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  • Andy Grice

Christingles - Aftermaths #1


There's a couple of audio recordings below if you click on the headphones (you may need to click on "Read More" first) But some of the recordings don't seem very clear so Andy's script is included as well.

So for those visiting or those who usually go to Junior Church … It night be helpful for you to know that here in senior church … since the beginning of Advent … we have been thinking about “The Journey” …

Using a book by Paula Gooder called Journey to the Manger … we’ve been thinking about the Christmas story as a journey …

So we’ve thought about the Antecedents of the Christmas story … which is just a posh way of saying what came before … and so we thought about how Matthew wants us to know that Jesus Ancestors include Abraham … the Father of the Jewish faith … Luke however wants to root the story further back than that … he wants us to know that Jesus can trace his family tree right back to Adam … the Father of the human race … but John … the last Gospel to be written … goes even further than that … and he tells us that Jesus is of course the Son of God

… and so the story really begins there with the Father of the whole universe …

and so we’ve been thinking about how the Christmas story stretches right back to the very beginning of time.

We then thought about Announcements … about how the coming birth of Jesus was announced to Mary and to Joseph and how the birth of Jesus cousin John the Baptist was announced to his mother Elisabeth and father Zechariah.

We then thought about Arrivals … the arrival first of John the Baptist … and then on Christmas morning about the Arrival of Jesus …

Sow we’ve looked at Antecedents, Announcements, Arrivals … and next I’d like us to look at Aftermaths … what came next …

so we’re going to hear a reading from Luke Chapter 2

Reading Luke 2:21-40

So we’ve seen that the Christmas story doesn’t start with the birth of Jesus … but stretches back to the very beginning of time …

However, we do tend to focus on the stable and Mary and the Angels … and if you get a religious Christmas card these tend to be the scenes that are depicted …

However, the story doesn’t end with the birth in the stable … but carries on … and after the birth … the wise men turn up … which we’ll be thinking more about that on the 10th of Jan … the Sunday after Epiphany …

But although the wise men happen after the birth of Jesus they still appear on Christmas cards … alongside the scenes of angels and stables …

However, I don’t believe I have ever seen a Christmas card depicting the scene from Luke 2 with Simeon and Anna … it’s like they’ve almost been written out of the story … so I’d like us very briefly to look at these two Simeon and Anna … which we hear about in our reading

But before we do …

[Let’s pray]

So after Jesus is born Mary and Joseph take their boy to the Temple to present Him before the Lord …

This is to redeem their firstborn Son … and so Joseph redeems the one who will go on to redeem the whole world …

and it’s worth noticing that the offering of a pair of doves or two young pigeons is the sacrifice offered by the poor … Jesus was born into poverty …

And at the Temple Luke tells us they run into two key people … Simeon … and Anna …

Anna … we are told … was a prophet … and we are told came from one of the northern tribes …

which is significant because it means she couldn’t commute to the Temple

… no …

she lived there … spending each day worshipping … in prayer and fasting …

And we are also told that she was very old … she was at least 84 years old … although it is possible to read the original language in a way that suggests she has been living in the Temple for 84 years after 7 years of marriage which would have been from the age of 12 … which would make her … 84+12+7 = ?? 103 …

Either way you look at it 84 …. 103 or somewhere in between …

she is … and I need to be careful what I say here … at 84 she is pretty old …

and she was doing what she always did … she was worshipping in the Temple …

And God revealed Jesus to her …

And she then spoke about Jesus with others …

And I just want to point out 3 things … about Anna …

God still speaks to older people J

God speaks through routine and discipline …

Older people can tell people about Jesus …

Notice that the Angels who have been all over the Christmas story have now disappeared … and won’t re-appear until Easter … at the resurrection …

I don’t know how many of you know but Angel means messenger … and Luke seems to want to make the point that the job of being a messenger ow passes to human characters like Anna … like you and like me … and like the other character we heard about in our reading Simeon …

Now Simeon is a little different to Anna … We are not told how old he is … although it is usually assumed that he is at least as old as Anna … but he may not be …

And also … unlike Anna … it doesn’t seem that he routinely went to the Temple … but that God’s Spirit led him there that day … Moved by the Spirit, he went to the temple courts … v27 …

So God can speak to older people like Anna … but actually he speaks to all people no matter what their age …

God can speak through the routine of spiritual disciplines … but also he can break in and speak in new ways …

And I want to point out two things about Simeon … one is what he does and the other is what he says …

Notice … in v28 … took Jesus in his arms … The word in the original language is pretty specific … it describes that crook in the arm you do when taking a little baby …. you know how you do …

The point is that Simeon received Jesus … from his parents … the point being that Simeon not only recognized the significance of the baby Jesus … as we shall see in a minute … but was ready in body and spirit to receive Jesus for himself … bending his arm … as you do … to receive a little baby …

I wonder if we need to be more ready to be aware of the promptings of the Spirit … to change our routines … and be ready to receive what God has for us …

Then finally, notice what Simeon says … in v32 … He recognizes that Jesus will be a light for revelation to the Gentiles …

He recognizes that Jesus is the light of the world …

The prophet Isaiah had said years before …

That the people walking in darkness have seen a great light … for unto us a son is born … a child is given …

And Simeon declares that the light is now here … Jesus … the light of the world …

Before Jesus had done anything … taught anyone … done any miracle … Simeon notices that here in Jesus … is the light of the world … breaking into the darkness to shine as a light … to help us know God … know His love …

Throughout Advent and Christmas we’ve thought about Jesus as the light who breaks in … and I’d like us to think think a bit more about that in a moment … but before we do … I’d like us to sing again … and as we do our offering will be received …

Christingle Craft follows ...


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