12/10/06, A-2-C

“He Has Redeemed His People”
Luke 1: 67-79

67Then his (John the Baptist) father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: 68“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel , for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. 69He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, 70as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71that we would be saved from our enemies ( Rome ) and from the hand of all who hate us. 72Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us 74that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 78By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (NRSV)

hristmas has a way of sneaking up on us. We have all heard people remark: “Do you have your shopping done? Christmas seems to have come faster this year!” Perhaps they are waiting on a holiday and not God’s Holy-Day.

However, we were affirmed in our faith by the several thousands of Metro Atlantan’s who came to our campus to “Walk Through Bethlehem.” Many shared with us how much they were spiritually moved by the last stop at the Holy Manger.Warnie Lewis told of being on a bus in December and as the bus passed a church with a simple manger scene on the lawn a woman said loudly, “Just look at that will you, the church is trying to take over everything and now they are getting into Christmas too!”

It seems that much of the same loss of a proper expectation was also true among the Hebrews of the first Christmas. They had waited so long that they had about forgotten God’s Promise of Redemption. Many had distorted the meaning of the promise of salvation for the Hebrew people, yet there was a remnant that was still expectant of redemption.God had to look hard to find a couple who would even remember the promise of the Heavenly Father. Evidently the old prophet Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, who was a cousin of Mary, were qualified to hear the story of God’s potential Redemption of all humanity. This couple was of priestly tribes. So, God expected that He would find in them some awareness, and need for, the Promised Redeemer. Fortunately both caught on to what the Angel Gabriel was saying to them about their future son becoming a preacher and baptizer of many Jews as a way of preparing the way for the Messiah’s birth. In today’s world we are caught between two Advents.

He came at Christmas and He has promised to come again at the “end of time.” All of my life I have heard about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Sometimes emotionalism has led good people to set dates for the Rapture, forgetting that God sets His own calendar without our help. God acts in a deliberate manner. He sometimes allows long periods of silence; yet, He always fulfills His Promises. The Christ Event fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament related to the introduction to Redemption. Jesus was born to make salvation possible for everybody everywhere. We are living in an age of Grace. In His love God desired that we would have a free choice to decide whether to walk with Him. God wanted us for His own children. Theology points out that if humanity was not allowed freedom to fall from the Garden then we would have been little more than pre-set robots.

God created us in His own image and with independence. Parents and grandparents know it is true. As infants we grab for the pretty toy and cry of someone tries to take that away. Rebellion is a part of our personality and it is ingrained in all. Our Father allows us to be tempted by the wiles of Satan, but then Redeems us back by the compelling love of Christ.As steel is manufactured by extreme heat in order to make it strong; so we are made worth, nobler and spiritually strong, by overcoming the pain, sorrow and trials of life. In one way or another we have all failed our Heavenly Father and we need to accept His Christmas Gift of the Redemption.Christmas, only God could have thought it up! Everyone is captured by the wonder of the beautiful story.

The Nativity is a unique event of eternal importance to all of us. It records an actual historical event, meant to capture our hearts and change our lives through the Redemption of God. We need to thing of being ready for Christmas in a broader way. Its not so much about shopping and wrapping presents, but in a broader sense it is about being ready for the eventualities of the remainder of our lives on earth and our preparedness of being ready to take our seat in Glory. Redemption is the Real Reason for the Season!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
12/10/06, A-2-C