Sermon November 28, 2021: Yearning for the Messiah (Advent 1)

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/650694820

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/crXunjVIJ1e

———————————————–

If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with this prayer:

O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!

HYMN O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, v 1-2, 6-7
O Come O Come Emmanuel (Christmas Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQP0JsxEdPo

OR
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – Hymns and Hers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj6vzfkk8II

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer

Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help.
I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life.
Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not.
Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature.
Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord.
Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN He Lives!
David Phelps – He Lives from Hymnal (Official Music Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX8BD-h4F2I

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Yearning for the Messiah
Text: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, Luke 2:10-11, John 4:25-26
Series: Christmas Story Connections – We’re In This Together

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Saturday Video AudioWesley Church Audio

——————————————————————————————————–
SERMON NOTES

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. 
(See also Matthew 4:12-17)

Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

John 4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
Meredith Andrews – Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Official Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOxJFN-9_vs

OR
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Red Mountain Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRAFQCOkjgE

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

BENEDICTION: Please recommit your life to the service of Jesus as Lord with the words of The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Friends, we are in a season of yearning for the Messiah. Yearning means we hope for what is to come … acknowledging that life is not perfect yet, in fact, far from perfect. But let’s have another look at hope.

Hope is about yearning for a potential future. As you heard me say the last two Sundays, as we talked about the stress of the holidays, hope is the most powerful antidepressant. It lifts our spirits when we are tempted to despair. And when you consider all the negativity that is like poison all around us, hope is the antidote – because God is not finished yet. Hope yearns for a messiah, for the one from God who will make all things right. Who will take what is broken and mend it … so that all may be whole as God always wanted it to be.

What are we yearning for? We are yearning to be whole, to be forgiven, to be justified, to be made right, to be righteous. We are yearning for God to fulfill what we cannot. We are yearning for God to lead us over the gap from where we are and where in our deepest yearnings of the heart want to be. We are yearning for God to mend everything that is broken. We are yearning for God to make things right. We are yearning for God to mend what is broken in each of us. We want God to make all things new and whole again, and yearning for the Messiah is simply this: we yearn for the person that God will send to do this work.

Now, over all the centuries, this yearning has sometimes gone astray. Throughout all of history, people have assumed that the Messiah is a political figure. If you talked to the people of Jesus’ day, the Jewish people of Jesus’ day, they would tell you that the Messiah is the one who is going to come and fix things in the political world because they were under a Roman dictatorship/ And their understanding of the scriptures was that the Messiah was going to throw off the Roman oppression and the kingdom of David would be restored.

Friends, that temptation to see salvation in some political figure has always troubled the world, from every dictator that’s ever lived … right up to Hitler, whom the German people thought would save them. To Chairman Mao and other leaders of the Communist Party, who said there was no God and then made themselves gods. Even now to today, where the current dictator of China is tightening his personal control over the world’s largest nation.

Let’s not be tempted to believe that God’s salvation is going to come through some political hero! It leads us astray.

Not only that, in Jesus’s day, they saw the Messiah– you remember the temptation of Jesus? And the devil says, “Worship me, and I’ll have the angels carry you down into the courtyard of the temple.” That’s the way they thought the Messiah would come. And throughout all of history, human beings have built beautiful places of worship where worship almost seems like – what should I call it? – a dramatic presentation, a grand production taking place.

Quite often throughout history, people have seen the Messiah as being some expression of the Church– something beautiful and ornate. And, in fact, this was very common in Jesus’ day, where they saw the temple as being more important than Jesus himself. Sometimes you will hear this as people talk of their hopes as a hope that the Church will suddenly be what changes the world. But a church is not the Messiah.

And I’m sorry to tell you – because this is my problem – knowledge is not the Messiah.

Over the years, I’ve shared this with you in the past– my love and my fascination for books. Not everything has been perfect in my life. Times have been difficult, and when times get difficult, I have found myself wandering up and down the rows at Barnes and Noble. And I suddenly realized one day what I was doing. I was looking for a book with a title that said, Here’s How to Solve All Your Problems. And I suddenly realized that I was looking for a book that would do the Messiah’s job.

Friends, that hasn’t stopped me from buying books. I’ll be honest with you. I own thousands of books. I’ll be honest with you. I’m still looking for the one that tells me how to solve all my problems, even though I know better.

A little cartoon down in the corner of the picture shows the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse– the four disasters that come upon people. And you’ll notice there is a fifth one who’s riding up to join them, and that one’s name is Misinformation. Friends, we are surrounded by misinformation that distracts us and points us in the wrong direction. Now, the wonderful book, The Bible, if we read it, it would be good for us. But I hope you do not have the same struggle I have, which is to look for the Messiah in the pages of a book or some internet website or some YouTube video because new knowledge, no matter how helpful it might be, knowledge is not the Messiah.

Let’s look at the scripture and what it says about the coming Messiah.

Isaiah 9:2, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. And those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness– on them has light shined.” In the Book of Matthew Chapter 4, when Jesus comes and begins his ministry among people, the Book of Matthew says that he is the fulfillment of this promise.

And here’s the rest of it. “For to us, a child is born. To us, a son is given.” Everything begins with the birth of a child. “And the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this.”

People are yearning for the Messiah to come and make things right.

And then, in Luke Chapter 10, we hear these words. “And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy, which will come to all the people. For to you is born this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ’— that’s the Greek word translated as “Messiah”– ‘a savior who is Christ the Lord.'”

This is the Messiah that we’ve been waiting for.

In John Chapter 4, Jesus is having a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. They’re having a little argument, actually. And finally, she says, in order to shut him down, “I know that Messiah is coming– he who is called Christ. When he comes, he will show us all things.” And I can imagine the quiet and gentle voice of Jesus speaking to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

I can imagine the quiet, gentle voice of Jesus speaking to each one of us, “I who speak to you am he.”

You see, friends, we are hardwired for relationship. In fact, we are created for relationship. If you study the psychology of infants, they attach to their mothers as if their mothers were the center of the universe. They were created to bond so perfectly with their mothers that their mothers represent to them all that is good in this world. All the love, every reason to be happy because we are created to have that sort of relationship. We hunger for it and we yearn for it. We are created for it.

And the circle of people that have that relationship with a child gets bigger. A father holds a child. I remember holding my youngest son, and he would lay his head on my chest in the middle of the night after a feeding, and he would fall asleep listening to my heartbeat. Father’s become a part of that relationship of love.

And friends, I’m headed to Texas because grandparents are too! We are created to need this kind of loving relationship in our life. And I honestly want to tell you, we’re created for God to be in a relationship with us just like that. We are created for Jesus Christ to be the one that gives us that sense of security, that sense that it’s going to be okay for Jesus Christ to be the one who we look to for help. We are created to be in that kind of relationship with the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

But we could not have that relationship before Christ came into this world at Christmas. By the way, there they are. (My grandchildren!) Obviously, this picture was taken in summer, but it’s the most recent one I could find on Facebook with all three of them in it. Can’t wait to hold them on my lap. Can’t wait to read the same story over and over and over again. They always have a favorite book, and they want you to read it to them over and over and over again.

You see the people who love us, the people who surround us with love and guide us and encourage us, they teach us more powerfully than books. In fact, an actual measurement of how well you will do in life emerges out of this way of being loved by others in the early days. Sadly, not every child has this kind of love. Not every mother is perfect, not every father is perfect, and sometimes children grow up without this kind of loving relationship.

The words on the other picture there, “I am not a naughty brat,” the little girl says in her heart. “I’m little and I’m still learning. I get overwhelmed and frustrated just like you do because nobody is perfect. Help me. Guide me. Love me.” That’s what the hearts of every … every child yearn for.

And friends inside of you and I, there is still that child’s heart yearning to be loved, yearning to be helped, yearning to be guided. And frankly, because people are imperfect, there comes a point of time as we grow, that we need to turn our yearning for that kind of love in our life to Jesus Christ because people can’t do everything that our hearts need, but God can because you see, the Messiah is a relationship.

And the guidance and help and the healing that we experience comes from a living relationship just like that. It’s not about politics and government. It’s not about a church building or singing hymns or sermons, no matter how incredibly good they are. It’s not about books and knowledge. What we need most comes from a relationship. And the relationship that can meet all of our needs is a relationship with Jesus Christ as your Messiah, as the one who guides you, and helps you, and loves you.

And to some of us, this seems very real because Jesus seems like a friend to us. But to some of us, perhaps this may feel like this is some sort of strange message … because we have this sense in our hearts that God is way up there. But what Christmas teaches us, the word Emmanuel, God with us, is that the desire of Jesus Christ is not to be way up there but to be right here: a personal experience with a genuine friend and Savior.

So let me ask this question today – it’s a good question – how is your relationship with the Messiah?

This prayer that I wrote so many years ago was actually a homework assignment in seminary. The professor said, “I want you to go home and write a prayer, where if people pray it, they become Christians.” And I thought to myself, “That’s not hard.” But what we really need is a prayer that if we prayed it every day, we will not only be a Christian, we would be a better Christian. What we need is a prayer that helps us grow every day and deepens that relationship with Jesus Christ.

And this is the prayer that I wrote. Let me invite you in your hearts to pray it with me because if you pray this prayer, if it’s the sincere desire of your heart, if it’s the decision of your mind, if it’s what your faith and hope yearns for, every day, you will become more and more a Christian. And every day, you will deepen your relationship with the Messiah. You could add to it. But to me, I think this is the heart of it.

Lord Jesus, today, I am far less than the person I want to be, that’s the yearning, or can be with your help, that’s the yearning and the faith and the hope. I ask today, Lord Jesus, that you would be more and more the center of my life.

Like a little child that needs to learn how to walk, Lord, guide me to all that is good. Cleanse me from all that is not. I will make mistakes. If I’m all dressed up for church and there’s a mud puddle, Lord, one of these days, I’ll fall in it. Cleanse me from all that is not good. Teach me your ways and form in me your nature.

Help me to serve you as I’m gifted. There’s something I can do. Help me to serve you.

And indeed, Lord, help me to notice my neighbor, to notice other people, to notice their hurts and their yearnings. And, Lord, work through me to redeem my neighborhood.

I’m a sinner, still, a sinner, still needing help and guidance. So, Lord Jesus, please be my shepherd, my savior, and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, as we turn our hearts to you, we yearn to speak. And so our lips form words of prayer. Our yearning, a feeling in our heart, turns into words. And we ask you to help us. We ask you to guide us. We ask you to love us because you created people to yearn for this unconditional love that you, Lord Jesus, bring into us and shower down upon us. And so, Lord, I pray during this Christmas season, where our yearnings for you are expressed as we celebrate the joy of Christmas, Lord, make Christmas come true for us. Come to us. Abide in us. Oh, Lord, Emmanuel. Amen. Amen!

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

This entry was posted in Attend "Worship at Home". Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.