Shout it from the Roof Tops

Message Title: Shout it from the Roof Tops
Theme: God’s consistency
Season: Christmas
Main Text: John 1:(1-9), 10-18
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1:(1-9), 10-18
Focus: Jesus was present & part of the plan from the beginning.
Function: To practice awe and wonder while considering the implications of our beliefs on our lives.
Other Notes: (Hidden Ministries/Mission of the Month)

SCRIPTURE READING: Jeremiah 31:7-14 7The Lord proclaims: Sing joyfully for the people of Jacob; shout for the leading nation. Raise your voices with praise and call out: “The Lord has saved his people, the remaining few in Israel!” 8I’m going to bring them back from the north; I will gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the disabled, expectant mothers and those in labor; a great throng will return here. 9With tears of joy they will come; while they pray, I will bring them back. I will lead them by quiet streams and on smooth paths so they don’t stumble. I will be Israel’s father, Ephraim will be my oldest child. 10Listen to the Lord’s word, you nations,  and announce it to the distant islands: The one who scattered Israel will gather them and keep them safe, as a shepherd his flock. 11The Lord will rescue the people of Jacob and deliver them from the power of those stronger than they are. 12They will come shouting for joy on the hills of Zion, jubilant over the Lord’s gifts: grain, wine, oil, flocks, and herds. Their lives will be like a lush garden; they will grieve no more. 13Then the young women will dance for joy; the young and old men will join in. I will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy; I will comfort them. 14I will lavish the priests with abundance and shower my people with my gifts, declares the Lord.

INTRO: Though many of you have already taken down your Christmas decorations, this a still a season of awe and wonder. On Dec 29th, 2020 NASA took a poll through their twitter feed @NASAHubble to pick the Hubble photo of the year. Let’s take a look at the four options.

  1. 2020 Hubble space telescope photos
    1. Cosmic Reef
    2. Jupiter
    3. Saturn
    4. Neptune
  2. Which is your favorite?
  3. Polling Results PHOTO
  4. Did you know that most photos taken by Hubble have been digitally edited in one way or another?
    1. This doesn’t mean NASA is lying to us, but that the technology we use to capture photos doesn’t work like a typical camera.
    2. Through the data they receive they are able to make estimations about the colors in the photos.
      1. “Finished color images are actually combinations of two or more black-and-white exposures to which color has been added during image processing. The colors in Hubble images, which are assigned for various reasons, aren’t always what we’d see if we were able to visit the imaged objects in a spacecraft. We often use color as a tool, whether it is to enhance an object’s detail or to visualize what ordinarily could never be seen by the human eye.”
    3. Sources:
      1. https://www.space.com/8059-truth-photos-hubble-space-telescope-sees.html
      2. http://hubble.stsci.edu/gallery/behind_the_pictures/meaning_of_color/
      3. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-hubble-images-are-manipulted-2015-3
      4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=WSG0MnmUsEY
      5. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2015/01/05/hubble-revisits-an-icon-the-pillars-of-creation/#close
      6. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/05/dear-hubble-space-telescope-transformed-astronomy-and-us-all/

TRANSITION: Humanity has been curious since the very beginning about our world and the heavens above.In our text for today, John starts his Gospel focusing on the vastness of creation. Let’s zoom out with John and see the big picture of the story of Jesus.

SCRIPTURE: John 1: 1-18 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2The Word was with God in the beginning. 3Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being 4through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. 6A man named John was sent from God. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. 9The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. 10The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. 11The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. 12But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, 13born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. 14The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full  of grace and truth. 15John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’” 16From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; 17as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known.

Explanation:

  1. Intro to John’s Gospel: John’s Gospel wants everyone to know that Jesus didn’t enter the scene at Christmas. Jesus has always been on the scene. Jesus wasn’t some dude that God liked and claimed as his son. Jesus was God in the flesh. But there are other gods who have similar stories, so John’s gospel focuses on Jesus’ divinity and its uniqueness to other stories of gods-made-flesh.
  2. “in the Beginning” should bring us back to Genesis 1:1. John is saying that Jesus was present at creation as the Word.
  3. Word, Life, Light- Jesus is more than just a man that we meet at Christmas.Jesus is God, who was present with us at the beginning.

INTERPRETATION & APPLICATION: To practice awe and wonder while considering the implications of our beliefs on our lives.

  1. Awe & wonder are significant elements in our worship of God. Our God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This idea is way bigger than my brain can understand. The complexity should lead to worship.
    1. And perhaps worship starts out as questions which can lead to wonder.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:  I want to play a philosophy game with you for a moment. I will ask a question that I want us to ponder together. I am not looking for a “right answer” but for thoughtfulness.
    1. Why did God make other “stuff” besides earth & the sun?
      1. Did God make creation FOR us?
      2. If not, then why did God make creation?
    2. When I think about these questions, and the answers I develop, it changes the way I view the world and how I interact with it.
  3. Honesty time: When I read scripture, I don’t always think of a tangible way to apply the words I read. Frequently, the words continue to inform me about who God is and the collective information adjusts my behavior.
    1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
      1. One nugget from this book: The way we think or speak about ourselves places a large impact on our habits or behavior.
    2. This passage in John makes me think, “… Ok, and now what?” I don’t hear a practical step screaming out from this passage. However, I am filled with awe about God.
  4. AUDIENCE ENAGEMENT: How would the knowledge that Jesus was present at creation and not just at Christmas change things for you?
    1. How do your beliefs create a chain reaction to other parts of your life?

CONCLUSION: Knowledge of the wonders of God *should* stir something inside of us. Much like seeing the majesty of space leads to awe and wonder. It’s exciting to talk about the discoveries NASA and Space X are making. Do we talk about our discoveries with God?

The goal is not to provide a guilt trip but a time of reflection. We have survived 2020 and know that there are no guarantees in 2021. How do we make 2021 a year that God’s kingdom comes to this world? The possibilities are in your hands.

COMMUNION: As we dwell in the awe of God, we will also take time to celebrate communion together.

Let’s dwell in the mystery of Bread & Juice, as it represents Jesus’ body and blood and the salvation we receive through him.

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