Dear SanLo Community, an update for the week of December 17, 2017…
Thank you Pastor Rod for the message from Luke 1:26-35, “Foretold Threefold.” Commercial aviation begins each flight with instructions that are important to know in case of an emergency but often we tune out because we have heard it before. This familiar portion of scripture gives a threefold announcement of the birth of Jesus. The announcement to Zacharias, father of John, about the forerunner of Jesus. Then the announcement to Mary who will bear Jesus and then to Joseph in a dream (Matthew 1). Throughout this book, there is joy and praise to God for our Savior, the Messiah. There are many examples of the power of God in the birth of Christ and it begs the question: What are we reminded of at Christmas?
We Are No Longer Alone. (vv.26-28) 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth. Here the sixth month refers to Mary’s cousin Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy. The angel Gabriel had gone to tell Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias, and now goes to Nazareth. Why not go to Rome or Jerusalem? God chooses Nazareth, which is more a village than a city, away from the trade routes, insignificant and humble, which is more appropriate for Jesus. 27 a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. Mary was engaged, meaning they are pledged/betrothed, which is a promise before witnesses. There is no banquet and they are not living together but waiting for their formal wedding. Engaged to Joseph – he is in the royal line of King David. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” This was a familiar greeting given to a friend, family, or neighbor, but to Mary, he calls her favored one – meaning full of grace. This does not mean Mary was sinless at conception, not sinless after birth, but grace which she received from God, not grace which she possessed. The Lord is with you – talking about His help. God shows us favor through His Son.
We Are No Longer Afraid. (vv.29-33) 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. Mary was puzzled, troubled and startled – who would not be after an encounter like this? 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. This term, Do not be afraid/do not fear, occurs about 150 times in the Bible. This addressed her fear with a word of encouragement, an expression of God’s favor. We have many fears but when tragedies come, there is an eternal perspective we can give priority and perspective which helps us with our fears. Again, favor with God – there is a sense of sweetness, charm, loveliness, joy, delight, grace, kindness as God shows us favor through His Son and He announces to Mary, 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. God actually names Jesus. you shall name Him Jesus. (Matthew) - call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus has a purpose, a calling, a task – to be our Savior. We do not have to be afraid because we know our true home, destiny and destination when we put our faith in Jesus. Gabriel expands upon Jesus’ uniqueness and divinity, how never before, never again, there will be no other than Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; Great here is used not comparative as in greater or greatest. Son of the Most High – is a clear reference to the Messiah of the Old Testament prophecies. and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. David – recall that Joseph is in the royal line. Throne…reign…kingdom – His rule is not earthly, not political, but with grace and truth. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end – this goes beyond Israel, but to spiritual Israel, to those of faith. God shows us favor through His Son.
We Are No Longer Ashamed. (vv.34-35) 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary is confused but does not disbelieve. The reality of her situation impacted her with the reality of who she was, a young woman, who led a simple life in humility, wondering who she was as a sinner and yet being called to be the mother of Jesus. 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. The Holy Spirit will come upon you – this is a Divine interaction, not a human conception. It is not like mythology where their gods joined with women to create demi-gods. and the power of the Most High will overshadow you – this emphasizes the Holy, powerful presence of God as was the cloud covering the tabernacle as Israel wandered through the wilderness and the tent was filled with His glory. Son of God – not the son of Joseph. God shows favor through His Son.
God has a way of taking the common to become powerful. On the surface, Jesus was a humble, carpenter’s son, to become Almighty God. This Christmas we can remember we are no longer alone, afraid or ashamed, and call upon His Name.
Thank you to Ray & Judy Ogata with Eiichi & Marion Nakamura in the first service, Aileen Luo, Mike Wong, Robbie LaDuca and Nathan Masuda in the second service for reading the scripture and story for the 3rd week of Advent.
12/24 both services A continental breakfast will be offered before both services
12/24 5:00pm Evening Praise and Worship – Candlelight Service
12/31 12:15pm One Worship Service followed by a Joint Fellowship Hour (SL and SLZ setup and cleanup)
1/1/2018 11:00am Bilingual New Year Service (Pastor Sunao Shimada)
1/6 8:30am Mission Prayer
1/7 both services Commissioning of Winter Vision workers
1/12 5:30pm Little House monthly potluck dinner and devotion (see Michi Shimada)
1/12-15 Winter Vision
1/14 both services Mission Moment – Munetaka and Sandy Mori
1/19 10:30am 55+ Outing to JCCWC for a potluck lunch and concert by Shtrykov-Tanaka (see Yumi Fujii)
1/21 Childrens’ dedications (see Pastor Rod)
1/28 9:00am Small Groups Kickoff Breakfast (see Pastor Eric)
Have a wonderful week, calling on the name of Jesus Christ,
Stan, for slzjcc