google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2020 December

Archive for December 2020

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Christmas 2020

13. Nativity Sermon By Isaac the Syrian (613 – 700)

Today we continue our Christmas series with a Nativity Sermon By Isaac the Syrian.

This Christmas night bestowed peace on the whole world;
So let no one threaten;
This is the night of the Most Gentle One - Let no one be cruel;
This is the night of the Humble One - Let no one be proud.
Now is the day of joy - Let us not revenge;
Now is the day of Good Will - Let us not be mean.
In this Day of Peace - Let us not be conquered by anger.

Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;
So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.
Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;
So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.
This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;
Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.
Today the Divine Being took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,
In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of Divinity.

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Christmas 2020

12. A Christmas sermon of John Chrysostom (347 – 407

 

Today we continue our Christmas series with a Christmas sermon of John “Golden Mouth” Chrysostom

Behold a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Son of justice. Ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God.

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Christmas 2020

11. A Christmas Thought By Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – 390)

Today we continue our Christmas series with a Christmas Thought by Gregory of Nazianzus

Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him. Christ on earth, be exalted.

Sing to the Lord all the whole earth;

and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice,

and let the earth be glad, for Him who is of heaven and then of earth.

Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy;

with trembling because of your sins,

with joy because of your hope.

 

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Christmas 2020

10. A Gospel Harmony of the Christmas events

 

Today we continue our Christmas series with a full reading of the Christmas story from the Gospels. The 7 readings are from differing translations. Come on in!

John 1:1-18 / Luke 1:26-38 / Luke 1:39-56 / Matthew 1:19-24
Luke 2:1-7 / Luke 2:8-20 / Matthew 2:1-12

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Christmas 2020

9. The Visit of the Wise Men

 

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:
6 ‘“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (Matthew 2:1-12)

These men were travelling towards Christmas and probably for quite a long time, for it seems they originated in what we now call Iran but used to call Persia. These Wise Men, or as they are also known as Magi, who were sort of priestly group. They were men who studied the night skies for signs of what was going to happen. We would label them astrologers today, however they were much more than that. They were aware of ancient writings and promises that had been made long before they were born, and looked to see where and when they would be fulfilled. Those who visited Jesus had seen a clear sign that an ancient promise was shortly coming to pass. With these ideas in mind download and listen to the mp3 podcast.

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Christmas 2020

8. The Visit of the Shepherds

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’ 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:1-20)

Shepherds were not sophisticated middle-class people. They were down-to-earth, rugged, hard working men, who tended and took care of flocks of sheep, mostly belonging to rich people. Some of them had a special role in looking after the flocks that produced lambs for the Temple sacrifices at Jerusalem. It’s known that these were pastured on the fields surrounding Bethlehem, because of it was close to Jerusalem. With that in mind, consider the fact that Jesus was to become ‘The lamb of who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29) Isn’t that remarkable? Not only that, while Jerusalem was King David’s city, the town Bethlehem was his home town. That’s why Joseph had to travel to register there. With these ideas in mind download and listen to the mp3 podcast.

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Christmas 2020

7. The Birth of Jesus Christ

Merry Christmas to you and to your family and friends wherever you are in this world! This is Christ’s Mass. Christmas is about God sending ‘his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.’ ‘The Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.’ (1 John 4:9, 14). Christmas is about incarnation. We will look further at what that word means after some readings from the Bible.

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1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:1-7)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)

That Jesus was a human male is not really disputable with much archaeological and historical evidence about Him. There is more evidence for Jesus than there is for Julius Caesar. The birth of Jesus Christ is extraordinary at every level. When the man we know as Jesus Christ was born, his name imbued the very reason he was born. His conception and birth were extraordinary at every level. To find out more about this human we know as Jesus Christ and why he came, please do download or listen to the podcast to find out more!

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Christmas 2020

6. Mary’s betrothed - Joseph

 

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23 ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)

Mary was betrothed to a man we know as Joseph. We meet and learn about the man Joseph in both Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of the birth of Jesus. Joseph is the quiet man in the story. We do know that Joseph is a spiritual person who wished to live his life and make all his decisions in accordance with God’s will.

Jewish society at that time had an arrangement for approaching marriage called ‘betrothal’. It was a kind of engagement period, in which the prospective bride and groom lived under the same roof but did not consummate the relationship sexually. That was reserved for their wedding day. Mary was pledged in this way to be married to Joseph. It is likely that he was older than Mary, as there is no mention of him during Jesus’ adult ministry. It is something upon which, we can only speculate. The silence of Joseph is deafening.

Come on in and listen to the podcast to find out more about enigmatic Joseph and his role in the birth of Jesus Christ.

What does all this have to do with Christmas? Download or listen to the podcast to find out more!

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Christmas 2020

5. Why did Mary have to be a virgin?

34 ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’
35 The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (Matthew 1:34-35)

A good question to ask now, in relation to the story of Christmas, is why did Mary have to be a virgin? We know that Jesus, as a human does not have a father and that as the Son of God he had no mother. The Holy Spirit, through whom Mary conceived, is not just any spirit, but He is God Himself, whose act must be understood spiritually and not physically.

To find out the answer to the question before us, “Why did Mary have to be a Christian?” and what that has to do with Christmas, please do download or listen to the podcast! Come on in!

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Christmas 2020

4. The God of Mary

46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. (Luke 2:46-56)

 

Today, we are looking together closely at some specific aspects of God's very being, revealed through Mary in the Magnificat of Luke 2:46-56.

God is Almighty:  Mary knows that her God is called Almighty.  But how is God, Almighty? God being Almighty, can be summed up in 3 words: Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omniscience

God is holy: The biggest barrier that exists is the one which separates this Almighty God we heard from His creation. This barrier is God’s holiness, for God is a holy God.What is holiness and why does Mary attribute this to God?

 

What does all this have to do with Christmas? Download or listen to the podcast to find out more!

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