In this worship gathering, we hear a message from Isaiah 7.1-17 on “Immanuel”, born of a virgin. What meaning did it have for Isaiah’s time – particularly for King Ahaz – and what meaning does it have for us readers of the New Testament (since Matthew quotes this in his story of Jesus’ birth)? Watch here and find out more about the importance of trusting God. You can watch the whole worship gathering below, or just the message below that.
Well, we’re getting close! Christmas is just around the corner. I hope and pray that your preparations have been less-than-frazzling for you, that you have had time to breathe and enjoy the blessings of the season of Advent.
At St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, we’re going to open our service this week with the Advent carol, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. It’s a perennial favourite for some, and not a favourite of others. (This is true of most music, isn’t it? One of the things I consider when I’m choosing music for worship besides, “Will this fit with the theme of the service?” is, “You can’t please everybody,” and it’s true.) I suspect some people may not be fans of it because the song is in a minor key. Some folks just have an aversion to songs in minor keys, and yet there is a good reason why this, and any number of other traditional songs of the season of Advent, are in a minor key: it’s a musical expression of longing.
That’s what we do in the season of Advent: we long for Jesus to be born. We long for his ministry to begin. We long for his atoning death and resurrection to happen. (The latter is a reason why many songs in Lent are in a minor key, too, though we tend to expect that, since Good Friday has a ‘minor key’ feel to it altogether.)
So amid all that has taken place in these past few weeks – getting the house decorated, getting gifts purchased, getting baking done, getting meals prepared, etc., etc…have you had time for some longing?
Here’s a setting of the carol, in case you’ve already sung it this season, or if you’re one of the many recipients of Encouragement who does not attend St. Paul’s. As you sing it, let your heart be open to longing for Jesus.
“[T]he Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (Isaiah 7.14, NLT).
Signs: they’re everywhere. Whether it’s the little red octagonal stop sign at the intersection in front of you, or the big yellow stylized M on the main drag advertising the local Slurp ‘n’ Burp™, signs are everywhere.
Sometimes, they’re so ubiquitous that we become overwhelmed and fail to see even the signs we need to see.
Advent is a season of waiting, a season of looking, searching for the perfect gift. We look for signs, whether it’s to yield to traffic or to find the store we want to shop in.
Ironically – or maybe not – the greatest sign is already among us. So is the most perfect gift.
“All right, then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (Isaiah 7.14, NLT).
That prophecy has come to pass. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he lived and undertook his ministry, he died to atone for our sins, and rose again to bring us eternal life. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to pray for us. And he gave us his Holy Spirit, so that he would continue to live in us and through us.
The sign is before us. The gift is within us. Look no further!