This is the first time I am writing a reflection on a sermon that I didn’t preach! I invited Dan Keenan to preach for the first Sunday of Advent. No, I wasn’t on vacation. No, I wasn’t sick. No, I’m not just lazy and didn’t want to prepare a sermon – preaching is one of my favorite things I get to do as a pastor! And no, I did not take the week off. Not preaching this past Sunday allowed me to look forward to January and February to work on a sermon series that I am planning for then. It also allowed me more time to meet with people which is always wonderful.
So why did I ask Dan to preach? Because I have heard that he is a gifted preacher and he has become part of our church. Ephesians 4:11-13 says that it is the job of church leaders to prepare others for service because this makes the church stronger, more unified, more mature, and more like Christ. It is one of my greatest goals as a pastor to help people identify ways that God has gifted them and then train them, encourage them, and allow them to use those gifts in the church because this makes the church more about Christ and less about me. Ok, enough about why I asked Dan to preach and on to the sermon!
We looked primarily at Micah 5:2 – “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Dan took us on a whirlwind tour of the many Old Testament prophecies about the birth of the Messiah. We looked at the fact of the Messiah being born of a virgin. We also looked at the idea of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem. It was so interesting to hear all the places in the Old Testament where Bethlehem is mentioned and the amazing things that God did in this town. We also looked at the fact that the messiah was to be a descendant of King David and therefore would have the right to rule on his throne. We looked at the fact that both Joseph and Mary come from the lineage of David so that this prophecy was fulfilled in either case. Dan painted a rich picture for us of all of the ways that God told his people about the coming Messiah and all the ways that prove that Jesus is truly the Messiah. The weight of the evidence from Scripture really is overwhelming. Jesus is the Messiah, Emmanuel (God with us), sent to save us from our sins and to reign forever.
One of the things Dan said really challenged me. If we accept that the prophecies about Jesus being the Messiah are true (and, again, the weight of evidence is extremely strong) then we must also except the prophecies concerning the fact that Jesus is coming again. In the Old Testament, the people were to be defined by their hope in the coming Messiah. Today we should still be defined by this hope. In fact, our trust should be even stronger because we know what Jesus has already done by dying on the cross for our sins!
Thanks, Dan, for a job well done and for this powerful reminder!
photo by Flickr user cmbellman