Sunday, 30 December 2018

I.               Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6: Above you the glory of the Lord appears.
II. Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3.5-6: It has now been revealed that pagans share the same inheritance.
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12: We saw his star and have come to do the king homage.
Jesus’ Acknowledgement as King by Wise Men or Magi:
An Unexpected Worship.
The Feast of the Epiphany we are celebrating today is the oldest feast in the Church after Easter and Pentecost. It has been celebrated long before the Christmas was; it took the place of Christmas many years, since the birth of Jesus was one among the various events remembered on this day by the early church. The word “Epiphany” in Greek means “Manifestation”, that is, the clear appearing of something or of one, unknown to us before.
Today we celebrate the unknown one (JESUS) who has made us known himself to all of us.
The purpose of the Epiphany is: To praise God because Christ has made himself known to people for what he really is: The Son of God and our Saviour.
The wise men (magi) are a picture of those who seek Jesus.  As they sought him, events totally unexpected happened time and again. This is usually the case with those who seek Jesus. But God is faithful.  If a person truly seeking Jesus, God takes the unexpected events and works them out for good (Rom 8:28). God leads the person to Jesus regardless of circumstances and events, expected or unexpected.
1.    The unexpected Saviour: Jesus was born in Bethlehm (v.1)
a.    In the days of king Herod
b.    Magi came seeking him
2.    Their unexpected question: Where is the new born king? (v.2)
a.    The unusual journey from the east
b.    Their purpose: to worship
3.    Their unexpected disturbance (v.3-6)
a.    Disturbed all the people in Jerusalem
b.    Disturbed Herod: he misconceived a threat
c.     Disturbed the religionists
i.                Herod quizzed them
ii.              They had ignored the Scripture (until now)
4.    Their unexpected commission: having to search for the new born king (v.7-8)
a.    Their testimony: the star
b.    Their commission: to go-search-find
5.    Their unexpected sign: the star guided them again (v.9-10)
6.    Their unexpected king: a humbled child in humble surroundings (v.11)
a.    They found him in a house
b.    They gave Jesus worship not to the king Herod neither they obeyed Herod’s command rather they obeyed God’s command
c.     They gave him gifts( gold for the kingship of Jesus, incense for the divinity of Jesus and myrrh for the humanity of Jesus)
Our whole life is a continuous Epiphany: Jesus goes on manifesting himself to us at all times.
Thought: God’s ways are not man’s way (1Cor 1:26-31). The newborn king is not a humanistic Saviour. He is God’s Saviour who has come in God’s way (Phil 2:7-8; 2Cor 8:9).

7 January
I. Reading: 1John 5:14-21: Whatever we may ask, he hears us.
Gospel: John 2:1-12: This was the first of the sign given by Jesus: It was given at Cana in Galilee.
Revelation: Creative Power: Sign (God takes initiative to act/make miracle)
After the epiphany-the appearance or manifestation of God on earth/world shows the true kingship of Jesus in the world as against the king Herod. This was the first miraculous sign Jesus performed. It demonstrated His very purpose for coming to earth: to reveal the creative power of God. He had the power to create or to make (parallel to Genesis 1: 1f) and produce what was needed to meet human’s need.
1.    A wedding in Cana of Galilee (v.1-2)
a.    Time: third day
b.    Mary attended: invitation is very important otherwise there won’t be a miracle
c.     Jesus and the disciples attended
2.    The concern of Jesus’ creative power (v.3-5) parallel to Gen 1:1f.
a.    Mary’s social concern
b.    Jesus’ deeper concern: To meet man’s spiritual need
c.     Mary’s confidence in her Son
3.    The revelation of Jesus’ creative power (v.6-8)
a.    The materials: Water Jars-used for cleansing and quenching thirst
b.    The command: Prepare/fill the jars
c.     The obedience: They drew water and experience the creative power of Jesus
4.    The results of Jesus’ creative power (v.9-11)
a.    People’s needs were met
b.    Christ’s glory was revealed
c.     The disciples’ faith was strengthened
Thought: Jesus honoured marriage by attending the wedding feast and by meeting the urgent need of the bridegroom. He graced and blessed the marriage because he was the wedding. So invitation to Jesus and Mary and disciples of Jesus is very important to see the creative power of God and the miracle of Jesus Christ.

6 January
I. Reading: 1John 5:5-13: There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the Water and the blood.
Gospel: Mark 1:6-11:You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.
Jesus Christ and His Baptism: A Decision for God (Mark 1:9-11)
Jesus’ baptism pictures what happened when a person makes a decision for God.
1.    There is a decision for God and submission to God (v.9):
A total surrender to God’s Will & Mission:
i.                The sacrifice of all that Jesus had in Nazareth.
ii.              A sacrifice of a long earthly life. By choosing the mission of God, he was to be killed in only thirty-six months.
iii.            The sacrifice of His Godly righteousness, He was to become the sin-bearer for the world (Justification - Rom 5:1; 1Pet 2:21-24).
iv.            The sacrifice of God’s presence. In death, God was to forsake Him (Mt 27:46-49).
v.              By being baptized Jesus was leaving Nazareth and surrendering totally to God’s will and mission to save the world by His death on the cross.
2.    There is a beginning and an identification with God and His people (v.9)
3.    There is a commissioning and empowering (v.10)
4.    There is the approval and encouragement of God (v.11)
Thought: The decision to follow Jesus is a momentous decision. It involves the total surrender of all we are and have which means self-sacrifice until death with a joyful life following Christ the Lord.

5 January
I. Reading: 1John 3:11-21: We have passed out of death and into life because we love our brothers.
Gospel: John 1:43-51: You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.
Jesus the One Prophesied: The Witness of Philip (Jn 1:43-45)
Philip’s discovery and witness of Jesus Christ was unmistakable. Jesus was the One prophesied in Scripture; He was the promised Messiah.
1.    Philip’s experience (v.43-44)
a.    He was sought by Jesus personally
b.    He was called by Jesus personally
c.     The reason: Philip knew Andrew and Peter
2.    Philip’s first concern: Nathanael (v.45)
3.    Philip’s conviction: Jesus was the one prophesied (v.45)
Jesus the Son of God, the King of Israel: The Witness of Nathanael (1:46-49)
Nathanael’s confrontation with Jesus was dramatic. Nathanael was a man of prejudice and strong feelings. Yet he knew despair and hopelessness; therefore, he was difficult to lead to Christ. However, despite all, his friend Philip persisted and refused to give up in witnessing to him. As a result, Nathanael was won to Christ.
1.    Nathanael’s experience (v.46)
a.    A man of despair and prejudice
b.    Invited to follow Jesus despite prejudice
2.    Nathanael’s confrontation with Jesus (v.47-48)
a.    Jesus knew him: his belief and character
b.    Jesus knew his innermost being-all things about him
3.    Nathanael’s conviction: Jesus was the Son of God (v.49)
Jesus the Son of God, God’s Mediator: The Witness of Jesus himself (1:50-51)
Jesus bore witness to himself. He clearly declared who he was.
1.    Nathanael’s experience (v.46-49)
2.    The revelation of God, the One who reveals greater things (v.50): Jesus was the revelation of God.
3.    The Mediator (v.51): Jesus is the Mediator between God and people.
4.    The Son of God (v.51): Jesus Christ is the Ideal man (cf. Mt 1:16; Jn 1:14; Col 2:9-10; Heb 1:3): the representative man, the perfect man, the pattern, the embodiment of everything a man ought to be in God’s plan for world history. (cf. Daniel 7:13-14; 1Cor 15:45-47)
Thought: A man or woman can approach God and enter heaven through Christ (Jn 14:6)

4 January
I. Reading: 1John 3:7-10: He cannot sin when he has been begotten by God.
Gospel: John 1:35-42: We have found the Messiah.

Jesus the Messiah, the Christ: The Witness of Andrew

This was Andrew’s discovery of Jesus. He discovered that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ (Mk 3:18 for more discussion).
1.    Andrew’s experience (v.35-37)
a.    He stood in the midst of John the Baptist’s preaching
b.    He heard John proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God (the victorious Lamb won over sin and death- Rev 5-7, the sin offering lamb-Is 53:7; Ex 12-the Pascal Lamb).
c.     He followed Jesus
2.    Andrew’s critical hour (v.38-39)
a.    Jesus turned: Symbol of initiative
b.    Jesus asked the basic question of life: What do you want?
c.     Jesus extended an invitation: Come
3.    Andrew’s great decision: He went and saw Christ and remained with Christ (v.39-40)
4.    Andrew’s first concern: His brother (v.41)
5.    Andrew’s conviction: Jesus was the Messiah (v.41)
6.    Andrew’s fruits: Simon was brought to Jesus and was reaped (v.42)
i.                A person must stand where the Word, Christ himself is preached.
ii.              A person must hear the Word, the announcement: the Lamb of God has come to take away the sin of the world.
iii.            A person must follow Jesus.
iv.            If a person doesn’t stand with Jesus and doesn’t hear the Word of God, will miss Christ in life.

3 January
I. Reading: 1John 2:29-3:6: Anyone who lives in God does not sin.
Gospel: John 1: 29-34: Look, there is the Lamb of God.
Jesus the Lamb of God, the Son of God:
The Third Witness of John the Baptist.
John’s witness about Jesus Christ is one of the greatest witnesses ever given by man. John was unmistakeable in his proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ (Lk 4:18-19).
1.    Christ the Lamb of God (v. 29)
2.    Christ the preeminent One (v. 30-31)
a.    He was before John: Pre-existent
b.    John did not know Him, only that He was to come
3.    Christ is the Messiah, the One upon whom the Spirit of God remained (v. 32-33)
4.    Christ is the Son of God (v. 34)

Thought: Christ is the Preeminent and the Eternal God. Believers must follow the example of John the Baptist to declare that Christ is before all. When a person is baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ, the Holy Spirit enters the life of the believer and becomes a permanent experience of the believer.

2 January
I. Reading: 1John 2:22-28: Keep alive in yourself what you were taught in the beginning.
Gospel: John 1:19-28: One is coming after me who existed before me.
Jesus the Messiah, the Lord: The Second Witness of John the Baptist:

The witness of John the Baptist is a dynamic example of every servant of God.
1.    John was questioned by religionists who were suspicious of him.
2.    He was a man who knew who he was.
a.    He was not the Christ
b.    He was not Elijah
c.     He was not “the prophet”
3.    He was only a voice-only a forerunner for the Lord.
4.    He was a baptizer
a.    The questioners were the Pharisees
b.    They questioned John’s right to baptize
5.    He was an unworthy servant.
6.    He was a man who brought honour to a place.

Thought: A servant of God who is faithful in his witness and ministry like John will bring honour to a place. In God’s eyes a place is honoured because believers are there (Genesis 18: 16f).

1 January: New Year’s Day:
Solemnity of Mary,
Mother of God
I. Reading: Numbers 6:22-27: They are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.
II. Reading: Galatians 4:4-7: God sent His Son, born of a woman.
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21: They found Mary and Joseph and the babe...When the eight day came, they gave him the name Jesus.
On this first day of the New Year, we gather as one family to celebrate the feast and solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God who is also the mother of the Church and of all. There are three main reasons to celebrate today:
i.                To honour Mary, for having been chosen to be the Mother of God.
ii.              To ask for God’s blessings throughout the year that starts today.
iii.            To pray to God peace in the world.
We see words of blessings in the first reading. God has been blessing us so we need to bless our children and people in the name of God. In the second reading, God has blessed us by giving his own Son Jesus in the appointed time (kairos=fullness of time/grace-filled) to set free the humankind from the slavery of sins, death and all corruptions.  Mary gave us Jesus and Jesus gave us Mary to be our Mother, as Jesus taught “the Our Father...” he also thought us “Our Mother.” So let us call and honour Mary our Heavenly Mother who gave birth to the redeemer. The Gospel is proclaiming the Good News of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem who is the king of Peace to save the world.
This New Year is God’s precious gift to us who invites us to work for peace throughout the world in this present violence and conflicts. Let us bear in mind that peace too is the gift of Jesus to us: “Peace I give you, my own peace I give you” (Jn 14:27). Only by keeping Christ’s peace in our hearts shall become the peacemakers in the world. Peace within us and peace around us should be our programme throughout the New Year.

Wishing you A Happy New Year & God’s Peace & Joy!

31 December
I Reading: 1Jn 2:18-21: You have been anointed by the Holy One and have all received the knowledge.
Gospel: John 1:1-18: The Word was made flesh.
A.   Jesus the Living Word: The First Witness of John the Baptist (Jn 1:1-5)
This passage is the one of the summit of Scripture. Jesus Christ, the Son of God is...
·       The Word of God
·       The Creator of life
·       The Very Being and Essence of Life
These three thoughts we need to understand their meaning. If Jesus Christ is the Word of God, then people must hear and understand that Word or else be lost forever in ignorance of God Himself.
1.    Christ is Eternal (v.1-2)
a.    Pre-existence
b.    Co-existence
c.     Self-existence
2.    Christ is the Creator (v.3)
a.    Positive statement
b.    Absolute statement
3.    Christ is life (v.4-5)
a.    The source of life
b.    The answer to darkness
i.                Shines in darkness
ii.              Conquers darkness

B.   Jesus the Light of the World: The Special Witness of John the Baptist (Jn 1:6-8)
John’s role sole purpose on earth was to witness and bear testimony to the Light of the world. It is a dynamic example for every believer. The purpose of the believer is to bear the same witness as John: Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.
1.    A man sent from God (v.6)
2.    A man with a mission (v.7)
a.    To bear witness
b.    That men might believe
3.    A man who was great, but was not the Light (v.7).

C.   Jesus the Light of Men: The Second Witness of John the Apostle (Jn 1:9-13)
The world is in desperate straits. It is full of darkness-the darkness of sin and despair, of sickness and death, of corruption and hell. The darkness looms over the whole world. This is the problem dealt with in the present passage. There is hope in Jesus Christ, for Christ is the True Light, and light dispels darkness.
1.    Christ was the Light (v.9)
a.    The True Light
b.    His mission: to give light to the people
2.    Christ was tragically rejected by the world (v. 10-11)
a.    He was in the world, but he was rejected
b.    He came to his own people, but they rejected him
3.    Christ was wonderfully received by some (v. 12-13)
a.    How: by believing
b.    Result: became sons of God
c.     The source of becoming a child of God: a new birth
i.                Was not of man
ii.              Was of God

D.   Jesus the Word Made Flesh: The Third Witness of John the Apostles (Jn 1: 14-18)

“The Word became flesh”-God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was made flesh and blood; He became a man. No greater message could ever be proclaimed to man.
1.    Jesus Christ, Incarnation: Christ became flesh (v. 14):
The incarnation did take place. He came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. The word “flesh” (sarx) is the same word that Paul used to describe man’s nature with all its weakness and tendency to sin (1Cor 3:1-4; 15:42-44; Rom 5: 12-21; 8:1f; 2Pet 1:4 etc). This is a staggering thought. Jesus Christ is God-fully God, yet Jesus Christ is a man-fully man (cf 1Jn 4:2-3). Jesus Christ (the Word) became flesh to correct and to counteract the corruption of flesh (2Pet 1:4; 1Pet 1:18-19, 23-25; Jn 3:16). He became flesh in order to become “a life giving spirit”, the Saviour who could quicken and make alive all those who would trust Him (1Cor 15:45; 1Pet 3:18; Rom 8: 11 Eph 2: 4-5).
2.    Proof 1: the first proof of the incarnation is that Jesus Christ dwelt visibly among us (v.14)
a.    His glory (shekinah) which means that which dwells or dwelling- bright clouds-OT. Ex 40:34-38)  was seen
b.    Full of grace and truth
3.    Proof 2: the second proof of the incarnation is John the Baptist bore witness of the superiority of Christ (v.15)
4.    Proof 3: the third proof of the incarnation is the fullness and grace of Christ which was given to us. Men have received the fullness and grace of Christ
a.    Not by law
b.    By Jesus Christ
5.    Proof 4: the fourth proof of the incarnation of Christ- God’s Son alone has seen God (v. 18)
Thought: The message is Christ, the Light of the World.