Christmas Eve Communion Meditation
Well here we are a few moments away from yet another Christmas Day. It has been a marathon run for some of you. Some of you have been buying presents all year long and others started on the day after Thanksgiving. Some of us have decided that shopping in person is not all that much fun when you can shop online in your pajamas, in the comfort of your home at any hour you wish to.
By now your presents are hopefully wrapped, your dinner for tomorrow is planned and you have already encountered and embraced family and friends. There will be surprises and laughter as you sit around the house remembering and telling stories on each other. You may play some games, eat some cookies and then some more cookies, and all in all it will feel like Christmas is supposed to feel.
That was a nice and tidy little description of a picture perfect Christmas. The reality is that many people will not have that kind of a day. There are people today in hospitals and nursing homes. There are folks in funeral homes dealing with the death of a loved one. There are people that will be alone today. There will be no family. There will be no big meal or platters of cookies. There are people in jail today separated from family and friends. There will be people today looking for a fix because they cant seem to overcome their addiction.
Poverty, grief and addictions; Sound familiar? Remember what Jesus said when He read from the book of Isaiah as He began His ministry:
Spirit of the LORD is
upon Me, Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me
to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; Luke 4:18 NKJV
He came to set at liberty those who are oppressed.
On this Christmas Eve I want to assure you that Jesus knows where you are. He knows the circumstances surrounding your life. He didn't come to earth so that we might have Christmas or celebrate with all the good things that we like to do this time of year. He came to give us life. He came to proclaim that this is a new day. It is a day of forgiveness and hope. It is a day of starting over and being free.
There is a part of this reading that Jesus did that I have left out because I didn't have time to explain it but listen to these words.
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the
poor; He has sent Me to heal
the brokenhearted, To
proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
What in the world it the acceptable year of the Lord?
The most unusual observance that God commanded the Israelites through Moses was the keeping of the Year of Jubilee. For most people this celebration occurred only once in their lifetime, and for many not even that, as it occurred only once every 50 years.
At this year of jubilee all Israelites who had sold themselves into slavery were set free, and all land that had been sold reverted to its original owner. This meant that no Israelite could ever be in permanent slavery; nor could any Israelite permanently lose his inheritance.
Verses 8 to 55 of Leviticus 25 describe the year of jubilee. The first few verses are as follows: Count off seven Sabbaths of years -- seven times seven years -- so that the seven Sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.
Like the day of Pentecost, the year of jubilee is a Sabbath of Sabbaths. It is a special year among special years. Its climax was the great Day of Atonement What happened then on this momentous once-in-a-lifetime occasion? Trumpets were sounded throughout the land of Israel, and 2 amazing things took place.
All Hebrews slaves were set free.
All land returned to its original owner or owners family.
We cannot understand the full impact of this without knowing its historical background. For more than 80 years before the Exodus, the Israelites had been slaves in the land of Egypt, without freedom and without possessions. When they reached the land of Canaan, Joshua divided the land among their tribes and their families, so that each had his own inheritance. Every adult male among them became a land owner. This land was a permanent possession that could never depart from his family. If a man became poor he could sell part or all of his land, but only temporarily. It would always revert to him or his descendants at the year of jubilee. If he became even poorer and was unable to pay his debts, he could sell himself into slavery, and work to pay off his debts. Again that slavery could only ever be temporary. When the great Day of Atonement in the year of jubilee came he became a free man once again and repossessed his inheritance.
Listen very carefully. Since Jesus Christ came to this earth and declared His ministry every year has been a jubilee year. In fact, every day is a jubilee day if we make it so by putting our faith in Christ.
Tonight we celebrate and remember not so much a baby in a manger but a Savior on a cross. Well maybe not so much a Savior on a cross as much as an empty tomb that proves Jesus Christ is who He said He was.
He lives that we might have life.
He lives what we might have forgiveness.
He lives so that we can experience power over sin.
He lives to preach the good news to the poor.
He lives to bind up the broken hearted
He lives to set the captive free
He lives to cause the blind to see
He lives to set at liberty the oppressed
This evening we invite you to the Lords Table. It is here that you can find Him as you reflect on His grace and love for you.
It is at this table that we acknowledge what Jesus came to earth to do. He came to offer us salvation and a relationship with Him. I said a relationship with Him. That's more than a wink and a nod and an hour on Sunday. Its more than using Him as a cosmic vending machine that provides you with answers to prayer whenever you push His buttons.
God longs to be in a daily relationship with you; one that will make a difference in how you live and how you relate to other people. He came to make a difference in your life on this earth. Why not use this time to realign your life for the coming new year?
Instructions for communion