Advent 2019: Rediscovering Christmas: First Sunday: The newness of Christmas-12/01/19

The NEWNESS of Christmas Mark 1:1-11

Introduction: Best wishes for an

environmentally conscious,
socially responsible, low stress,
non-addictive, gender-neutral,
winter solstice holiday,
practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice,
but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion
as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all. (Chris Jordan)

How’s that for a politically correct holiday greeting? Yea, I’m not buying into it either.

Although Im not quite ready:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go!
Including here at CBC!  A great big thank you to all who helped decorate the Fellowship Hall last Sunday and our Worship Center yesterday.

Well, Thanksgiving is over, black Friday with its long lines are gone too.

They’ve been replaced by the beautiful decorations of this wonderful season of the year.AND for me, in many ways, Christmas is:

The most wonderful time of the year.

PP: (4 slides) Regardless of how you feel about the commercialization of Christmas, it’s still a joy to see Christmas at its practical best… whether it’s in stores, homes, on the streets or houses, the decorations warm the heart and in a small way, make us feel good.

Yes, this is the season to make the change from the everyday to the special… from the mundane to the beautiful.

PP: It’s the season for something… new.

New… we are irresistibly drawn to almost everything…new:

New cars (with their new car smell), new clothes, new electronics, new toys for the kids (even though some assembly may be required)

Hand me downs, used, vintage and previously owned rarely get the same excitement as NEW!

PP: Well, except for a 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 fastback with spoiler and rear window sport slats.

PP: Next Slide

Advent is the time we get to remember God’s miracle in sending Jesus, and to rediscover the newness of Christmas.

The newness of Christmas has its foundation in the new life and new relationships we have because of the Incarnation, Immanuel: God with us, all found in Jesus.

In Revelation 21:5 Jesus says:

PP: Behold, I am making all things new. Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. (Revelation 21:5)

I know, you’re thinking that’s in the future. But wait.. there’s more!

PP: You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it? From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known. (Isaiah 48:6)

From the OT to the Book of Revelation, God has, is and will continue… to do new things.

Isaiah reminds us that that its not only our job to recognize the new things Hes doing,
but to declare it, to tell others.

And listen, that’s at the heart of the Christmas message.

Telling others that no matter where you are, no matter what’s happening in your life right now,
Theres newness of life this Christmas for those who place their faith in Jesus.

PP: I’ve titled our Advent Sermon Series ‘Rediscovering Christmas.This morning we’ll be looking at ‘The newness of Christmas.’

God offers us new life, a new relationship with Him because of a new experience of forgiveness.

Rediscovering the Christmas miracle of the new, is one way we can prepare for the coming of the Lord, as we’ll discover in Mark’s Gospel this morning.

Transition: So, open your Bibles to Mark 1:1 where we’ll rediscover the newness of Christmas.

Mark 1:1-11  God is doing a new thing

PP: (3 slides) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send My messenger before your face, who will prepare Your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight,’ ” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes He who is mightier than I, the strap of Whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.”

PP: Next Slide

Matthew and Luke’s Gospel have a record of the Christmas story. They present Jesus as the baby born in a manger who will save His people from their sin.

John’s Gospel starts earlier in eternity past, with Jesus as one with God the Father, and as the Son, who came to save people from the darkness of their sin.

At first glance, it would appear that Mark’s Gospel does not begin with the Christmas story:

There’s no Mary and Joseph, no manger, no virgin birth, no shepherds in the field, no angels singing.
There’s just John the Baptist and he’s baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River.

But, that’s not where Mark’s Gospel actually begins. It begins with a prophecy from both Malachi and Isaiah.

Malachi is the last OT prophets and the OT ends with the promise of God sending a messenger, Elijah, to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.
Mark picks up his Gospel where Malachi left off over 400 years earlier to show the continuity between the OT an NT.

John the Baptist is the one both Isaiah and Malachi talk about, who will come to prepare the way of Israel’s Messiah and the Savior of the world.

What Mark’s Gospel records is the Christmas story from the viewpoint of the two OT prophecies.

God is NOW doing a new thing. Mark opens with the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. What’s the new thing God is doing?

It’s the Good News of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension.
It’s the Good News of the God-Man, the Messiah, the Savior, come to earth.

The newness of Christmas, for Mark, begins with  Jesus’ baptism. But more on that in a few

John was prophesized to be the one who would bring the message of the start, the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

His job was to tell people about the coming of the

Messiah and to get them to rediscover the newness of a relationship with God by recognizing their sin and seeking God’s forgiveness.

He did that two ways; by baptizing and preaching.

PP: John baptized people with water when they came to grips with their sin and their need to be forgiven by God.
PP: John preached about the nature and ministry of the Messiah. That He would be greater than John and that He will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

So, John did as he was called by God to do…

Preparing the way of the Lord by getting people to rediscover the newness of a relationship with God
by recognizing their sin and seeking God’s forgiveness.

PP: Jesus comes upon the scene and is baptized by John.

As He came up from the water, the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descendsupon Jesus like a dove.
Then a voice came from heaven, it was the voice of God the Farther who declared: You are My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.

By being baptized like everyone else, Jesus aligns Himself with the sinful humanity He came to save.

This is God doing a new thing:

The God of all creation, came in human form,
to identify with the plight of sinful humanity,
so that He could one day die to forgive their sin.

Not the death of an animal on the altar of fire, but the death of the only Son of God on the altar of the cross.

God is doing a new thing.

And listen… don’t miss this part.

As Jesus was doing a new thing… beginning His ministry as the Messiah and Savior, God the Father encourages Jesus with the words You are My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.

So listen, follow me on this:

Jesus came to do something new: give us a relationship with the Father through the forgiveness of sin… by taking on, Himself, our sin.
Jesus was obedient to the call of the Father to participate in the new thing God was doing.
And as Jesus began His ministry to do that new thing, God told Jesus that He was very pleased with Him.

Here’s something to chew on this week.

Until the Christmas story in Mark’s Gospel takes place,
until Jesus does the new thing and starts His ministry to seek and to save the lost,
the Christmas stories in Matthew and Luke have no real meaning.

PP: Conclusion: God is still doing a new thing

So, what does all this mean for you today? In a nut shell,

When we, though obedience,rediscover the newness of Christmas (the new thing God has done through Jesus)
God will also say to us You are My beloved son/daughterwith whom I am well pleased.

Listen, that’s what every Israelite wanted to hear from God… that their life had pleased God,

That they were accepted, loved and in a covenant relationship with the One True and Ever living God.

And folks, deep down inside your heart, that’s what you want to hear from God too.

__________ you are My son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.

_________ you are My daughter, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.

_________ you are My son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.

_________ you are My daughter, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.

Truth is,

Whether it’s during the chaotic rush of getting ready for Christmas with all the gifts, decorations and meals with family and friends.
Or it’s during the chaotic rush that is every day life with work, school, kids, church and recreational activities.

We still desperately need to hear you are My daughter, My son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.

And we can hear that when we rediscover the newness of Christmas, during Advent and every day of the year.

What is it that we need to rediscover that’s new for us today and tomorrow?

We can have a new beginning through faith in Jesus.
We can have a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
We can have a new life of continual and permanent forgiveness of sin, through faith in Jesus.
We have a new source of strength to face life’s struggles, through faith in Jesus.
We experience daily God’s grace and mercy when we fail Him, through faith in Jesus.
We have a new heart to love God above all else, through faith in Jesus.

PP: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

When that happens friends,

Hardened hearts are softened.
Old wounds are healed.
Bitterness is replaced with joy.
Brokenness is restored.
Loneliness gives way to belonging.
Pride is replaced with humility.
Sin finds forgiveness.
Death is given over to life.

If you want to be done with the old… then rediscover the newness of Christmas… in Jesus!

PP: Next Slide