John: 1:1-5 NIV, 1646
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.
John 1:14 NIV, 1647
Luke 4:18-19 NIV, 1598
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
- Start with the story about the biker on page 98 of the book.
- For the past several weeks we have been working with the theme of “What is the Least I Can Believe and still be a Christian”. We have been exploring the core beliefs of our Christian faith and they all revolve around Jesus.
- Last week, we looked at God’s grace
—– that reality of our being loved by God with a love ever more unbounded
that we could possibly ask for or even imagine. God loves us unconditionally
and seeks to draw us closer to God and living a life that is bound tightly with
- We understand that God’s grace, it is something we Christians hold as central to the life of faith.
- What’s truly unique, though, to Christianity
is our belief in the incarnation—that in the person of Jesus Christ, somehow God’s
self became truly human, became one of us.
- God took on our human flesh and lived our human experience.
- That’s our uniquely Christian confession about Jesus.
- Our morning Scripture from the Gospel of John, points to the belief that: 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. 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.
- Throughout the Bible, Scripture makes
it abundantly clear that God is present in the world and also very active in
- From Adam and Eve in the garden, God was at work
- Through Abraham and Sarah, God was at work.
- God was at work through Moses to set the people of Israel free from oppressive slavery.
- God worked through David to establish the nation of Israel.
- God challenged the Israelites to “let justice roll down like waters”
- When God wanted to do God’s most important work ever, God did so through a young woman named Mary, who gave birth to Jesus — “and the word became flesh.” — and this is called “incarnation! — God coming in human form – and is the THEME OF CHRISTMAS not Santa Claus.
- Incarnation is the core belief of a
Christian — God in human form.
- And it is simply this: as people who believe in incarnation, who see incarnation in the person of Jesus, we Christians understand fundamentally that God works in the world through human flesh.
- God’s coming to us in Jesus, in the flesh and blood of a real human being, it means that God does not shun embodiment or the created order or even human flesh itself.
- Our faith further grows as we believe that the Holy Spirit hovers over us – guiding us, helping us and influencing us.
- In fact, it shows us the rather universal reality that much—if not most—of the time God is at work in the world through human interactions as guided by the Spirit.
- Some of you probably saw the movie
Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks.
- That film—retells the true story of a NASA flight to the moon in the spring of 1970.
- Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you may know that just about everything that could go wrong in that space mission does—an explosion that cripples a whole section of the spacecraft and leaves insufficient supplies (like oxygen and water) left in the sections that are still working.
- Prospects look bleak, and as time goes on, the chances for a safe return seem to be slipping away. In response to that grave situation, millions of people around the world fervently prayed to God for their safe return.
- The pope even celebrated a special mass on their behalf.
- In the end, God answers all the
prayers, and does so positively.
- Against all odds, the crew of Apollo 13 survives.
- However, God does not save the crew in a direct, supernatural way.
- Instead, God saves them through human interactions.
- God uses the wisdom, skills, and persistence of dedicated NASA engineers, and scientists from the University of Toronto, and other caring, gifted, competent, individuals to get them safely home.
- The truth is, we see and know God working through human capabilities, through the flesh and blood of those around us, and even through our own hands—we see and know it all the time.
- When Jesus first embarked upon his public ministry, Jesus went into his home synagogue in Nazareth and read the words from the book of Isaiah as repeated in Luke: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
- to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
- Jesus spent the next three years living out the text, but he did not do the work alone: he recruited others to help him carry out the mission. The disciples recruited more people and gradually the church grew over two thousand years.
- The church is the body of Christ – the hands and arms of Jesus – the feet and heart of Jesus.
- Our task is to carry on the mission of Jesus — part of God’s incarnational work in the world.
- I watch the Pleasant Grove congregation
and see God at work:
- We can raise up prayer warriors with just three phone calls. If a person or friend is having a health problem – the care and attention is readily available from our congregation: God is at work.
- Every two months casseroles are prepared by the UMW for feeding the homeless. God is at work.
- Dresses are handcrafted for the children in Haiti and delivered with love and care. God is at work.
- There comes a time when homes need some basic repairing and the team comes forward. God is at work!
- When a person is in need, PGUMC comes forward with food or money or even a burial lot for a funeral. God is at work!
- When PGUMC boldly looks to the future to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, God is at work!
- This same dynamic is at work
throughout the world.
- When people fight for justice on behalf of the oppressed and serve as advocates for the poor, God is at work!
- When leaders seek peace instead of war, God is at work!
- When the hungry are fed and clothed and visited in prison, God is at work!
- When the Gospel is shared all over the world, God is at work!
- God is at work!
- Video – “Who Will Be Jesus?” – by Bruce Carroll
- God’s work, human hands. Are there other ways God works among us or other ways God works in the world? Probably. But I dare say that we are far from exhausting the possibility, the potential, or the promise of this one!
- Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto God, now and forever.
- Thanks be to God!