Monday, January 22, 2018

Collision Week 2 - We Are Adopted

Quick question, what is your favorite Christmas movie? I have two, the original Miracle on 34th Street, and the Muppets Christmas Carol. Both I find extremely funny, and both deal with the same themes. Those themes are faith, helping others and change. Now, most Christmas movies have at their heart a redemption story. A story that seeks to change a main character into something better, by helping them see past the things of this world and focus on what really matters.
In Miracle on 34th street, Fred says to Doris, “Look Doris, someday you're going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn't work. And when you do, don't overlook those lovely intangibles. You'll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.”
But why is it? Why do our Christmas stories have these themes of faith, helping others, and change? I believe it’s because of the collision that happened 2,000 years ago, when heaven collide with earth. When the God of creation took on human flesh to walk among his creation. It’s because of that moment of impact, that we are still feeling the effects today. And one of those effects, are our Christmas movies.

Last week in our Collision at Christmas sermon series, we talked about Mary. The obscure virgin girl, engaged to a man, who accept the weight of bringing God into this world. We talked about how Mary accepted the reality that when she was found to be with child, that she could very well be killed. Or at the very least shunned by her community, living the rest of her life in poverty. And we talked about how God uses the obscure things of this world to show his greatness.
She accepted her role in the grand work of God, and today we are still feeling the effects of her decision. God can uses you and I today, because Mary stepped out in faith and was used 2,000 years ago.

This bring us to the next part of the Christmas Collision, where we meet a man named Jospeh. And just like last week, we’re still waiting for the storm to break. We’re all in the lead up to the full Collision of heaven meeting earth, of God colliding with humanity. This next part of the story comes in Matthew chapter 1, starting in verse 18. So if you have your Bibles, you can open up the Matthew 1, verse 18. 

As we get into Jospeh’s collision story, we’re going to be referring back to Mary, showing the difference between the two. So, let’s dive into Matthew 1, verse 18.

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Let’s hold on for a second, I don’t know about you, but if I were Jospeh, I would be livid. I mean think about it, he finds out his soon to be wife is pregnant. I don’t know how Mary presented this to everyone, but if you ever get a chance to watch the Nativity movie that came out a few years back, I think they nailed Jospeh’s reaction. In the movie, he’s standing with Mary’s father and when she walks in with her pregnant belly, that cannot be hidden, his face just drops. I mean, how would you react? But let’s take a moment and think about who Jospeh is. 
We know from the passage that he was faithful to the law. This idea of being faithful to the law, means he was a zealot for it. In other words, Jospeh was a man who took the law very seriously. When Mary reveals to him that she is pregnant, I can just imagine the thoughts that were going through his head.
Things like: I gave your family the mohar, the betrothal gift that sealed you to me. A monetary gift that took me years to save up for. I have kept myself sexually pure for you. I have been working to prepare a home for us. And you go out and get knocked up?
Jospeh had done everything right. He went through the process of working to get enough money to give to Mary’s family to help them survive with the absence of their daughter. He had gone through the customary waiting period that was given to him by Mary’s father. Jospeh had done everything that was required of him by both God’s law and tradition to marry this girl, and now, she was tainted. And the only excuse she could give for this pregnancy is that God’s spirit put the baby inside her.
I’m sure at that point Jospeh was thinking: Really? You want to bring God into this? You want to bring a holy God into your unholy act of betrayal?
But, Jospeh either was able to overcome his anger, or he is a way better man than I would be in that situation, because he decides to end the whole thing. and he decides to do it quietly. He doesn’t want someone to die, but he doesn’t want to take on the responsibility of raising a child that isn’t his. Nor does he want the social repercussion from it. So he decides to end it and move on, without making a big deal about it.

But that’s not the end of the story. Let’s pick it up again in verse 20.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

So Joseph decides to move forward with his plan to end the whole affair and move on, but then something happens to him, he has a dream. Now let’s not take this lightly, because Jospeh didn’t. Dreams a very important factor within Middle Eastern cultures.

In the Jewish Talmud, which is a collection of Rabbinical teachings and interpretations of the Old Testament, dreams are said to be one-sixtieth of prophecy. And that dreams that are left uninterpreted are the same as leaving a letter unread. In the Muslim religion, dreams are seen as direct communication with Allah. Muslims will ask Allah to direct them in life through a dream, to which they will change their entire life to follow the dream. This was the case for the Muslim turned Christian apologist named Nabeel, who sought God in a dream while he was struggling to accept Jesus as his Savior.
So for Jospeh, this dream was monumental. And what was contained in the dream led him to the place where God wanted him. 
So what do we learn from this dream? Well, we learn that Jospeh was fearful to take Mary as his wife. Most likely because of the social ramifications that would eventually come. But I don’t think that was the only fear he had. I mean think about it, here’s a guy that is suppose to be getting married to this girl, and from the get go, he’s already going to be a dad. The fear of fatherhood is something a lot of men experience. And to top it all off, the kid isn’t even his. So not only does Jospeh have to face the social repercussions this is going to bring, not only is he going to be a dad right out of the gate, he has to be a father to a child that isn’t even his. Jospeh has a lot to fear. 
And it’s here that we see the parallel with Mary, she too was afraid. Both these people God is calling to be the family to the Son, were afraid.

But the angel goes on. The angel confirms that Mary didn’t just get knocked up, but her story is true, that the child is truly from God. Well at least that’s a load off Joseph's mind. At least she didn’t betray him right? A little help with the fear. Just like the angel gave a little assurance to alleviate Mary’s fear.
And then the angel drops a bomb, this isn’t an ordinary baby, this is the Savior of the world. God himself in the womb of Mary. In other words, the angel is telling Joseph you have a choice, you can follow your fear and let Mary go; this will lead her into destitute and poverty. Which means you are allowing God on earth to experience that life. Or you can raise this child as your son, and face the sneers and jeers of society, but knowing that this is part of God’s work.

Finally Jospeh awakes and makes the decision to participate in the work of God. To push aside his fear and walk in the path that God laid out for him.

I have to tell you, out of the entire Christmas story, this is my favorite part. You know why? Because I have learned to identify with Jospeh. I now know what it means to take a child that is not mine, and have them be mine. I understand what it means to push aside fear, to walk the path that God has for me. True my kids are not the saviors of the world, and if Jesus was like my kids, he wouldn’t be either. But luckily for us, he isn’t. But this collision that Joseph experiences, shows us just who God is.

God is the god of adoption. He is the God who brings those who are not his into his family. In Jewish law, the proclamation of adoption meant that a child was now a part of the family. Time and time again throughout the Old Testament, God proclaims Israel to be his children. And in this one moment, God calls Jospeh to walk in the path of adoption. To follow his example, no matter what the world may say. And because Jospeh put his fear aside, and followed God down this path, you and I can experience adoption today.

My parents have a neighbor name Louie. He is an older hispanic man, who loves to talk with my dad. I’ve only met him a couple of times, but a while back, after one of our visits, my dad told me about a conversation he had with Louie. After we had left, Louie came by the house and asked about my children. My dad told him that we had adopted them. Now if you haven’t seen our kids, their hispanic, and, well, Marika and are not. That might surprise some of you, but that’s the truth. When Louie found out that we, a white couple had adopted hispanic children, he was stunned. He told my dad, how great that was, that a white family would take in another race’s kids.

When I read about God’s adoption, I am just as surprise as Louie. I look at myself, and I look at God and I say, how can you adopt this. To which God replies, because I desire to. God’s desire is to adopt you and I into his family. And it was the Collision of Christmas that made this possible. When Jospeh put his fear aside to adopt Jesus, it opened the path for God to adopt us.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John it is put this way, “12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

And Paul says it like this in Romans 8:14-15, “14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

The Collision of Christmas is simple, God wants us to be his adoptive children, and through Joseph’s agreement to adopt Jesus as his earthy father, God’s path of adoption for us was opened.

All we have to do is accept it. We have to accept who Jesus is. That he was God come to earth, to take all of our sin, those things that we do that are not what God wants from us. We need to accept that Jesus took that sin to the cross, and killed it there. When we accept what Jesus has done on our behalf, we can become adopted into God’s family, and now can experience him in this life and into eternity.

If you have not experienced the collision of Christmas is your life, today’s the day to do it. I would love to talk to you after the service about experiencing the Collision of being adopted into God’s family, and what comes next.

But as we end I want to give you a challenge. We’ve been talking about adoption today, and how it is God’s way of bringing us into his family. But not all of us are called to adopt someone, especially at some of our ages. Instead, my challenge is this: find an organization that deals, in some way, with adoption. Compassion International, Hope International, etc. When you have found an organization that you feel led to, adopt them in prayer. You don't need to adopt a child, but instead, adopt the whole organization for prayer. Pray that God will use them, that God will provide funds for them, that God will provide families for them. 
       Let us be God’s people this Christmas season, a people who recognize our adoption, and share it with others.

       Now may the God who has adopted us through his Son Jesus show you a deeper understanding of his adoption of you, and may you be used in his adoption process. Amen.

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