131218 Luke 2:28-32

Sermon Text: Luke 2:28-32

Sermon Theme: THE SONG OF SIMEON: THE NUNC DIMITTIS

Simeon took him [Jesus] in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

As many of you know, I LOVE Christmas music! I start listening to the music I have saved on my computer already at the beginning of November. As soon as a radio station switches over to "all-Christmas music, all the time", I quickly reset my preset stations. I know that there are some that join with me, and start playing their Christmas music early. I also know that there are others who won't start playing their music until after Thanksgiving. One of the reasons they will give is that they don't want to get sick of hearing Christmas music. I will admit that there are some of the Christmas songs I hear on the radio, that after a while, when I hear them come on, I quickly change to another "Christmas station" I have set. During our Mid-Week Worship Services this year, we have taken a closer look at some on the "Songs of the Seasons". These are songs that we don't get tired of hearing. They are songs that we sing throughout the year, not just at Christmas time. Two weeks ago we focused on "The Song of Mary", also known as The Magnificat. Last week, Pastor Pagels helped us to focus on "The Song of Zechariah", also known as The Benedictus. Tonight, as we bring to a close our Mid-Week Advent Worship Services, we listen to another "Song of the Season". Tonight, we listen to "The Song of Simeon", also known as the Nunc Dimittis.

Read more: 131218 Luke 2:28-32

131211 Luke 1:67-79

Text: Luke 1:67-79
Theme: Benedictus = Praise = Blessed

Fast forward forty five minutes. This service is now over. You are gathering up the things in your pew when you spot someone you need to talk to. You make your way out into the fireside room and wade through the people. As you approach that person and open your mouth to speak, nothing comes out. Nothing at all. You don't know how it happened, but somehow you lost your voice

You try again, but it doesn't get any better. No amount of throat clearing can bring your voice back either. In fact, you are unable to make a sound for an entire year. No talking on the telephone. No hymn singing. No ability to tell your mom or dad or son or daughter, "I love you."

Now imagine that it is one year later. Out of necessity, you have learned to adapt to your situation. You use a lot of hand gestures now. Your have to write things down. You aren't happy about life without a voice, but you have learned to live with it. And then it happens. All of the sudden, with absolutely no warning, you can speak again. Your voice can be heard loud and clear.

If this were a true story, if this really happened to you, what would you want to say with your newly restored voice? What would you want to be the very first words to come out of your mouth? Maybe you want to think about that for a while.

If you are looking for suggestions, you are in luck because this is a true story. This did happen to an old priest named Zechariah. Because he doubted the angel Gabriel's promise that God would give him a son in his old age, he lost his ability to speak.

When the angel's words came true a year later, eight days after John was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth, Zechariah's voice returned. And Luke records for us the first words that came out of his mouth. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Zechariah burst into song, a song whose title comes from the Latin translation of the first word: Benedictus.

Benedictus can mean a couple different things in English. The NIV translates it as "praise." "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel" (1:68). The King James Version of the Bible opts for the word, "blessed." "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel." Both words work. Both words are meaningful. And instead of choosing one translation over the other, both will be incorporated into this sermon. Tonight as we meditate on the second great song of the Advent season, with Zechariah we sing...

BENEDICTUS = PRAISE = BLESSED

I. Zechariah praised God
II. Zechariah was blessed by God

Read more: 131211 Luke 1:67-79

131208 Acts 3:19-26

Text: Acts 3:19-26
Theme: Does Advent Have You Feeling Blue?

"I think there must be something wrong with me...Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that. But I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."

Do you know who spoke those words? If you don't know, or if you aren't sure, the response of the person on the receiving end of that lament should clear up any confusion: "You're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy's right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Brown-iest."

Linus had a point. If you know anything about Charlie Brown, you know that he had a gift for making the worst of a not-so-bad situation. He had trouble making friends. He struggled to find the joy in life. And in the opening dialogue of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," he expressed his unhappiness about the holiday season.

It would be funny if it was just a cartoon, but it's not so funny because it's not just a cartoon. There are lots of people who are wandering aimlessly through life, and they are especially lost this time of year. They want to be happy. They do all kinds of things to make themselves happy. But they aren't happy. Maybe you know some of them. Maybe there are some days when you feel like one of them.

According to one popular song, this is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year," but do you sometimes wonder about that? When you think about all the things you need to do in the next two weeks, do you get excited or do you get depressed? Or to put the question in the framework of the church year...

DOES ADVENT HAVE YOU FEELING BLUE?

Read more: 131208 Acts 3:19-26

131204 Luke 1:46-55

Guest preacher: Rev. Larry Schlomer
Text: Luke 1:46-55
Theme: Rejoice—Right Down To Your Soul!

In some ways getting ready for Christmas in the Dominican Republic was the same as getting ready for Christmas in Oconomowoc. Lights were hung on houses. Christmas trees were put up. Shopping for gifts began. Families made travel plans to gather over these days. Special worship services were planned.

In some ways it was very different. It has been a while since I have Christmased in Wisconsin, but I'm guessing it will not be 85 degrees on the 25th. I'm guessing our whole neighborhood won't gather around a pot over a fire in the middle of the street as every household brings and adds an ingredient for hot chocolate to be shared by one and all. Wisconsin Avenue won't be lined with whole roasted pigs still on a wooden rotisserie pole in crispy shades of brown and black ready to be bought for Christmas meals.

You might be able to tell that there are some things I miss about spending Christmas in the Dominican Republic, but there is one thing my wife and I don't miss much at all. You see Dominicans can't have a Christmas gathering without Merengue music. Don't misunderstand. I don't mind the tropical beat of the music, but a Dominican can't have a gathering with Merengue music without dancing. And everyone was expected to dance. But Merengue music and German blood don't seem to mix well. One of my Dominican friends explained my troubles this way: "You are trying to dance Merengue by how it looks on the outside, but the joy of Merengue dancing has to come from the inside."

Even after 9 years of trying I don't think my Merengue ever looked like it came from the inside, but my Dominican friend was on to something. Real expressions of joy have to come from the inside. We can all get pretty good at putting on a show of the expected Christmas joy. But unless it is a joy that is rooted deep down in your heart, a practiced show always comes up empty and leaves us feeling guilty for not having the real joy in our hearts that we know the Christmas season is meant to bring.

That is why we need to take a close look at what Mary says in our text this evening. She is on to something that we all want to have: joy that isn't just on the surface but comes from the heart. She says, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." This evening let's take a moment to consider why Mary had this joy that welled up from deep inside her. You can learn through these inspired words what it takes to Rejoice – Right Down to Your Soul!

Read more: 131204 Luke 1:46-55

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