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Power of Christ December 20, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Isaiah 40:10-11

Advent 4

December 20, 2015

 

Focus:  God reveals His mighty power in the form of a Savior.

Function:  That the hearers find comfort and joy in the power of Christ.

Structure:  Pre-written Sermon Series, “Comfort and Joy” by Tim Klinkenberg, Drew Gerdes, and Michael Hoy via Creative Communications.

 

Power of Christ

 

The best ride in all of Southern California is not found in the Magic Kingdom of Disneyland, but at the airport in Santa Ana. Noise abatement procedures over Newport Beach make takeoffs thrilling. The pilot stops the plane at the edge of the runway and turns the engines up to 100%. The plane is filled up with power. It shakes and rattles as the engines are roaring to be released. Finally, when it feels like the plane is going shake apart, the pilot takes his foot off the brake and the plane is catapulted down the runway. The plane is like a rocket ship taking off for the moon. The raw power of the engines and the power of the airplane are on display for everybody.

In our text today Isaiah leads us to see the power of the Messiah. He writes, “Behold, the Lord God comes with might and His arm rules for Him; behold His reward is with Him. He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:10-11).”

Human understanding of power and God’s understanding of power are two different things. When humanity thinks of power, we may think of those jet engines and incredible outputs. We may think of power as political cunning, or strength of personality, or military power, or other types of attitudes or behaviors that put people under the will of another.

If that is the case, then the power of Christ is something to fear. Coming to the manger, we bring sin and its results. Our brokenness and weakness are on display. If God chose to use His power to destroy us, it would be appropriate. He could look at us with the power of an angry king who’s been ignored by His subjects. He could count up the intentional and willful acts of sedition, the multiple legal infractions, the treasonous gatherings and all the evasion of responsibility. If God chose to use His power to destroy us, He would have reason to do that and His drawing near would be terrifying.

Isaiah leads us to a different power. Power that is masked in human weakness and love for people is what Isaiah is writing about. Babies aren’t powerful, yet the birth of this Boy in Bethlehem was heralded by angels. Itinerant preachers aren’t powerful, but at His baptism this Man was acclaimed as the Son of God. People at their weakest moment are not filled with power, but this Man, when physically destroyed, brought redemption from the cross for all mankind.  God cloaks His power in weakness and makes the weak strong.

The good news of Christmas is that the power of God is for us. Jesus comes humbly and gently, but with power. He forgives our sins through the power of the cross. He puts that grace on us through the power of our baptism. He feeds us and our family of faith in the powerful meal of Communion. Hidden away in a Man, in some water, some wine and some bread. God’s power, made clear through humble means, sustains us in our faith and life.

Part of the joy of Christmas is the deception and the hiding of gifts. Children dig through closets, trunks, and garages to find hiding places. Parents go to extreme measures to ensure that the gifts remain a surprise. So parents’ll put a small gift in a large box. They’ll put a square gift in a round box. They wrap an expensive gift with plain paper. The amount of deception to keep the surprise can be phenomenal, but so is the joy.

When the gift is revealed and the surprise is over, the joy is real.

God wraps up the power of redemption in the baby Jesus. He is wrapped up in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Yet, He is without a doubt the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. The simple outward wrapping belies the power of the gift that goes with us into the new year. God delivers His power in humility. He wraps power up in gentleness.

Many of us grew up with the image of the Good Shepherd. We hear the words “The Lord is my shepherd…” and something deep in the soul finds peace. We love the visual; we love the closeness and the intimacy of these words. Isaiah wrote, “He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.”

Some of us will unwrap difficult things in the coming year. Some of our families will deal with loss and illness. Others will deal with anxieties over money and the economy. Still others will deal with hurts that are so unique to them that only someone who knows them better than they know themselves can comfort them. Through these moments our Good Shepherd tends to us as a shepherd, gathers us in His arms and carries us in His bosom. He is the voice of comfort and the voice of peace. His power is for us in His gentleness.

Many of us will unwrap joyful celebrations in the new year. For some it will be significant anniversaries. For others there’ll be graduations, baptisms, confirmations, vacations, holidays with family and on and on. We smile to even think about the joy of these gatherings. We look at those milestones and give thanks to our Good Shepherd who tended, gathered, and carried us. He shepherds us with power wrapped in grace.

Next stop: Christmas, and we are blessed. In Christ we receive God’s peace, His pardon, His presence, and His power. There for us in the year almost done, waiting for us as a new year dawns, and revealed to us this Christmas in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

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