Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"A Place at the Table" - Doug Rehberg

In 1999 Dean Kamen founded a company in Bedford, New Hampshire to build a new transportation device. Two years later it was unveiled on Good Morning America, called “the Segway” or the “Segway Personal Transporter”.

You’ve probably seen them being used by big city police forces. Or you may remember when President George W. Bush did a face plant as he was riding one. The concept is simple. It lives up to its name. The Segway moves a person, or now a robot, from place to place without the passenger having to expend much energy.

It’s the perfect name because Segway comes from the common word “segue” which means to transition from one thing to another smoothly and without interruptions. In fact, segue comes from the Latin word “sequor” which means “to follow”. Thus, a non-sequitur means something which does not follow.

I say all of this to introduce what I will be preaching over the next three worship experiences at Hebron – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. What I’m hoping you will see in each of these messages: “Seeing What Most Miss”, “A Place at the Table”, and “Having New Years E.A.R.S.” is a clear and effortless connection to our study of Galatians. What Matthew, Luke, and John tell us in each of the preaching texts fits seamlessly with what Paul tells the Galatians in both halves of his letter.

It’s been a treat for me to try to juggle the Galatians series with the Christmas narratives. What I’ve found is there’s no juggling needed. Everything fits as a unified whole. In fact, as the full scope of the Christmas narratives can’t be understood without the Passion Narratives (i.e. Jesus’ last days), you can’t fully appreciate what Paul tells the Galatians without seeing the segue between Jesus’ birth and death. It’s these segues that will be the focus over the next week and a half.

In preparation for each message you may wish to consider the following:

Christmas Eve: “Seeing What Most Miss” Matthew 2:1-11

  1. How do the wise men illustrate the power of divine grace?
  2. What similarities exist between the wise men and their behavior and a Christian’s walk with Christ?
  3. How do the wise men prove that spiritual sight is all God’s doing?
  4. How is their obedience to divine revelation instructive for living the Christian life?

Christmas Day: “A Place at the Table”

  1. How do Jesus’ words in Luke 22:15,16 capture the essence of Christmas?
  2. How does Jesus replace the altar with the table?
  3. What parallels can you draw between the tabernacle’s description in Exodus 25:10-30 and the Last Supper and the Cross?
  4. How is religion defined by an altar and the Gospel defined as a table?
  5. How is Jesus’ finished work the end of the law as Paul says in Galatians?

New Years Day: “Having New Years E.A.R.S.” John 1:1-18

  1. How can we tell that John’s Gospel is the last to be written?
  2. What conclusions are being made about Jesus in John’s description of the Incarnation.
  3. What four doctrines can you find in John’s account of Jesus’ birth that are fleshed out in Paul’s letter to the Galatians? (Hint: Each doctrine is hinted at in our title – E.A.R.S.)
  4. How does John 1:1-18 get us right back to Galatians 4?
I hope to see all of you on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"A Broken Hallelujah" - Scott Parsons

My wife and daughters love the Nutcracker. They have seen it several times and get excited anytime a new version or rendition comes out. It is a yearly tradition in our family. Unfortunately, I find the Nutcracker to be dreadfully boring and a waste of time. I actually think I have made a reasonable attempt to like it. I even took Kim to New York to see the New York Ballet Company perform it. It was apparently well done. Kim really enjoyed it. I experienced a good nap after intermission. I know I ought to like and enjoy it. I just don’t. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand it, or don’t enjoy ballet, but for whatever reason I just can’t get into it. 

I know that many people feel the same way about Christmas in general. The reality of Christmas is great and glorious, but our personal experience never measures up to our expectations. Most people who struggle with Christmas treat it like I do the Nutcracker…you know you ought to like and enjoy it, but you just don’t. So usually the solution is to avoid it as much as possible but work to have a good attitude about it when you can’t.

I think part of the problem is that many of us have unwittingly traded the biblical view of Christmas for a cultural one. We glamorize and sanitize Christmas to the point that the true reality of Christmas gets lost. The coming of Jesus was neither glamorous nor exciting. The reality was harsh and difficult. The problems and struggles that the participants of the Luke 2 narrative were going through did not go away because of the events of that night. And yet, the angel claims to bring the shepherds a message of good news that will bring them great joy. Maybe part of our struggle to find joy at Christmas is that we have begun to focus on personal or cultural expectations of Christmas rather than the good news that Jesus actually came to bring. I would encourage you to carefully read through Luke 2:1-20 prior to Sunday, and then ask Jesus to prepare your heart to be challenged and encouraged by the good news that is truly Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"What's in a Name?" - Doug Rehberg

Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy was the second most senior member of the Senate of the United States when he died in 2009. He was also the fourth longest-serving Senator in the history of this country.

In November of 1962 Ted Kennedy was elected in a special election held to fill the seat his brother vacated to become the 35th President of the United States. And it was a few months before the beginning of that Senate run when a famous exchange occurred at the Kennedy compound in Palm Beach, Florida.

JFK, RFK, and their father, Joe, were sitting around discussing Teddy’s future. Teddy really didn’t like the odds of running for the seat against fellow Democrat Edward “Eddie” McCormack, Jr. His main concern was that his name would be a liability. He felt that the people of Massachusetts would think he was simply trying to capitalize on his sibling’s glory. And, according to one source, he felt that he needed to change his name to run a fair race.

So his brother, the President, asks, “What name are you going to ask for?” “Well,” Teddy said, “I think I’ll keep my first name. After all, I’m used to responding to it. But for the last name I think I’d like Roosevelt.”

This week we are in Matthew, chapter one where the writer, at the outset, features forty-eight names. Now much has been made of the significance of this genealogy and the others found in Scripture. Much has been made of the fact that both Matthew and Luke open with one. But for our purposes this Sunday, it’s only the last name in this genealogy that matters.

For the last fourteen weeks we’ve been studying Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and throughout we’ve seen the prominence of Jesus’ name. In fact, the glorious Gospel itself is predicated on the name of Jesus. But this Sunday we want to examine four particular aspects of Jesus’ name that are first uttered by the angel who speaks to Joseph in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Someone has said that if every annunciation of Christ was thoroughly examined and understood, the life and mission of Jesus would be far more easily apprehended. That’s what we are going to seek to do this Sunday. This is the third Sunday of Advent (which means “coming”) and we will examine the angel’s announcement to Joseph. Interestingly, it’s a message that is totally consistent with Advent, for it speaks not only of the reason for Christ’s first coming, but His second  as well.

In preparation for Sunday’s message, “What’s in a Name?” you may wish to consider the following:
  1. Read Matthew 1:18-25 and Joshua 1:1-9
  2. What is the relationship between Joshua and Jesus?
  3. Why does the angel address Joseph as the son of David?
  4. What do the names: Joseph, David, Joshua, and Arden mean?
  5. How is God’s view of Joseph as David’s son, rather than the son of Jacob, consistent with the rest of the angel’s message?
  6. What are the similarities and the differences between Joshua and Jesus?
  7. What are the similarities and differences in the deliverance both men offer?
  8. What does the angel’s message in verse 21 mean?
  9. How does God’s message to Paul in Acts 18:10 mirror the angel’s message to Joseph in verse 21?
  10. How does the angel’s message take away the root of all fear?
See you Sunday!