Week of Proclamation

Week of Proclamation
December 14th
Luke 2:8-20

In the beginning God created by proclaiming his word of light and life over the dark and formless void of earth. There is something powerful about proclaiming. The act itself is to state something as existing. It isn’t a question of permission, it’s a proclamation of being, a calling into existence by one who has both power and authority to make it so.

One of the often uses phrases in the Old Testament is “thus says the Lord.” It is a phrase uttered by prophets to qualify their statements as proclamations from God, not themselves. God would send news, not advice, to his people about what he was going to do and how it would change their lives. At times he would proclaim judgment when they lived in disobedience and rebellion. Other times he would proclaim peace and stability. The history of God’s people in the Old Testament has the wild swings of a modern day soap opera. Until that night in the fields when the shepherds were visited by angels. Two words in that proclamation changed their lives: “unto you...” This meant that the arrival of the Savior included them and was specifically for them. What good news, proclaimed on behalf of God who has the power and authority to make it so. But that isn’t the greatest proclamation. Years later, that baby who was proclaimed by angels would hang on a cross for humanity and make the most radical, world-changing proclamation in all eternity. There on the cross, Jesus proclaimed “Father forgive them.” The Living Word of God, proclaiming pardon over a guilty humanity – you and me. This is good news, not good advice. Good advice leaves the work of accomplishing to the one who receives it (us), whereas good news is that the work of accomplishing has been done by someone else – Jesus! And what Jesus proclaims cannot be undone or dismantled. It simply needs to be believed.

Christmas is a time of lots of advice and affirmation – which can be very helpful and encouraging. But Jesus didn’t arrive to give advice and affirmation, he came to proclaim new life through faith in his death and resurrection. The proclamation was not “God could be with you if you...” but simply God IS with you. His proclamation over you is that through faith, you are a beloved son or daughter, never to be anything less. There is more certainty in his word of forgiveness and renewal over you than there is in his word proclaimed over the formless void in the beginning of creation.

Pastoral Prayer
Gracious Lord, it has been said that much of our struggle as people is found in not taking you at Your word and adjusting our lives accordingly. We ask for so many interventions, so much guidance, so much provision which You do indeed welcome. I pray, however, that we would hear and believe that which You’ve already proclaimed over us. Holy Spirit, I pray that You will, with persistence and determination, push the truth of the gospel past our doubts and fears. Our ears are filled with the dissonant choir of a hundred opinions about who we are or ought to be. O God, let Your people hear, above the din, the clarion call of Your steadfast enduring love, the very good news of our Savior Jesus. Let our lives be the testimony of Your grace to this world that You, Jesus, are indeed God with us. I pray in Your name. Amen.

Questions to ponder together
What is it that often keeps you from speaking up about the gospel? Why is that so scary?

What are some differences between good advice and good news? Why is this important with the gospel?

What are some reasons you struggle to believe Christ’s proclamation of you as a beloved and fully forgiven son/daughter of God? What truth can you turn to to recondition your belief?

Activities with family and/or Gospel Community
Make a list of 10 things you love about the gospel this Christmas.

Get a group together and go caroling at a nursing home or daycare, followed by time together to talk about why it was so rewarding.

List a few typical “good advice” phrases used at Christmas time and re-work them to be Jesus- focused “good news”

Meditation verses
Monday Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased

Tuesday Isaiah 55:11 ...so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Wednesday 2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.

Thursday 1John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

Friday Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday Isaiah 62:2 ...and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.

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