Mothers’ Union Chester Diocese Advent 2013 Services – Sermon 234

8th January 2016 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Mothers’ Union Chester Diocese

2013 Advent services – 2pm

3rd December St Michael & All Angels, Bramhall

4th December All Saints, Hoole, Chester

Bible References :

  • Add Text Link Here
  • Add Text Link Here
  • Add Text Link Here

Prayer to start


May the words of my lips and the thought of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ                                      AMEN





What do we find wonderful and exciting about Christmas? –


The decorations  – the party atmosphere  – the rich food – the holidays off work  – being with our family and friends? –


If you ask many families what they think makes their Christmas enjoyable and exciting – they will probably answer – the children – seeing their faces light up as they open their presents – giving and sharing time with them –


Having children in our homes can help make things special – having one child in particular – can change our lives


Point 1        The opening message – Elisabeth, Zechariah and John


Many Christians at this time of year turn to St Luke’s Gospel for the Christmas story –


Luke alone tells us the story of Mary and the Angel’s visit to her and gives us the wonderful Magnificat


Luke alone tells us the story of Simeon’s hymn of praise giving us the Nunc Dimitus


Luke alone tells us the story of the Angels appearing to the shepherds and how they visited the infant Jesus


And what makes it so amazing is that Luke is not a Jew but a Gentile –


All these expected events were unique – as was the choosing of Mary – the Mother of Jesus –


Luke begins His gospel with some sensational news –

For over 400 years – prophecy had been silent – but now it was time for the prophetic voice – to burst out again –


A new voice would come on the scene – one that would pave the way for an even greater voice to come –


God was about to break through Israel’s darkness with a powerful light – and He was to use the most unlikeliest people – to do it – an elderly, childless couple – and a teenage girl – engaged to a peasant carpenter


He was sending a new David – and with Him a prophet – who would go ahead and prepare the way – ‘the way of Holiness’ –


Zechariah and Elisabeth weren’t expecting any of this – they were simple devout people – going about their regular business – keeping the law – as a sign of devotion to God –


Like all priests – except the chief priest – Zechariah would only come into the city when it was his turn to perform the regular Temple liturgy

– and it was on one such occasion – he was told by Angel Gabriel – that all this would happen – and it would be his son John – who will be that prophet


Zechariah’s doubts – not least because of Elizabeth’s age – and his need for a sign – resulted in him being struck dumb –


And he was only – released from – it when he  finally accepted what had been foretold – and agreed to naming his son John –


This break with tradition – in front of all his family – was confirmation that  – this child – would not follow in his fathers’ footsteps – but follow the path – chosen for him by God –


John’s Spiritual growth and development was to take place – in the desert – and – it’s from the desert that God’s pathway will emerge – and be established-


For Zechariah – the release from the nine months silence – became a new sign – and in Luke’s verses He openly praises God – and reconfirms the prophecy given to him – of what his child will become –


The story of Elisabeth and Zechariah and their son John – spread quickly around the countryside – and as Luke writes: ‘all were filled with awe’ – at what had happened and what they heard – and wondered “what then is this child going to be? – For the Lord’s hand was with him”


God worked through Elizabeth and Zechariah  to fulfill His purposes – and along the way – a families prayers and dreams were fulfilled –


There may be a bigger picture –  but the needs and hopes and fears of an ordinary people were not forgotten – in the Larger story – God takes care of our smaller concerns  – as well as those of nations and the world  –


Elisabeth and Zechariah’s story – reminds us too that this Advent – we also have a story to tell – the story of how the arrival of another baby – has made a tremendous difference to our lives – how He has changed our world beyond all our expectations –


We are all children of God – and each one of us – a joy and celebration in God’s eyes-


We are all special to Him – and no doubt  – like John  – have a special purpose to fulfill – and maybe somebody we know – will have been deeply impressed – and say of us -‘‘What will this child become for indeed the hand of God is upon them’


Point 2  Mary and Jesus


And so to Mary – and what has become one of the most famous songs in Christianity –

A fourteen year old pregnant teenager – expecting a child out of wedlock – dismissing those condemning voices from her immediate family -.


Proclaiming a moment of celebration – and knowing that she would give birth to a child that would be the Saviour of mankind –


Mary was able to see beyond the events that were before her – that all that the prophets had said – was coming true – and God was now doing – what He said to Israel’s earliest Ancestors –


As Mary and Elizabeth celebrate together what God is doing through their two sons John and Jesus –  she proclaims her Magnificat –


The OT prophets and scriptures spoke of mercy – hope – fulfillment- and rescue –


That the mighty will be put down and the rich sent empty away –


The poor and lowly – will find hope and there will be a new future for God’s people – in their redemption –


And all this will come about because of the birth of her son –


God has put in motion events that will transform the world forever –


The old has given way to the new – and the new has come to birth in her –


Through Mary- an unknown Jewish girl – from a small village – God will share the life of the world as a human being – and will be seen in a new light


Her Son Jesus – will speak and show God’s love in action – fulfill all the promises made in the Scriptures – and His Spirit will reach into the hearts of everyone –


Three qualities – of Mary – shine through –


Her humility – astonished to be greeted as one who is specially favoured


Her Honesty – she is not afraid to question how the Angel’s promise to her can possibly come true


Her Commitment – having asked her question and expressed her doubts – she then says “Yes” – and accepts God’s will for her life –


“I am the Lord’s servant” said Mary “Let it be as you have said”


Mary wholeheartedly accepted Jesus into her life – yet sometimes we find it difficult – to make Him part of ours


How many times have we watched in amazement – as young children open their presents – at Christmas  – take a quick look at what’s inside – and then start to play with the paper or the box –


Do we ever stop to wonder then – what God must think of us – when we – spend so much time playing with our Christmas wrappings – and sometimes ignore the real gift  – the real reason  – behind it all –


Some modern large glass buildings – have a picture of a bird in flight – on their large glass sections – this is to stop birds  flying into the glass and killing themselves –


It seems that the only thing that will persuade birds to change direction – is to see one of their own kind – doing the same –


Well  – God wants us to change our direction – and follow His –


For years He has tried to communicate with us – through miracles and prophets  – and has been ignored – Until finally God decided to come down as one of us – and helps us to change –


God sent His Son Jesus – to come and tell us about Himself – and to show us what He is like and what He wants – us to become


In Jesus God shows us too – that He is prepared to experience every aspect of our lives –


He was sent into the world as a baby – the most vulnerable time of our lives – and God chose a poor family – from one of the most oppressed peoples of the world – to bring Him up – it’s certainly not the start we would have chosen – for the King of kings –


Jesus came to be a true example of God’s grace –

an illustration of God’s nature – and a blueprint for us to copy and follow


He came to live – and experience – our disappointments – our failures – to help us to see God at work even in our most difficult times –


He came to express God’s love in the most needed places  – to heal the sick – give sight to the blind – enable the lame to walk – put His life on the line – in order to show us that He understands and cares for our individual needs –


Jesus was sent – to die for us on the cross – so that we can see the true cost of our sins – and to offer us forgiveness – paid for by His own blood


We celebrate Christmas and the gift of Jesus in a manger – but its not the manger that gives us the restored relationship with God – it’s the cross and the empty tomb –

Jesus gave everything for us – so that we could receive everything from God –



Point 3        What it means to say Yes –


A little boy was with his Father – at church looking curiously at the Nativity scene – “Dad – look at the manger – is Father Christmas there? – “No” said his Father – it’s the Kings giving presents to Jesus – remember we told you – that Christmas is really about – a celebration of Jesus’ birth –


The boy thought for a moment – and then asked another question


Dad – “What are we giving Jesus for His birthday this year?”


The greatest gift any one can receive is Jesus Christ – And the most important gift – we can give Him – this Advent – this Christmas – is ourselves –


In our Christmas celebrations – we might be warmed by the accounts of the Christmas story and Jesus’ birth – His life and ministry –


But God wants more – He wants us to be one of His people – and to become part of His Kingdom –


In life we all draw our own – circle of experience and activity – And when we are asked to step outside that circle we can feel anxious – sometimes afraid – like Mary –


But like Mary – we too must be ready to let ourselves be used by God – for His purposes-


If God can change the world through one small child – maybe with His help He can make a big difference to our lives as well




So are we excited about Christmas this year? – will Christmas herald in a new beginning in our lives.


Many people believe Christmas is about children


Well it is – it’s about the children of God – you and me – and our relationship with Him –


God calls us –like the people in Luke’s Christmas story – to accept our part in His revelation – and to receive Him and reply in faith as they did  –  To tell our story and experiences of the Christ Child –


God’s gift of Jesus is an event that happened in our history – through God’s love – and grace – and for our salvation – and all He asks us to do – is – accept it with love and wonder at it all –



In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit