Brad had the kids come forward to help pass out tamarack branches which we were encouraged to take home and place in a glass of water. We'll report on what we saw happen Christmas eve.
~Kurt shared that there will be an abbreviated lock-in Dec 13, 6 p.m. till midnight.
~Dec 17, parents are encouraged to come meet with the youth group.
~There's a pizzas and brats fund raiser at Adolph Store to raise money to send kids to CHIC.
Darlene played a beautiful medley of Christmas music to usher us into worship. The women's chorus led us in a pair of Christmas hymns followed by the taking of the offering and collection of the Covenant World Relief soup cans.
John Vanderscheuren lit the first Advent candle as Christina read a passage from the scriptures. After special music by the women's chorus Brad took the pulpit to deliver the message.
Brad first read from Isaiah 64:1-9.
In Old Testament Israel they were looking for a superhero. Their Messiah was the one they longed for. Their expectation was for an anointed one, who would be a king.
The two things they expected of this hero were that he would defeat their enemies in battle, and he would restore worship in the temple.
The most prominent Messianic title was "Son of David." This was the expectation, that this Son of David would defeat the enemies of Israel. He would be King of the Jews.
When Herod became king he took steps to be identified with this Messiah-expectation. He defeated some enemies in battle. And he managed to acquire the title King of the Jews from the Roman authorities.
When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, John said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) This was a very different anointing from the anticipated anointing of a king.
What happens to a lamb of God? In Israel, every year at Passover a lamb was selected for sacrifice, a tradition going back to the days of this people's exile in Egypt and the deliverance wrought by Moses. The expectations of a messiah were tied to deliverance.
But Brad wasn't simply interested in telling us anecdotes from history. His aim was to bring it home to us.
Our problem is not a political problem. Israel's problem was not a Roman problem. Politics or violence will not solve the problem. Love, sacrifice and the way of the Cross are at the center of God's solution.
We all tend to set ourselves up as little messiahs. "I want to rule my world."
Brad interjected a lighter moment with a story about three men with a Messiah complex story. Their psychiatrist puts them in a room to see how they'll get along. The first makes some extravagant statement which leads the second to say, "Who told you that?" He says, "God did." The third replies, "I never told you that."
Jesus was and is the Messiah. He's the one we've been waiting for. But He's more than that. He's the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.
Brad noted the passage in Exodus 12 where each household was to select a lamb as a sacrifice for Passover. It is on lamb selection day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem.
When they celebrated Passover they wanted God to do again what He had done when Moses led the historical exodus.
Brad then described Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem... a near hysterical revelry by a crowd waving palm branches. These palm branches were symbolic of the Maccabean revolt that had occurred approximately 160 years earlier.
Waving of palm branches was a Messianic symbol gone wild. People were dancing and cheering because they thought He was coming to give them what they want. They expected Jesus to lead a revolt and the Romans would get what was coming to them.
Jesus "If you'd only known what would bring you peace." Jesus wept over Jerusalem's ignorance.
The cross is what happened to failed Messiahs. The people didn't understand that He came on a very different mission, to serve the world... not to lead armies to overthrow oppressive empires.
Brad noted how we all tend to filter our world through our own messiah-complex. Every human has suffered from a grandiosity-complex... except one. And He was the Messiah.
To the extent that I align myself with Him, I am on the right path.
Ultimately, Jesus puts the question to each of us as He did to His disciples in Matthew 16: "Who do you say that I am?"