Worship

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Introduction:

We have been journeying through our current Advent sermon series, Caught In the Undertow. All around us and even within us we sense the rush of the season. We can get swept into the current of running from here to there, gift buying, and Christmas parties, that we do not take time to slow down and take time to reflect on the things that have deeper and more significant meaning.

Soon we will get to Christmas day and it could end up being like any other day that is easily forgotten. So we have to be diligent to remember and embrace patterns and practices that keep us from getting swept away into the temporary, the disposable, the here today and gone tomorrow.

Today we will be in Luke 1:5-55 and you can turn there now.

What is Advent? How has God been speaking to you during this season?

We have explored the call to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ, to be eagerly expecting his coming as a newborn babe and expecting His returning again. Last week we discovered that Advent reminds us that we are to receive all good and perfect gifts from God. We are to receive joy, grace, love, peace, and power. And we are invited to seek Him and to receive His forgiveness and salvation.

When we come expecting and we are open to receive from the Lord, then we are given a chance to respond to Him. That response we hear in the scripture for today, known as the Magnificat.

Movement 1:

Luke 1:5-55 (NLT)

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.[b] 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,[c] and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.

23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home.24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings,[d] favored woman! The Lord is with you![e]

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel[f] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.[g]

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise

46 Mary responded,
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47     How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Movement 2: 

Old Testament worship revolved around the temple and the high priest. The people did not have direct access to God to worship Him. They would present their offering to the High Priest and then he would offer their worship to God within the Holy of Holies. Often there was an animal or blood sacrifice to be made. The dwelling place of God was at the temple or tent of meeting and did not dwell among the people.

As Israel’s disobedience continued and they strayed from following the covenant, God ceased speaking. As we talked about a couple weeks ago, God was silent for 400 years. Here, Mary is well-aware of the of the scriptures and the prophecies of a messiah. But after 400 years of nothing, what would you think? Your hope might have been waning. But then an angel shows up and declares that you are pregnant and will bear a child, God’s son who you are to name Jesus.

You are not yet married but are pregnant. An interesting way to break the silence and to send the Messiah. Not what Mary and Joseph or any other Jew could have expected.

It seems that its fitting though. Many times, the realities of life are not what we expect.

Mary has a choice in this moment. What is going to be her response to the angel? What is going to be her response to the revelation from God?

In our society today there is a lot of cynicism. If I am honest, I can struggle with being a cynic and finding the negative instead of the positive in situations. All around us is negativity so it’s pretty easy to get sucked into it.

We are also impatient – wanting immediate gratification.

Mary, and really every other Jew, had plenty of reasons to be cynical and impatient that could have led to lost hope or even rejection.

But “Mary loved God and wanted to serve Him with all her heart. But she was just a poor girl in an insignificant town, from a humble family, with little expectations that her life was going to be any different than most. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her she was chosen and favored by God to be the mother of His son, despite her own fear, she exhibited great courage and character: “I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).

Mary responded in worship of the Lord God.

46 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

What Mary may not have realized in the moment that because of her response of worship, it would forever change the worship of her people and the worship of Yahweh.

 

Movement 3:

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus forever changed the pattern of worship. God sending His son as a baby to redeem the world dramatically altered the religious landscape.

We could have an entire sermon series about this topic but for today, there are few things that are important to take away in this season of Advent.

Advent of Worship

  1. Worship is no longer confined to a tabernacle. Christ Himself became the tabernacle and our High Priest.
  2. In Jesus, the move from religion to relationship took place, tearing the veil. We gained direct access to God the Father through Christ the Son.
  3. As it was in the Garden, God dwells among His people (John 1:14)
  4. Worship Is:
    1. Obedience
      1. 38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
    2. Thanksgiving
      1. 51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
        He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
        52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
        and exalted the humble.
        53 He has filled the hungry with good things
        and sent the rich away with empty hands.
    3. Praise
      1. 46 Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47     How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.

Conclusion:

God revealed Himself to Mary, she responds in obedience. She responds in worship.

“She was a willing servant who trusted God and obeyed His call. While her life held great honor, her calling also required great suffering. Though there was joy in motherhood, there was great pain in the privilege of being the mother of the Messiah. Despite these things, she responded to God with great obedience and submission to His plan.”

“She also exhibited great courage and character during Jesus’ earthly life and ministry. She pressed Jesus to provide wine when it ran low at the wedding in Cana, she approached Jesus when He was left behind at the temple, she went from Nazareth to Capernaum when she learned what was being reported there about Jesus, and she attempts to protect Jesus in some of the stickiest of situations. She was a person of discipleship and faith, and the first true follower of Jesus.”

 

Response: Communion

One of the primary ways of responding in worship to God’s movement in us is through the sacrament of communion. Christ Himself instituted this practice and it is one clear way that we affirm and celebrate worship directly to the throne of grace.

This morning, we are going to receive the Lord’s Supper by intinction. In a few moments, I will invite you to come forward as you feel led. I will hold the bread and the cup and you can take a piece of bread, dip it in the juice, and eat. Then you can pray around the altars or return to your seat to pray and reflect.

The Communion Supper, instituted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a sacrament, which proclaims His life, His sufferings, His sacrificial death and resurrection, and the hope of His coming again. It shows forth the Lord’s death until His return.

The Supper is a means of grace in which Christ is present by the Spirit. It is to be received in reverent appreciation and gratefulness for the work of Christ. All those who are truly repentant, forsaking their sins, and believing in Christ for salvation are invited to participate in the death and resurrection of Christ.

We come to the table that we may be renewed in life and salvation and be made one by the Spirit. In unity with the Church, we confess our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

And so we pray:

Holy God, We gather at this, your table, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who by your Spirit was anointed to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, set at liberty those who are oppressed. Christ healed the sick, fed the hungry, ate with sinners, and established the new covenant for forgiveness of sins. We live in the hope of His coming again………….

Words of Institution

On the night in which He was betrayed, He took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, gave it to His disciples, and said: “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Likewise, when the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to His disciples, and said: “Drink from this, all of you, this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”

 

Epiclesis

And so, we gather as the Body of Christ to offer ourselves to you in praise and thanksgiving. Pour out your Holy Spirit on us and on these your gifts. Make them by the power of your Spirit to be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the Body of Christ, redeemed by His blood. By your Spirit make us one in Christ, one with each other, and one in the ministry of Christ to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, let us all pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Let’s gather at the Table of the Lord.

Benediction

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Caught In The Undertow Comfort And Joy In High Tide Or Low

Worship

Caught In The Undertow Comfort And Joy In High Tide Or Low

Receive

Caught In The Undertow Comfort And Joy In High Tide Or Low

Expect