This year as I prepare for Advent, I'm reading Adam Hamilton's book Incarnation: Rediscovering The Significance of Christmas.
This book caught my attention because I believe this Advent & Christmas season we need a reminder of WHY Jesus came to earth. Adam says, "His parents called him Jesus. But the prophets, shepherds, wise men, and angels addressed him by other names --including Messiah, Savior, and Emmanuel."
Together we are going to explore the meaning behind these titles, using Adam's book as a jumping off point in our exploration!
I encourage you to read Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:8-15.
Plan to join us this Sunday morning at 10:30 am or anytime on our website redoakpresbyterianchurch.com
Questions to Ponder:
1. When we dive into the stories of Christmas in the Bible, we hear Jesus called Savior again and again. In your opinion, how prominently do Christmas celebrations in the church and in our culture focus on Jesus' identity as Savior?
2. In our world today, some people just want an example to follow, resisting the idea of a Savior. Is it hard for you to think about Jesus dying on the cross for your sins? Why or why not?
3. Adam Hamilton poses this question: "Luke's story of Jesus' birth implicitly contrasts its central characters - the infant Jesus, His parents, and the shepherds - with people who represent military and economic power (see Luke 2:1-2). Why might people without privilege and status especially welcome a Savior's birth as good news?
4. Hamilton writes, "When the Bible speaks of sin, it means both the innate tendency to stray from the right path and also the act of straying." Do you tend to think of sin as individuals' wrong acts or as an external, larger problem in humanity and the world? What are the risks of thinking about sin in only one way or the other?
5. Back in 1830 George Wilson was convicted of robbing the U.S. Mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall, who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. "A pardon is a slip of paper," wrote Marshall, "the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged."
What does it mean for you to have accepted the pardon of Jesus Christ?
6. Adam Hamilton mentions three senses and tenses in which the New Testament speaks of Jesus saving us: Jesus has saved us (past tense), Jesus is saving us (present tense) and Jesus will save us (future tense). What has Jesus saved YOU from? What is Jesus saving you from? What will Jesus save you from?
7. The last question dealt with what Jesus saved, is saving and will save you from. What has Jesus saved you FOR?
8. Why is the coming of Christ so important?
9. What would you like to do in the coming weeks of Advent to focus your mind and heart on Christ?