Sunday 18 December 2016: Reflection – “Jesus” – God saves. “Emmanuel”- God with us.
Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
We’ve looked at three things today as we moved around the three stations in church. One we touched on last week – about the 65 million refugees in the world today – and that Jesus and his family also had to run away from their home country because it was dangerous. I hope you had a look at the world map to see where these people are from. That you pray for refugees and the persecuted church. And include them in your lives.
We were able to write prayers on an angel and hang them on the tree. For those refugees, their countries or persecuted Christians – and for our own needs and those of our loved ones and friends both here and around the world.
In the past we’ve had doves remembering people who are no longer with us or those who are far away. They’re still with us. I have them in a basket from last year.
This time we are hanging angels on the tree – because they are involved anyway – I mean real ones. Watching over our kids and grandchildren – actually the context of the “guardian” angel is that if someone hurts the little ones, their angels are going to tell God. They had close proximity to God. (Matthew 18:10 – “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.).
- Angels are also involved in watching over us adults and keeping us safe (Psalm 91:11 – For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;) And Psalm 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Joshua 5:14-15; Isaiah 63:9).
- And they are tied up in worship and honouring God (Isaiah 6:2-3 – Isa 6:2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. Isa 6:3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”)
- And they are involved in helping our prayers reach God (Daniel 10 is worth a read sometime).
The main thing is that we pray. We are to ask, seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). And agree in prayer (read Matthew 18:19 – agreeing about anything you ask for. Read verse 20 as well – it is well used and quoted).
And then last but not least the we placed little people at the cradle of baby Jesus. with our Christmas gift to Him written or drawn on them. Okay it’s not really baby Jesus. He’s on loan from Glamorgan school.
But the idea that we should be giving something to Jesus on his birthday is fair enough. Last year at our Pyjama service – the 6.00pm service on Christmas Eve – when I asked the children what they would like to give Jesus for his birthday, one girl very quickly suggested she would give Jesus her big sister. I’m sure you may have some relatives you would like to give to Jesus.
The thing is you can give them to Jesus – in prayer too. Every day we can hold them up to God and pray for His hope, peace, love and joy to flow over them and through them and into them. That God may watch over them and draw them to himself.
If you look at the reading from Matthew today, there are two things about Jesus that really do give us hope, peace, love and joy as we get closer to him.
Jesus or J’shua (modern Joshua) – means God saves or rescues us from our mess. Including our sins which separate us from God
Emmanuel – means God is with us in our mess. And in our joys and hopes. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.
Keep praying – keeping asking – keep trusting Jesus. Keep praying with eyes wide open to see what is happening around you. Pray for our lives, the lives of the refugees, the persecuted church, the poor, the wealthy, the lonely, the depressed, the frail and the suffering – all those who need Him! You’ll discover that we have a lot to be grateful for. We will be spending more time in prayers of thanksgiving I should think.