Midweek Advent Reflection Week Two: The Wise Men

"...the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh Matthew 2:9-11 (NIV)
“…the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh Matthew 2:9-11 (NIV)

Living A Life of Faithfulness

Communion Meditation for December 4, 2016

To be a disciple of Jesus is to live a life of faithfulness to Christ throughout and in all the seasons of life – birth, growing up, embracing/empowering, launching, celebrating, grieving, and moving on.

Mary, Jesus’ mother, is one example of this faithfulness.

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The scripture passages which have been read this morning  (Matthew 1:18-24, Matthew 2:9-23, Luke 2:22-52, Matthew 12:46-50,  and John 19:23-27), I believe reflect Mary’s faithfulness, even when she stood in front of the cross where Jesus hung and watched Him die, even when Jesus responded in what could be called a cruel manner to the statement, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you,” with the question “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” and pointed instead to the disciples.

Mary’s faithfulness is established, I think, in her response to the angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would give birth to Jesus Christ. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Now what does faithfulness have to do with advent, Christmas, and communion?

Everything.

There is a passage in Acts in which Mary is mentioned, I believe, for the last time in the Bible and her faithfulness is shining through:

It is found in Acts 1 starting with verse 1:

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach  until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.  After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Our last glimpse of Mary is of her joining with the remaining disciples and her sons in prayer as they do what Jesus said to do “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”

Down through the years, the decades, Mary was faithful, as a mother, and as a disciple (and not just a follower) but a disciple of Jesus, her son, the Son of God.

To be faithful, one of the fruit of the spirit I might add, is to be reliable and trustworthy; steadfast in affection or allegiance.

That was Mary…

And we are called as disciples to be faithful followers…

I would have loved to have been in that room with her and the others as they waited on the coming of the Holy Spirit. What was going through her mind in those days? What was she thinking as she watched Jesus ascend into heaven?

As she faced her final days here on earth, what did she look back on with joy?

Mary lived in the ordinary ways and places of life. Yes, she was party to a great miracle and purpose – that of Jesus’ birth and raising Him as a child. But we do not read of Mary doing big things, spectacular things, (though giving birth to Jesus was a spectacular thing).

She was, by all biblical accounts, just another mother. But faithfulness was woven through her motherhood.

So in the life of Mary, we see the mark of faithfulness. I believe that Jesus was pleased with that. Jesus is pleased with our faithfulness.

And faithfulness is not a behavior though it manifests itself in our behavior. Faithfulness is also an attitude, a character quality, a commitment.

To review my question of a few moments ago, “Now what does faithfulness have to do with advent, Christmas, and communion?” It has everything to do with advent, Christmas, and communion.

The advent story is about God’s faithfulness to Israel which Simeon referred in the Luke 2 passage read earlier in the service.

The Christmas story is about God coming to earth in human form as Jesus and in the proclamation of the angel to Joseph regarding the coming of Jesus the angel also said, noted by Matthew in his gospel account, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.” And the saving of our sins, is what we remember and give thanks for as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper or communion today

God’s faithfulness to us, is expressed here…in coming to earth, dying on the cross, and then rising from the dead!

Two verses of scripture came to mind as I thought about God’s faithfulness to us:

The first verse is Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Love and faithfulness go together. We are faithful to what we love and if we love Christ then we need to be faithful to Him as well. Throughout the Bible we read of humanity’s unfaithfulness BUT God’s faithfulness.

The second verse is 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Participating in the Lord’s Supper is a call to remembrance of Christ’s love for us and faithfulness to His plans and purpose here on earth for our salvation for as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11

“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

What is it that we are to remember?

Christ’s love

Christ’s sacrifice

Christ’s salvation

Christ’s faithfulness

Amen

 

Let us give thanks to the Lord as we prepare our hearts for communion.