15th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Candle

December 14, 2009

DECEMBER 15:  Isaiah 9:2

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (NIV)

At Christmas time people decorate their homes with lights—electric lights trimming the tree or outlining the house, candles burning in the windows or on holiday tables. Christians have a special reason to decorate with lights at Christmas, because Jesus came to be the light of the world. He said: “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).

Darkness is the absence of knowledge about the love of God. People living in darkness do not know they need God’s love. The verse in Isaiah also talks about “the land of the shadow of death.” Everyone will someday face death—like a shadow that hangs over each of us. People know that they will die, but many do not know what will come after that. The fear of death is a form of darkness. But God has promised to walk with us through “the valley of the shadow of death.” We need not fear death’s shadow, for God promises to be present with us when our time comes to walk that path darkened by death’s shadow.

When Jesus came, He demonstrated God’s love and forgiveness. He taught that those who receive His love will live in Heaven with Him after they die. He promised that He would go to Heaven to prepare a special place for each person who trusts Him. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

Jesus came to earth to show people their need of God and the way to find Him. He came to lighten the world with the love of God. This Christmas, think of each candle or Christmas light you see as a reminder of God’s love.

Light of the world
Shine down on Bethlehem
God in his glory has sent us a Son
Shout from on high
And out in the street
Jesus our Savior is born!

Bright shining star
Shine down on everyone
God in his mercy has sent us a Son
The shepherds will cry
Praise to the Lord!
Jesus our Savior is born!

Alleluia baby Jesus
Alleluia baby Jesus
Jesus our Savior is born
Sing alleluia

Brent Bourgeois (b. 1958)

Thank God for sending His Son, Jesus, to be a light so you don’t have to walk in darkness or live in the land of the shadow of death.

Ask Jesus to use you to be a light reflecting the light of Jesus with your friends and neighbors.

Do thou, Christ, deign to kindle our lamps, our Saviour most sweet to us, that they may shine continually in thy temple, and receive perpetual light from thee the light perpetual, so that our darkness may be driven from us.

St Columbanus (543-615 AD)

14th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Olive Branch

December 13, 2009

DECEMBER 14: Micah 5:5a

And he will be their peace.

Many contemporary Christmas cards say something about peace. We think about peace at Christmas because of the song that the angels sang when they told the shepherds about Jesus’ birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

The Old Testament word for peace was shalom, which means “completeness” or “well-being.” Every day our news is full of reports of wars and conflicts and other terrible events. Sometimes we know personally someone whose home has burned or who has been robbed or who is sick with a life-threatening disease. Most Americans felt their sense of peace shattered after September 11, 2001, when thousands of people died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We wonder if terrorists will strike a new target where we live. We also are disturbed by conflicts in our interpersonal relationships. Where is the peace that God promised to bring through Jesus?

Our peace begins with peace with God. If we are not at peace with God, we will not experience the completeness or sense of well-being shalom brings. The Bible tells us that because of sin, we were actually God’s enemies (Colossians 1:21). But Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that we could have peace with God once again. Many people cannot understand why they do not have peace in their lives. By accepting what Jesus did for us, we can have the inner peace He came to bring.

That inner peace comes after we make peace with God. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This kind of peace does not depend on the absence of bad things happening around us, but from the knowledge that God is in control and will take care of us. Jesus promised to give us peace in the midst of the world’s trouble.

We use an olive branch as the symbol for peace. Often the olive branch is pictured in the mouth of a dove. After the flood, Noah sent out a dove to see if the land had dried up. The first time the dove went out, it returned because it could not find a place to light. The second time the dove came back it had an olive branch in its mouth. Since then both the dove and the olive branch have been used as symbols of peace. In the story of Noah the dove and olive branch showed that God was continuing to love and to provide for Noah and his family.

Someday Jesus will return and end all wars and bring peace. In the meantime, He promises to give us peace with God that enables us to have an inner contentment in the midst of a troubled world.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heav’n’s all-gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heav’nly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hov’ring wing.
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

For lo, the days are hast’ning on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heav’n and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876)

Thank God that Jesus Christ is our peace—that He came to fill us with shalom—completeness.

Ask God to so fill us with His peace that people around us are attracted to the peace of God.

Christ our God, King of peace, grant us your peace,
establish for us your peace and forgive our sins.
For yours is the power, the glory,
the blessing and the might, for ever. Amen.

Coptic Blessing

13th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Donkey

December 13, 2009

DECEMBER 13: Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly; O Daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey (NASB)

Zechariah tells the people of Jerusalem that their king, their Messiah, will come to them riding on a donkey. At the time Zechariah wrote this, common people used donkeys for transportation and to help them in their work. Kings rode on horses. It had not always been that way. The first kings of Israel rode on donkeys, but after the time of Solomon they started using horses.

For the people of Israel horses represented war and donkeys represented peace. By the time Jesus was born, the Jewish people were looking for a King who would free them from Roman rule. They expected this to happen through warfare. But God did not send His Son to bring political freedom. He came to bring freedom from bondage to sin and to establish peace with God.

The donkey not only represented peace; it was also a sign of humbleness. Jesus was not born in a palace, but in a lowly stable. He was born into a poor family and spent most of His time with the poor. No one would expect a king to live this way. Through His birth and up-bringing, Jesus identified with the poor and lived a life that enabled Him to understand the struggles that millions of people face every day.

Zechariah’s prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus rode into Jerusalem a few days before His crucifixion. When they saw Him riding on a donkey, the people recognized this as a fulfillment of Zechariah’s words. That is why they cried, “Hosanna!” and threw palm branches and their coats on the road in front of Him. But they were still expecting their king to fight to free them from Roman rule; they did not understand that Jesus is a king of peace, not of war.

The donkey is often a part of the nativity scene because Mary may have ridden to Bethlehem on a donkey. Next time you see the donkey in a crèche, remember that the donkey symbolizes the humility of Jesus and the peace that He came to bring.

Good Christian men, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say:
Jesus Christ is born today,
Ox and ass before Him bow
And He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today!

John Mason Neale (1818-1866)

Thank God for Jesus’ example of humility; and for the fact that Jesus came to earth bringing peace.

Ask God to help you to follow Jesus’ example and humbly serve Him and also serve some of the poor in the world.

O Lord Jesus, I will embrace you who become a little child for me. In my weakness I clasp you who became weak for me. A mere man, I embrace you who is God made man. You came a man as poor as I am, and you rode into Jerusalem seated on a humble donkey. I embrace you, O Lord, because your lowliness is my greatness, your weakness is my strength, your foolishness is my wisdom.

Aelred of Rievaulx (1109-1167)

12th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Mother and Child

December 11, 2009

December 12:  Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (ESV)

God designed that each child has both a mother and a father. A cell from both mother and father together create a new cell that develops into a baby. Therefore it is impossible for a virgin to have a baby. But God told Isaiah that a baby would be born without an earthly father. He also said that this baby was to be called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” This baby would be God Himself living among humans.

When the time came for God to send His Son into the world, the angel told Mary that she would have a Child who would be “the Son of the Most High.” But since Mary was not yet married, she asked the angel how this could be. The angel explained that the Holy Spirit would create the new life within her. Because of the angel’s visit, Mary knew what was happening in her, but her fiancé, Joseph, did not understand. He began to think that Mary had been unfaithful to him. How else could she have gotten pregnant? God also sent an angel to Joseph; and Joseph believed the angel. Matthew explains that, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us’” (1:22-23).

When God submitted Himself to human limitations by becoming a baby, His choice of the baby’s mother was significant. The helpless infant could not be born to a woman who would neglect and abuse Him. God knew that Mary would be a faithful mother. She expresses her total acceptance of the news that she would bear God’s Son: “May it be to me as you have said.” She was willing to bear the shame of an apparent illegitimate pregnancy in obedience to God. She submitted herself to God, not only in her pregnancy, but also in caring for His Son through the vulnerable days of infancy and childhood.

In this way, God Himself became a person with flesh and blood just like us. Jesus understands how we feel when we are tired or thirsty or sad because He lived in a body just like ours with the same needs and feelings that we have. Though He created the whole earth, He became one of His creations in order to fully show us God’s love. Though He was all-powerful, He became a helpless baby. The real miracle of Christmas is that God Himself came and lived among us.

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Joseph Mohr (1792-1848)

Thank God for sending His Son—Immanuel (God with us)—who was miraculously born of a virgin, and who lives among us.

Ask God to help us to live in the awareness that He is living among us.

Once did the skies before Thee bow,
A Virgin’s arms contain Thee now;
Angels, who did in Thee rejoice,
Now listen for Thine infant voice.

A little child, Thou art our guest,
That weary ones in Thee may rest;
Forlorn and lowly is Thy birth,
That we may rise to heaven from earth.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

11th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Bethlehem

December 10, 2009

DECEMBER 11: Micah 5:2

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times (NIV)

When the three wise men followed the star after Jesus’ birth, they went to King Herod in Jerusalem to ask where they could find “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Herod knew little about God’s promises, so he asked the religious leaders what they knew. They quoted this verse to tell Herod that the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem. Over 700 years before Jesus’ birth, God had told His people where this promise would be fulfilled!

Bethlehem was not Mary and Joseph’s hometown. They lived in Nazareth. Just before Jesus was to be born, the Roman emperor decided to determine how many people lived under his rule. In order to ensure the census counted the people correctly, the governor ordered everyone to travel to the town of their ancestors. Because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to return to the place of David’s birth—Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph must have been pretty upset about this. It was nearly time for the baby to be born, but instead of staying at home where family members could help Mary with the birth and take care of the new baby, they had to travel to a strange place. They could not ask to wait until after the baby’s birth. Everyone had to obey the demands of the Roman government.

“No Vacancy” signs posted at motels can be unnerving to weary travelers. How much more frightening it must have been for Mary and Joseph to enter a strange town, knowing that the baby would be born soon, and to find that every single inn was full. They must have wondered why God had not arranged for them to stay in Nazareth. God had made many promises to both Mary and Joseph about this baby. If the baby was so special, why was God not taking better care of them?

God was fulfilling His plan. He had promised that His Savior would be born in Bethlehem. The Roman emperor certainly did not know that when he ordered the census, but Mary and Joseph of Nazareth were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. This provides an early clue that this baby was the Savior God had promised.

We often do not understand why God allows us to experience difficulties in our lives. Sometimes afterwards we understand why an inconvenient change of plans actually worked out better. But regardless of our understanding, we simply have to trust that God’s plan is perfect, not just for us, but for His larger plan for all of history. Mary and Joseph were willing to fill their part in God’s plan for the birth of His Son. Are you willing to let God show you where you fit into His design?

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

O holy Child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

Phillips Brooks (1868)

Thank God for Mary and Joseph’s faithful trust in God and for sending Jesus Christ to be born in Bethlehem, and to rule over us forever.

Ask Jesus to rule over your life and to increase your trust in Him and in His leading in your life.

Your angels comfort me when they promise that you shall return in the same manner that you left, as King of kings. When you first came to Bethlehem you were humble and lowly. When you return the fullness of your glory and power shall be revealed.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

10th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Scales of Justice

December 9, 2009

DECEMBER 10: Isaiah 11:3, 4

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth (NIV)

Popular court shows on television depict people who think they have been wronged taking their case to court to convince the judge to agree with them. However, judges only decide based what they can hear and see. They decide who to believe based on what both sides tell them, but they cannot know for certain who is presenting the true story.

Our eyes and ears give us much information, but even what we see and hear is impacted by our own prejudices. We long for a judge who knows everything and can judge with complete fairness and justice. These verses promise that Jesus will be that kind of judge.

The needy are most likely to be judged unfairly. In the days of Isaiah, the rich could give money to judges so they would judge the case in their favor. In our society those with money and power hire the best lawyers to present their case. A poor person accused of a crime is more likely to be found guilty than a rich person charged with the same crime. For Jesus, though, the amount of money or power or intelligence of a person has no bearing. He alone knows what is right and true.

A balance scale symbolizes justice. Balance scales are still used in markets in many parts of the world. On one side of the scale, the merchant puts what the customer wants to buy. On the other side, the merchant puts metal weights. When the two sides of the scale are at the same level—when they balance—the merchant knows how much the product weighs and how much to charge the customer. This creates a sense of  justice in that the merchant charges the same price for the same weight each time.

Jesus, the perfect judge, always makes right judgments because He knows everything. We can be sure that Jesus understands the truth about every situation. One day we will stand before Jesus to be judged for everything we have ever done. On that day, instead of looking at all the wrong things we have ever done, He will put His own life on the balance scales in place of ours to declare us “not guilty” before God. He will give us perfect justice, not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure (1808-1877)

Thank God that He has given us a perfect Judge in Jesus Christ who sees and knows everything and who will judge us justly. Thank God for what Jesus has done for us when He died on the cross; that when He judges us He will judge based on what Jesus has done, not on the many sins we have committed.

Ask God to help us to seek ways to help and serve the needy around us, and to treat them justly.

Lord, make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be “found wanting,” when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment.

C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

9th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Dove (Spirit)

December 8, 2009

DECEMBER 9:  Isaiah 11:2,3a

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord (NASB)

When God sent His Son to earth, He gave Him many important jobs to do. But God did not ask Him to do everything alone. He sent His Holy Spirit to Jesus in a special way so that people could see He had God’s blessing. This happened when Jesus went out into the desert where His cousin John was baptizing people. Jesus asked John to baptize Him, too. All four gospels tell us that God’s Spirit came down from Heaven like a dove onto Jesus. Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” God filled Jesus with His Spirit and assured Him and those who were watching that God was His Father who loved His Son. The Holy Spirit is often represented by a dove because that is the form people saw Him take at Jesus’ baptism. The dove also represents purity and innocence.

Jesus Himself acknowledged that God’s Spirit was with Him. Shortly after He began teaching, he went into a synagogue (the place where Jews gathered to worship) and began reading these words from Isaiah the prophet: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18,19). As everyone watched Him, Jesus said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled” (Luke 4: 21). He was telling the Jewish people that He was the one God had promised to fill with His Holy Spirit for a special ministry.

Before He left this earth, Jesus promised that His Spirit would come on believers to guide them as He had guided Jesus. Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit works in our lives to bring us to God, to show us how to please Him, and to give us gifts that enable us to serve Him. The verse in Isaiah tells us about the gifts that the Spirit would bring: wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. We know that all of these were present in Jesus’ life.

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love the as I ought to love

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The baptism of the heaven-descended Dove;
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

George Croly (1780-1860)

Thank God for sending His Holy Spirit to His children for knowledge and trust and fear of God Himself.

Ask God to cleanse you and fill you with His Spirit that you might live a life that pleases Him.

When You, O Lord, were baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest.
For the voice of the Father bore witness to
You and called You His beloved Son.
And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ our God, who has revealed Yourself and has enlightened the world, glory to You!

Troparion of Theophany

8th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Root

December 7, 2009

DECEMBER 8:  Isaiah 11:1, 10

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. . . . On that day the root of Jesse will stand as a signal for the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious (NRSV)

Alex Haley wrote the book Roots in order to understand something about the family he came from. He traced his family back to the slave plantations of the mid-1800’s and from there back to Africa. The book is the story of his family—of his roots. Many people are interested in learning about their family roots.

Long before God sent His Son, He was establishing family roots for Jesus. In Abraham and Jacob (or Israel) God chose a nation into which His Son, the Messiah, would be born. In Judah, God chose a tribe; in Jesse (the father of King David), a family line. Jesus’ roots were in the family line of Jesse and David, and of Abraham, Jacob and Judah.

By the time of Jesus’ birth, though, the family of David resembled a stump—like a tree that had been cut off. David’s descendants no longer ruled the Jewish people. Since the “tree” had been cut off for so long, no one was expecting new growth from it. Later on Isaiah (53:2) tells us that Jesus was “like a root out of dry ground.” Not only was the tree seemingly dead, but the ground was dry and unproductive. The sprouting of a new shoot from Jesse’s roots was not something anyone was expecting.

The “dry ground” foretells the humble beginnings of Jesus’ life on earth. Though he was born into the royal family of Israel, he was not born in line for the earthly throne. Instead of being born in a palace, he was born in a stable, where an animal’s feeding trough became his bed. His earthly father was not a rich, important man, but a humble carpenter.

Even though Jesus had humble beginnings, Isaiah tells us that He “will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.” Already there are people from all over the world who believe in Jesus, and someday in the future everyone will see His glory and bow down to Him.

Jesus calls Himself a root in one of the very last verses of the Bible (Revelation 22:16): “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” He is telling us that He is the root promised by Isaiah hundreds of years before the first Christmas. Your family roots are important, but whether or not you are rooted in Jesus matters even more.

O Morning Star, how fair and bright
thou beamest forth in truth and light,
O Sovereign meek and lowly!
Thou Root of Jesse, David’s Son,
my Lord and Master, thou has won
my heart to serve thee solely!
Thou art holy,
fair and glorious, all-victorious,
rich in blessing,
rule and might o’er all possessing.
                         Philipp Nicolai (1566-1608)

Thank God for Jesus’ family heritage for your own family heritage, and for your heritage in Jesus’ family.

Ask God to help you to fly the banner of Jesus’ love so that others might want to be adopted into His family.

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign to the people,
before whom kings shall shut their mouths
and the nations shall seek:
Come and deliver us and do not delay.

9th century author unknown

7th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Branch

December 6, 2009

December 7:  Zechariah 6:12

Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place and he shall build the temple of the Lord (ESV)

We often describe relationships in our families as our family tree. The diagram of these relationships looks like a tree with new branches sprouting off at each level. To try this out draw a tree trunk and write the names of one set of your grandparents in it. Then draw as many branches as the number of their children with each of their names. Draw more branches from these to show their children—these branches would represent you, your brothers and sisters, and cousins.

Zechariah 6:12 begins, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch.”  This man, called “the Branch,” is Jesus. Jeremiah 23:5 helps us to understand why Jesus is given this name: “’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.’” Just as we are a branch in our family, so Jesus is a branch in the family of David. Both Mary and Joseph were part of David’s family tree. Anyone descended from David would be a part of Israel’s royal line, and from this line would come the righteous king who will “do what is right and just in the land.”  We know we can trust Jesus as our king to do the right thing and to always act in fairness and justice.

The prophecy that the Messiah, or the Branch, would come from David’s family line was fulfilled in Jesus’ birth. Today, Jesus as the Branch is building His temple. The temple of the Lord is made up of all those who believe in Jesus. We, the Church, are part of God’s temple.

According Isaiah 4:2, “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel.” The verse begins, “In that day:” a day in the future when Jesus will reign in the New Jerusalem. We are part of the family line of Jesus, the branch of David. We look forward to the day when Jesus returns as King over all the earth.

How bright appears the Morning Star,
With mercy beaming from afar;
The host of heaven rejoices;
O Righteous Branch, O Jesse’s Rod!
Thou Son of man and Son of God!
We, too, will lift our voices:
Jesus, Jesus!
Holy, holy, yet most lowly,
Draw thou near us;
Great Emmanuel, come and hear us.

Rejoice, ye heavens; thou earth, reply;
With praise, ye sinners, fill the sky,
For this his incarnation.
Incarnate God, put forth thy power,
Ride on, ride on, great Conqueror,
Till all know thy salvation.
Amen, Amen!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Praise be given
Evermore, by earth and heaven.

Philip Nicolai (1556-1609)

Thank God for the church, which is the temple that Jesus, the Branch, is building.

Ask God to make us faithful in our service of working with Jesus to build His temple.

Songs of thankfulness and praise,
Jesus, Lord, to Thee we raise,
Manifested by the star
To the sages from afar;
Branch of royal David’s stem
In Thy birth at Bethlehem;
Anthems be to Thee addressed,
God in man made manifest.

Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885)

6th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Crown and Priest Headgear

December 5, 2009

December 6:  Zechariah 6:13

He will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two (NIV)

Zechariah the prophet lived about 500 years before Jesus was born. God asked Zechariah to give the Jewish people a message in the form of an object lesson (read Zechariah 6:9-15). God told Zechariah to get some silver and gold and make a crown, and put this crown on the head of Joshua, the high priest. Then Zechariah was to give the people the message we read in verses 12-13. God wanted the people to know that the Messiah would be both their priest and their king.

To the Jewish people, this was difficult to understand. God had said that only those from the tribe of Levi could be priests. He had also said that kings of Israel would come from the tribe of Judah. So it was not possible for one person to be both priest and king. But God wanted the people to know that when the Messiah came, He would be both priest and king.

We understand Jesus as our king because He rules our lives. But it is harder to understand how Jesus is our priest. An Old Testament priest stood between God and humans. He offered sacrifices to ask God’s forgiveness for sins. Ordinary people could not offer sacrifices to God themselves. If someone had broken one of God’s commands, they had to take an animal to the priest to offer to God. Their sin could not be forgiven until the priest killed the animal and offered the sacrifice.

When Jesus died He became our sacrifice for sin He also became our priest. Now anyone who believes in Him may come directly to God through Jesus. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we recognize that Jesus is our high priest who stands between us and God. The book of Hebrews (8:1-2) describes how Jesus acts as our high priest: “We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.”

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Thank God that Jesus is both our king—the ruler of our lives; and that He is our high priest—through His sacrifice our sins are forgiven.

Ask God to help us to live faithful lives in His kingdom; and to go to Him with the confession of our sins.

Almighty God, whose steadfast love is as great as the heavens are high above the earth, remove our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west, strengthen our life in his kingdom and keep us upright until the last day; through Jesus Christ our merciful high priest.

A Kenyan Revised Liturgy for Holy Communion