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Christmas Carols - The First Noel

 It's the first weekend of Advent.  I am going to use the weekends this year to pick out four (or five) well-known Christmas carols, or hymns, to tell their story and how they contribute to the celebration of Advent.  I've always loved Christmas carols and hymns.  The words within many of them are rich in telling the story of Advent - the Incarnation.  First, the story of the song "The First Noel", which is one of the longest Christmas songs: The First Noel the angel did say Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay; In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep, On a cold winter's night that was so deep. Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel. They looked up and saw a star Shining in the east beyond them far, And to the earth it gave great light, And so it continued both day and night. Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel. And by the light of that same star Three wise men came from country far; To seek for a king was their intent,
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A Cosmic Christmas

 In Advent, we celebrate the incarnation - the promised "Immanuel" - for God came among us in His Son.  The picture most often associated with Advent is a baby in a manger.  While I'm all for celebrating the birth of Christ, I also want to remember Christ existed from eternity's past.  While Jesus "entered" into this world as a baby, he did not begin to exist when the Holy Spirit planted the seed in Mary's womb.   The scripture bears witness to Christ in eternity's past.  For example: John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.   Genesis 1:1  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.   Colossians 1:15-17  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, wheth

In the Fullness of Time

 Advent is the celebration of the Incarnation of our Savior, Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary in a manger, in Bethlehem.  We know the story well.  It is a story that has been portrayed in 10's of thousands of manger scenes, in movies, Christmas cards, as well as books and sermons.  I love the story as it unfolds in Old Testament prophecy: Isaiah 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. And as it unfolds in real-time:   Luke 1:30-31  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  What fascinates me about the story of Jesus' birth is the thoughts (musings) of how it all came about in Heaven.  We know that God's plan for redemption occurred from the beginning of creation: Ephesians 1:3-4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Ch

The Believer's Unbelief

 Inside all of us is a little doubt.  We sometimes struggle to live by the faith we so surely believe in.  The story of the first Advent is a story of God using "not-so-great people" - maybe the exception is Mary.  The Gospel of Luke gives us a full picture of the humans God chose.   Luke 1:5  In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Zechariah is an older man and a priest in Israel.  The division speaks of the way in which the Priesthood did not serve full-time but during seasons of the year.  His wife Elizabeth, is also from the line of the Priesthood - a daughter of Aaron by descent.  They loved and served God, but there was a problem. Luke 1:6-7  And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in y

Waiting in Hope

 Advent is a season of "expectant waiting".   For some, it's waiting for Christmas day's festivities and all the preparation that goes into that.  It might be the expectancy of loved ones coming to be together and waiting for travel days.  Waiting is not always easy - especially for kids! Not all waiting is joyful.  I have a friend who is battling ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease.  There is no known cure for ALS...but there is God!  She has faith that believes in God and so she will never give up believing God can change all of her circumstances around.  And so she waits...in faith, confident of God, waiting in Hope. Have you ever considered how much of the Advent story is surrounded by people who waited?  From early on God made promises of what he was going to do to redeem and heal his creation.  To Abraham, God spoke saying:  Genesis 12:2-3  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will

The Seed of the Woman

 Did you know that Advent begins in Genesis 3?  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1 reminds us that God saw all that He created and said, "It is good".  The creation included humans -  Genesis 1:27, " So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them ."  We bear the imago dei - the image of God...and God said, " it was very good".  Everything was good until the third chapter.  We meet God's enemy, Satan in the guise of a serpent. His approach hasn't changed much since then:  " Did God really say?"  - plant some doubts, why would anyone really believe God's word is truth?  " You won't die, but instead you'll be just like God" - why submit to God's word when you can be your own boss, make your own decisions, and be free!  The freedom Satan offered turned to bondage - as Luther wrote - On the Bondage of Sin.  Obedience gave way to

Advent 2022 - The Consolation of Hope

 This morning we begin the Advent Season again.  I love Advent because it reminds me that God once came to live among us.  Jesus' incarnation was God's first Advent - His purposed intervention in a world of darkness.  Jesus ascended to Heaven's throne as the "lamb slain from the foundation of the world".  Now, we wait for his second Advent.  Can we wait in faith?  Spurgeon reminded me this morning of Israel's hope that had waited for millennium. “The consolation of Israel….” —Luke 2:25 All the saints have waited for Jesus. Our mother Eve waited for the coming of Christ; when her first son was born, she said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). True she was mistaken in what she said: it was Cain, and not Jesus. But by her mistake we see that she cherished the blessed hope. That Hebrew patriarch, who took his son, his only son, to offer him for a burnt offering, expected the Messiah, and well did he express his faith when he said, “My son, God wil