Welcome to Brooklands Digital Church on this Third 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 Luke 2:1-15 and Isaiah 61:1-4 and Isaiah 61:8-11.
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.
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The voice of God came to shepherds ‘residing in fields nearby, who were looking after their flocks of sheep during the night’.
It was essentially a church. This gathering of a few shepherds had all the hallmarks of a worship service. If you think about it, there was a small band of shepherds in fields nearby to Bethlehem. People were singing – okay, it was a choir of angels singing. There was also a message that was given.
The message was particularly good. First of all, it was short! But it was also riveting stuff. The people heard the voice of God speak to them! It was clear and easy to understand…
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 10-12)
Not only is this sermon material put succinctly, but it is also – very importantly – Christ-centred. Friends, a valid gospel message must always uplift Christ and call the listeners to follow Him.
And this is what we find – at the end of this impromptu ‘open-air service’, the shepherds immediately went off to find the Lord Jesus Christ and express their faith in him. There were even a few ‘Amens!’ from the angels.
There are many ways to hear the voice of God. We can come to a church service; you can be walking in some breathtaking natural habitat; you can even be reading or sitting merely thinking about life. I think I can say this of everyone listening to this Advent message just now – you probably all know what it is like to hear the voice of God!
If I may, two observations…
1. God’s Voice Silences all other Voices!
The Voice of God became the Jewish voice of an infant who in turn gave voice to a minority nation on the world stage. From this relatively small and insignificant nation in the Middle East 2000 years ago (where many other similar-sized nations have all but disappeared) one Voice from Israel has emerged as the Voice of the Lord God Almighty amongst us today!
In those early days, the sound made by that infant’s voice was very much like any other baby. It was sometimes crying; there were unintelligible sounds before the first distinct words would come.
This ‘Voice’ grew up with a Galilean accent. It was a ‘Voice’ that blended with many other young voices alongside him in Nazareth. But as we know, Jesus moved from being just a voice amongst many to be the Voice of God in human form. On one occasion, on a visit to the capital city, it was the Voice of wisdom beyond his years – as he spoke with elders in ‘My Father’s House’.
As Jesus began his three-year itinerant ministry, it became the Voice of authority, (Other voices commented that ‘no one ever spoke the way this man does’). It became the Voice of wisdom (as thousands gathered on hillsides to listen to his stories and their meaning). It was the Voice of Power (as he healed those with diseases and commanded the storms to ‘Be still!’).
Most surprisingly, it became the Voice of submission… not to evil or to selfishness, but to the will of the Father. He submitted to the cross and its hidden secret – a transaction, as it were, the good for the bad. The Voice became a cry of dereliction(‘My God, My God, why…’); the Voice of utter yet tender surrender (‘into your hands I commit my Spirit…’) There is even the cry of Victory! (‘It is Finished!’)
The Voice of Jesus is one that all must hear because…
2. God’s Voice Gives Life!
As in the voice of Creation (And God said, ‘Let there be Light!’) and there was light!
The Apostle Paul writes about this same ‘voice’ which he heard when travelling along a road – his personal experience on the day of his conversion:
“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:3–4)
What Paul ascribes to Jesus is a power so awesome that it can change a person into someone new.
Some months ago, I watched a programme on TV where a few aerospace hopefulswere set tests. Each one was asked to step up and down on a single step while listening to a series of numbers spoken. They then had to list the numbers in reversewhile focusing on stepping up and down. It didn’t appear to be a very difficult test for potential astronauts…
Surprisingly, no one got past seven numbers. It got me thinking about how God Almighty can do everything all at the same time and that over thousands of generations! It is mind-blowing. He can come to earth and appear in a fragile humanity yet hold control of all things.
Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above; With wisdom, power, and love – Our God is an awesome God!
The Lord God Almighty speaks with a Voice that gives life. What is just as remarkable, is that the voice of God as a child was a wonderful display of his humble nature. It was in the form of a human being that God in Christ re-created humankind from the tomb!
It was this Voice of life that spoke to Isaiah… We read about this intriguing reference in John 12: 41, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” (John 12:41)
Was this not a reference to his Vision of the Lord in the Temple, ‘high and lifted up’? Each Christmas we are reminded that the Voice of the Almighty, became a voice with incredible vulnerability.
From the Womb to the Tomb the Voice of Jesus speaks to the whole world. He calls everyone to Himself. He has earned the right to address our greatest fears, to grace us with his presence, and to bless us in our every effort.
The hymn writer drew our attention to this very aspect of God in the words,
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Behold, I freely give, the living water, thirsty one;
stoop down and drink and live.’
I came to Jesus, and I drank, of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.