Many Jews of Jesus’ day were looking forward to the coming Messiah, the “Anointed One” who would save them. But they pictured being “saved” as being freed from Roman rule politically.
Check out Isaiah 61, one of the many passages that describe what the anointed one was to be about when he came to earth…
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
The focus isn’t directed toward the religious or the chosen… but rather the Anointed Messiah, Jesus, would be concerned with the poor (they get good news), the brokenhearted (they get comfort), the captives (they get release), the prisoners (they get freed), the mourners (they get hope along with God’s blessing and a crown of beauty and a praise party).
As ones who self-identify as followers of Jesus, his disciples of this modern era, are we about those same things? Are we spending a majority of our time, treasures, and ministry reaching out to those to whom the Anointed One was sent to minister to?
FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, Reynoldsville
ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING LITURGY
December 24, 2007
READ SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:6-7
READING: In this prophecy, Isaiah offers hope to the people of Galilee of the Gentiles… for out of them will come a great light shining in the darkness… a Deliverer to free them from oppression. And with those famous words: “For unto us a son is born…” God let them know that the Deliverer would be one of their own… Born into the chosen people of God who would know them and their ways and understand them in their entirety.
But the oppression the Deliverer would set them free from wasn’t just a political system… as evidenced by the names God ascribes to the Deliverer… “He will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR… MIGHTY GOD… EVERLASTING FATHER… and PRINCE OF PEACE.” They didn’t yet realize it, but God was telling them in advance that this Deliverer would come to rule a kingdom of hearts… and set them free from the oppression of evil… And destroy the power of Satan.
As we light this last candle in our Advent Wreath, the white candle in the center that we call the CHRIST CANDLE, we remember that Jesus came as Deliverer… for them and for us… to deliver them, and us, from the oppression of evil. Thousands of years have passed, and Jesus still offers to deliver people from the effects of sin and evil… if we will allow him.
Let’s make this Christmas complete by inviting Jesus to be our Lord, our Savior, our Friend, and… our Deliverer… Let’s allow Him to reign as King and Lord of our lives.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we welcome you to our church, our homes, and our lives. Reign on the thrones of our hearts as our King and Lord. Deliver us from evil and help us to follow you for the rest of our lives. AMEN.
This is the liturgy for our fourth week of Advent Candle Lighting.
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SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2
READING: Isaiah offered hope to those who lived in times of spiritual darkness… There was a LIGHT that was coming… and that light would shine forth and pierce the darkness. All in darkness would be able to see the light… even those that actually lived in the midst of great darkness… even the ones that lived in the shadow of death would see the light.
Hope WOULD come!
The light WOULD shine!
As we light this fourth Advent candle, we remember that although Isaiah’s prophecy spoke about Jesus coming some 2000 years ago, it also speaks of His second coming which is yet to happen. And like that first coming, He will come as the light when there is a time of great darkness… and everyone living in darkness will have a chance to see the light… Even those who live in the darkest recesses of the darkest, most grievous shadows of death itself.
Hope IS coming!
The light WILL shine!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you said you were the light of the world and then, for those who follow you, you said we also would be light. Lord, as we live our lives we recognize more and more the deepness of the darkness around us. We need to be light like we’ve never been before… sharing the good news that YOU love us and want to save us. But ultimately Lord, it’s YOUR light that we hope for and wait for. You are coming! HALLELUJAH!!! AMEN.
This was the Advent Candle Lighting liturgy from this past Sunday.
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SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 7:14
READING: In this second prophecy about the coming Messiah, the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, has just delivered God’s message of hope to Judah’s King Ahaz… Judah will NOT be conquered by the enemies that are threatening them. God offers to give King Ahaz a sign that he’ll keep his promise… and says that Ahaz can ask for any sign he wants that God will really deliver His people.
Ahaz has always tried to be non-committal with Isaiah, trying to play it safe, and so he tries that same thing now with God… he refuses to ask for a sign… even though God has commanded him to.
So God picks… The sign will be a virgin who will conceive and then bear a son. And as that child grows, the people will be delivered from their enemies. In Ahaz’s day, there was a partial fulfillment of this. A young woman who was a virgin when Isaiah spoke these words, truly did conceive and bear a son… but it was in the normal way that sons were born. And before that son was grown, the people actually were delivered from their enemies … the two kings that Ahaz had so feared, were dead.
But God also had a deeper message of a longer lasting deliverance in mind when he prophecied to Ahaz through Isaiah: There would be another virgin who would conceive… as a virgin! And her son would not only bring deliverance to His people, but he would actually be the deliverer!
So many times in Scripture, and in our daily lives as well, we think we understand what God means and what He has said. But quite often, we only understand a portion of His word… only a part of His will is truly understood. As we light the second purple candle in our Advent Wreath, we do well to remember the apostle Paul’s words from centuries later, when he wrote “Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known.” Only when Christ comes back again, will we finally be able to see the big picture the way God sees it… and has seen it all along.
PRAYER: Father God, we read your word and hear your message, and we think we understand your will and your ways. But just like Ahaz and Isaiah, Paul and the prophets, we only see a part of what you are doing. We don’t understand your ways or what you’re trying to do. Teach us to trust You and Your Holy Spirit as you lead us and guide us… whether it makes sense to us or not. AMEN