexpected teaching ministry was thriving. And on the Sabbath went to the synagogue. With the community gathered on floor mats and benches, they sang and read scripture. The room was saturated with the word of God and the anticipation of young teacher’s sermon.
Luke 4:17-19 says, “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’”
When Isaiah first spoke those words 700 years before, he was speaking to the enslaved people of God. They had lost their freedom and their land. Their debts were burdensome. They were in desperate need of “good news” (v.18). They yearned for “liberty” (v. 18).
Then, with the eyes of everyone fixated on him, Jesus began his message by saying in verse 21, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
When it all fits together
Do you like puzzles? There is an undeniably satisfying feeling when a once disorganized pile of puzzle pieces finally comes together in a beautiful picture. When Jesus speaks the 700-year-old words of the prophet Isaiah, the redemptive story of the Bible crystallizes a little bit more. Seemingly scattered Old Testament promises and predictions are being fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah—the anointed one. Jesus came to speak the hope of the Gospel into the lives of the oppressed and burdened. And the hope of their deliverance was realized in his death and resurrection, which freed them not just from shame, but from their sin. He freed them from both the punishment and power of sin. He proclaimed a “liberty” (v.18) unlike any other person in the history of the world.
This Advent season we are exploring the prophecies of Isaiah, “Signs of the Savior.” Our reflection on the story of Jesus’ birth will be grounded in the rich promises and predictions that Isaiah delivered to hopeless people.
Will we take time to marvel at the piecing together of God’s redemptive plan?
Will we feel satisfying joy as the unique purpose of Jesus’ mission becomes clearer?
How might we be spurred on to more vulnerably trust God and his plan for our lives?
We hope that you will join us as we begin our journey at our Lessons and Carols service next Sunday, 9:30 & 11a, as well as the following Sundays leading up to Christmas. In addition our Sunday morning services, “Evensong” returns on Wednesday, December 5th and 12th at 6:45-7:15p. This seasonal service is a beautiful midweek opportunity to re-connect with God and worship him. See you soon!