Sermon – November 30, 2014

Christmas SpiritThe Spirit of Gladness“, by Rev. Mike Holly

Sermon Series: The Christmas Spirit

It was the days of King Herod of Judea. That one detail tells Luke’s readers a lot. Israel had waited and waited for God to send the promised Messiah. It had been hundreds of years and during that time, Israel had found herself under the control of foreign powers. Currently, they were under the control of the Roman Empire and Herod was the vassal king who was expected to look out for Roman interests. A Jewish convert, Herod did build the Temple in Jerusalem. However, he was not seen as a friend to the people.

To many in Judea, it may have seen hopeless. Elizabeth’s barrenness might have even been seen as a metaphor by Luke’s readers to the seemingly hopeless situation of God’s people. The angel appears (in Herod’s Temple no less) to grant the good news that god’s people and Elizabeth herself are both no longer barren. Elizabeth will have her child and he will prepare the way for God’s long-awaited response: a Messiah.

The angel promised that Zechariah and Elizabeth will have joy and gladness with the gift of John. The Christmas Spirit, according to the Church, begins with gladness. We are thankful, happy and content because God remembers us and is faithful to his promises.

~Mike Holly

The Word

Luke 1:5-20

ln the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

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