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Hope is Here (2)

The Hope We've Waited For  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Joseph and Mary’s obedience opened the door for hope to be realised thousands of years later in our own lives.

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Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew 1:18–25 NLT
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ ” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Introduction (5m)

When does Christmas start for you?

First Christmas advert - Coca Cola.
First Christmas card received.
When decorations go up.
When Christmas lights are switched on.
When you hear SA Band playing carols.
When the family arrive.
When Carols from Kings comes on TV.
When you smell turkey wafting through house.
When you open your first gift.

Many of us have a moment when Christmas starts.

For God, Christmas doesn’t start until you take your place in his story

The story of Christmas is that you are loved. That God isn’t remote, unfeeling, set apart from us. He is here. He has moved into the neighbourhood. He has made his home with us.

Whatever your story, God wants you to be a part of his story.

Explanation (5m)

Matthew gives us two names by which Jesus is known

Immanuel - God with us

Mind-blowing. In the Old Testament, God’s people had such an exalted conception of God that they would not say his name - Yahweh - and would not make an image of him. So much so, that the Romans called them atheists - people without gods.

Now Matthew tells us we don’t need to make an image of God because he has come to us in his image - in the human being, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is no mere teacher. He is God with us.
He came to invite us to find a part in God’s story by becoming a part of humanity’s story.
Came to tell us God is present. He is here, now, with us. He doesn’t intervene from a distance, he is always active among us.
We can have a personal relationship with God. We can find meaning and purpose in our lives by experiencing God with us day by day and taking our place in his story.

If Immanuel tells us who Jesus is, then the name Jesus tells us what he will do

God’s people knew they needed a Saviour.

The angel who spoke to Joseph in dream recalls the dark moments when God’s people were captured and exiled.

God’s story is of his promise to save his people from their sins and to bring them home.

Sin is simply the choice to help ourselves rather than let God help us.

We endeavour to help ourselves by acquiring money, by addiction to work, by trying to go it alone, by shopping and acquiring more stuff, and through unhealthy habits.

The ways in which we try to save ourselves never quite live up to our expectations.

We continue to have an emptiness within us that we fail to fill.

We cannot save ourselves, however much a good life we try to lead.

We cannot bridge the gap between humanity and God. Only Jesus could do that.

He came to earth as a tiny baby, grew to teach and show us how to live as God intended humans to live and to die on the cross for our sins.

If we allow him to take control of our lives then we can take our place in God’s story.

Application (5m)

Do we really need a Saviour?

What does this mean for us today? Do we need Immanuel, God with us? Do we really need Jesus - the Lord saves?
If you have ever asked yourself, am I truly happy? If you feel unfilled and unfulfilled in life, then you need a Saviour and you need to take your place in God’s story.
Maybe you’ve never asked those questions. Maybe life for you is good, and you are happy and contented. Perhaps you believe you have all you need and you lived life without God’s help. But if you ever dig deeper and ask, why was I created? What is my purpose in life? What will happen at the end of my life? Then you too need a Saviour and need to take your place in God’s story.

Jesus helps us see who God is and our place in his story

This is the God who doesn’t wait for us to come to him, but seeks us out to be a part of his story.

This is Jesus who still comes to us when everything seems hopeless.

This is Jesus who offers each one us new and startling ways forward.
This is Jesus who offers us powerful love and grace if we take our place in his story.

This is God’s story. This is your story.

God is here. He is not out there. He is here. He is near you just now, not far away. Christmas is coming, and around the manger there is room for you and for me.

Will you take your place?

Will you take your place in God’s story? Will these next few moments be when Christmas begins for you and God?
I invite you forward as we sing our response. Come and take your place here, around the manger.

As God makes room for you in his story and in his heart, will you make room for him?

As you come to take your place, sing this prayer with me: O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.

Next Steps

CC 95 Thou didst leave thy throne

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown When thou camest to earth for me; But in Bethlehem?s home was there found no room For thy holy nativity. O come to my heart, Lord Jesus; There is room in my heart for thee. 2 Heaven?s arches rang when the angels sang, Proclaiming thy royal degree; But of lowly birth cam?st thou, Lord, on earth And in great humility. 3 Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word That should set thy people free; But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn, They bore thee to Calvary. 4 When Heaven?s arches ring, and her choirs shall sing, At thy coming to victory, Let thy voice call me Home, saying: Yet there is room, There is room at my side for thee! And my heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus, When thou comest and callest for me. Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (1836-1897) Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 135015 Copied from The Song Book of The Salvation Army Song Number 153
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