Thank you to all who cooked and baked and came to vote for our fabulous Chili and Dessert Cook Off! Congratulations to Annie Casturo, our youngest chili winner ever! And Janet Woessner, wow, I agree, your pie was incredible! And more congratulations to the runners up, Tracy Saber for her chili and the Hrivnak family for their pumpkin cookies.
This Sunday, as we continue our Lion and Lamb series, we are looking at the Word. What does it mean that Jesus is the Word of God, the Word made flesh? One of the Old Testament passages we will study on Sunday is from Isaiah 55:10-11:
Merry Christmas and Happy Sunshine! It may be cold, but I am celebrating the parting of the clouds this morning. Malachi 4:2 says, "For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays." This is a powerful reminder of the healing power of sunshine and the promised healing of the Sun of Righteousness, the Son of God.
As we have looked at the promises of "Lion," "Lamb," and "Word" during this sermon series, this Sunday we are considering what it means that God promised a Son. The Bible has a long list of miraculous births. Isaac, whose name meant laughter, was born after Abraham and Sarah thought it was impossible for them to have children. Rachel thought she could not bear children, but the Lord heard her prayer and gave her Joseph and later Benjamin. An angel appeared to Manoah's wife and told her she was going to bear a son who would be named Samson. Ancient Zechariah had an angel tell him he was going to have a son to be named John, but Zechariah couldn't believe it was possible and thus was struck mute until John's birth.
If angels and miraculous births had happened before, what set apart Jesus' birth as special? His Father. All of the other births required a human father and mother, but this time, God Himself intervened.
Imagine the shock to Mary's betrothed, Joseph. It was quite a scandal to have a pregnant fiancé. Society would think either it was his fault, or he had been betrayed. Both would result in shame. Joseph knew this child was not his, yet he wanted to treat Mary honorably and protect her as well as he could. He would quietly divorce her to minimize the impact on her life.
At least that was his plan until Gabriel showed up and announced, "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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:20-21). In other words, Joseph, son of David, meet your son, the Son of God.
I have always loved Michael Card's description of Joseph's experience in his "Joseph's Song: "Father show me where I fit into this plan of yours. How can a man be father to the Son of God? Lord, for all my life I've been a simple carpenter. How can I raise a King?" This was the Son of God, and still Joseph would need to raise him and teach him to walk and talk and build tables and chairs.
On Sunday, we will talk more about what it meant that Jesus was the Son of Man and the Son of God, fully human and fully divine. God chose to reveal the second person of the Trinity within the relationship between Father and Son. Although a son had been promised long ago in Isaiah, even all the way back to Genesis 3, no one expected the Son who was given. Colossians 1:15-20 offers one of the best descriptions:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
This Son came from heaven to live on earth, to take on our frail flesh, to die for us, so that He could break the bonds of sin and death and set us free.
Hail the Heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing:
"Glory to the newborn King!"