Roger's Postings

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Matthew 2:13-23.         Prophecies fulfilled in the face of adversity!      29/12/13

 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

 What a reassurance we have in the knowledge that Christmas continues on in the life of our world even today; even days after our Christmas celebrations have ceased. In fact, now perhaps Christmas might have a greater impact in our lives, than it did on Christmas day. On Wednesday many were too focussed on the family; dinner, presents and travelling. Unfortunately, for far too many, there was not even time for going to God’s house to worship God for this event of such great importance for our lives. It would seem that many had far more important things in mind: at least greater distractions.

 So now perhaps there is time to contemplate this Wonder that is so important for our lives each and every day. Yes Christmas surely is vital for each and every day of our existence. For Christmas is all about God coming into our miserable world to give us life and hope; even more than that to save us from our stupid selves. He is still here for us in the midst of the mess of life to assure us of life and salvation. He is still the best thing that we have ever received in our lives; worthy of our total allegiance.

 In our reading here today we are reminded that God’s word and presence is fulfilled in the face of the tragedies of life. It impacts both positively and negatively in our day to day world. Where Christ is, there is not just peace, joy and blessings, but also opposition and rejection, hatred and murder. 

 In this reading this comes out quite clearly. King Herod was going to ensure that nothing and no one, including a little baby, was going to come between him and his ultimate rule. So what if a whole generation of boys has to be destroyed in order for him to maintain power? So what if tens of thousands of babies are aborted each year so that we can maintain our freedoms and easy lifestyle. What God says and promises does not and cannot be allowed to come between us and what we want from life. Rejection of God brings tragic results.

 So Christ becomes a refugee, having to flee from his own country so that he is not killed. But even this still does not stop ‘God with us’ from continuing and accomplishing what God has in mind. In fact it only fulfils even more prophecies so that it can be even more clearly seen that Christ is so important for our lives.  In the face of the tragedies and horrors perpetuated by a sinful selfish humanity there is now a sure and certain hope.

 Today also unfortunately Christ has to flee from many a heart that is in open rebellion against him. It would also seem that he has in many ways fled from our country as it has sought to push him completely out of our society. This rebellion has brought untold tragedies into our country, on scale far exceeding what Herod did with regard to those little children.

 So this reading here, so soon after Christmas, places Christ and his importance right into the ongoing heartache of life in a sinful  world. His significance and importance is not lessened by the horrors of life. In fact it makes it even more critical and even more uplifting: For here we are reassured that this is really what he came into our world for: to give us a real hope in the midst of the mess that we make of life for ourselves.

 The message here today is that even if he has withdrawn somewhat from our society, he is still ‘God with us’ to be of help and salvation to all who do not reject him. ‘Christ with us,’ is still the important message for us as we live out our lives every day. No matter who we are or how much we have turned our back on him, he is still seeking to be of help, hope and salvation for us.

 As a result we now know that even the murder of children is not the end of the story. No matter how terrible things are there is hope; there is something better; All is not hopeless and futile.  God’s word and his promises: Christ and his coming can and does make a huge difference.

 This Jesus that came to us at Christmas, maybe did not get much of a look in this last week and maybe has even had to flee for a while. But the message here today is that he did return to do what he had to do in order for salvation to be won for us. He was still true to his word and he fulfilled the prophecies made about him and what he had come to do. He did die on the cross, taking the punishment that we deserve on himself; so that we might be forgiven and assured of eternal life with God in heaven.  All who do not turn their backs on him and reject him and what he has won for us, will receive this wondrous gift.

 So Christmas continues on for us. This gift may have been left untouched and not considered, but it is still there for all. The desire for earthly gifts and pleasant family gatherings may have swamped our consideration of Jesus Christ, but he is still with us to help us when the ‘batteries go flat’. The tragedies of a sinful life may still be haunting us deeply, but Christ returns again to forgive us even when we are still mourning our loss. He is still here for us in the midst of worst tragedies imaginable, ready to give us the freedom and hope that we need.

 For all of us each and every day of the rest of our life can be Christmas. We can have peace, hope and joy in abundance every day, no matter what is happening around us. As we recognise that Christ is with us, even though many are seeking to kill him and remove him completely from existence in this country. He is still with us to give us the full assurance that he is true to his Word: he has fulfilled the prophecies  made with regard to him being the saviour of the world.

 This Jesus lived on this earth and performed miracle after miracle so that we can be sure that here in Jesus God himself was at work in our world. He came to be with us and remind us that God is concerned about us and our welfare even though we have failed to live and be the people that he created us to be. He told us quite clearly that we are unable to in any way make up for our rebellion, but that he himself has come to ensure our salvation. That is why he went to the cross and died in our place, so that God would punish him instead of us, and that in turn we might be forgiven.

 Then he rose again three days later just as he said would happen so that we can be absolutely sure that he is for real; and that all who are connected to him will also be raised again on the last day. Through him forgiveness of sin, life and salvation is now there for all who wish to avail themselves of it.

 What a wonderful gift this is for us as we now live out our lives every day. Surely now each day we will want to be reminded of this great thing that has been given to us so that we can live with hope, confidence and certainty in the midst of a world that is constantly seeking to bring death on itself instead of receiving the gift of life that is now available to us.

 So each day let us ponder over and appreciate this great gift that has been given to us. Sunday after Sunday let us gather together here in his house, so  that he can continually remind us of all that he wants us to know so that we can stand firm and confident in the face of all the adversity that comes our way. Let us receive from him what he has to give us so that we can be forever sure that we are forgiven, accepted and have God with us each and every day of our lives.

 Yes, let the real Christmas go on each day of your life, and may God’s Spirit then embolden us live with joy and certainty, ever looking to and giving thanks to Jesus Christ for all that he has done for us. To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish.


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