Advent 2019 – Session Three
Advent Study 2019 – Session Three
Read Matthew Chapter 2: 9 – 11
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The celebration of the birth of Jesus has over the years been seen as a commercial opportunity and a time for merry making. This is not a modern phenomenon as even in Oliver Cromwell’s time he banned the celebration of Christmas because he felt it had lost it’s religious significance.
- Was he right to do this?
- Would any useful purpose be served if the Christian Church dissociated itself from the commercialised festivities of today?
- If we did so what would Christmas look and feel like in our homes and churches?
There is a stream of the commercial Christmas which portrays the events in a childlike and “cute” fashion. Some may even have reached the conclusion that “Christmas” is primarily for children and that is where the “magic” lies.
- What is the danger or harm in this line of thinking? Does Christmas lose its magic as we grow older?
- Do you think that the custom of exchanging gifts has got out of hand? Does the exchanging of gifts retain any religious significance today?
We hear the sound of carols echoing through our streets and churches. We sing enthusiastically the well known words but do we consider what we are singing and do we understand what it is that we are asking for as we sing.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
- What do you think you are asking for when you sing these words?
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.
- How could Christ be “Born in us today”?
Both of these hymns draw on the belief that Jesus will one day return to the earth.
Read Matthew 25: 1 – 13
25 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
- Do you find this promise of a return at an indeterminate date helpful?
- Does such a promise affect the way that we live our lives and the urgency with which we seek to spread the Gospel message?
- Would others looking at us think that we were wise or foolish bridesmaids?