Welcome to Brooklands Digital Church on this Second Sunday of Advent!
As always, the service is also available via our YouTube channel.
Our Pastor Rev. Karl Stanfield brings us the message today.
The Bible readings are taken from Psalm 85:1-2, Psalm 85:8-13 and John 4:1-10.
The service starts with a 15 minute countdown, where we share some news and announcements. Please use the scroll bar to skip straight through to the service/message if watching the recording.
If you would like to support our ministry, all donations are thankfully received.
I hope you enjoyed that video and song we have just played. It was sung by Elizabeth Marshall, the lady whose cleaning company works weekly at our church. I remember hearing it before and I thought it was not only lovely but profoundly beautiful.
I loved the oft’ repeated refrain, ‘Because he Loved us so’. One could be excused for thinking that because The Christmas narrative is only found in Matthew and Luke that somehow it is not an essential part of the Gospel. The truth is the Incarnation is crucial to the Story of Salvation. The incarnation simply means that Gods Son took up our weak and sinful flesh and walked amongst us as the Holy One.
We could use some big words and talk about Incarnation, Reconciliation or Propitiation, or big concepts found in the various traditional Theories of Atonement! While they may fascinate the mind, they often do little for the heart. This is why our Wesleyan approach of emphasising the primacy of God’s love is so important, and crucially stressed in this lovely song – ‘Because He Loved Us So!’
Advent is the beginning of a love story. Arguably, it reaches back in time, but not until that conception in the womb of Mary, a young virgin, did the story take on flesh, and take on love as humankind understands it the most.
Another angle on this of course is that just using the word ‘Love’ can so often be misconstrued. Allow me to speak of this in these easy to understand ways…
1. A Child
In the normal scheme of things, parents show love to their new-born infant long before that love is reciprocated. I think it is fair to say that little children are essentially vulnerable, helpless and totally dependent upon mum [primarily] for food, consolation and life.
It is fascinating, however, to watch a young child try to show they are the boss by twisting mum and dad around their little fingers – not so Jesus, I am sure. I don’t believe the line in the carol ‘no crying he makes’; but I do believe he was without that inner tendency to favour self!
Yet it is part of the Gospel, is it not, that ‘He became like us to make it possible for us to become like Him’. My paraphrase of a famously put adage. The coming of Jesus into our world was conceived in purpose and that purpose was an unadulterated and pure love!
This was a child like no other. Yes, he was a new-born like we once were, and yet there is another astounding side. If we consider the implication found in Pauls’ letter to the Colossians, it is breath-taking.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… thrones… powers… rulers… authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col1:15–17)
In essence, the now-famous Nativity Scene, which is an annual re-creation, says emphatically – something very special is happening here. This is the beginning of something phenomenal!
Angels, shepherds, wise men, the star, the animals, the humble scene, Mary and Joseph, the city of Jerusalem packed to capacity, the prophies, King Herod’s interest, and the journey to Egypt as migrants for this young family; this is the coronation setting for the One born ‘King of the Jews’.
But who is this child? He is none other than ‘Immanuel (God with us)’; He is the One worthy of ‘Worship’ by monarchs and the wise. In the words of Gabriel who,‘stands in the presence of God’ (Luke 1: 19), this child is ‘The Good News’. The angel told Mary that he is, ‘The son of the Most-High’.
The angels told the shepherds – He is… ‘Christ the Lord’! This may be ‘A Child’, yet so much more than that. He is…
2. The Christ Child
Simeon had waited patiently and was biding his time until the arrival of the ‘consolation of Israel’. He expressed his faith in believing the prophets of long ago and was anticipating the arrival of the One promised.
While the child showed his love to his parents and siblings in very obvious ways (being obedient, appreciating simple every-day things, being well mannered and the like), the Christ Child grew up to show that this – God-Man – loved the world ‘So Much’. I think it is true to say that for 30 years he showed his love to his family, his community and work, then for his final three years, He loved us so!
He gave up his rights! He gave up his home. He gave up his life, but He did not give up on us! Jesus did what he did to make us ‘children of God’. ‘For God so loved the world He GAVE…’
We read in Luke’s gospel that he ‘gave sight to many who were blind’; once when a sick child was convulsing on the ground, we read that Jesus ‘healed the boy and gave him back to his father!’ In fact, I have been struck by how much emphasis the gospels have upon Christ giving to us! Our gospel reading this morning says, ‘If you knew the gift of God… you would have asked him… and he would have given to you…’ (John 4: 10) Jesus is the Gift from God because 2000 years ago, He loved us so!
In a moment we will break bread together. We read that as Jesus celebrated the last supper, and the first communion, with his disciples, ‘Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’
This Advent, we remember why the Lord ‘gives’ so much to us – it is ‘because He Loved us so’!
Lord, for all your mercies this day, we give thanks, Amen.