Dec 24, 2017 – A Birth to Celebrate
Sermon not recorded.
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Phillipians 2:1-11 (ESV)
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What we celebrate at Christmas (v7) is far more profound than we typically recognize.
I) We celebrate a person.
- Jesus’ greatness goes beyond what he did or how he was perceived (vv6-7)
II) We celebrate an event.
- the incarnation (vv7-8) – a deep mystery, but we are to discern humility as a chief aspect of it
- Jesus: count others (v3) vs. count equality with God a thing to be grasped (v6)
III) We celebrate a calling.
- the pattern of loving others (by looking to their interest) reshapes our lives around joy (its pursuit and its presence), a new mindset (vv1-5)
Questions for Reflection
- What strikes you most about Jesus? What do you find most interesting, compelling, attractive, or even easiest to understand or relate to (about him)?
- How do you understand the claim that Jesus is human and divine? Are you comfortable with whatever your grasp on that is? Is your view in line with what the church has framed as the way to speak about it (in the Nicene Creed and council of Chalcedon)?
- How can considering the incarnation (Jesus, the eternal Son of God, taking on flesh) expand your understanding of the mystery we celebrate at Christmas?
- In what ways would Jesus being born be a step of humility? How does the term “humiliation” help us understand his earthly life (birth to death)?
- Jesus put others before his own honor and reputation (and their rewards). What challenges are there for your doing this? How can you discern when (or how) to pursue honor, and when to let it go for other things?
- How can you be more consistent in looking to the interests of others? What about your mindset needs to change or grow to be able to make this more fully who you are and how you behave towards others?
Prayer of Confession
Our God and Father, we confess we are people who rarely celebrate. Because our minds cannot fathom who you are, or comprehend the very being of Jesus, we more easily withdraw in unbelief and cynicism than bow in reverence and awe. We are more ready to question your care of us than to recognize the extent to which Jesus loved and put us before his own honor and recognition. We grasp power and prestige, leading with selfish ambition and failing to have regard others. Forgive our sin and folly, and give us eyes this season to see the profound good news announced by angels and received by the humble, that Jesus Christ our savior was born to free us from our sin. May all honor and glory go to him, and may we experience joy in giving it to him. Amen.