The International Church of Stockholm (ICS)

Worship at home with Mini Sermons from our ministers while the ICS services are postponed due to the Corona Virus. Also follow the Radio sendings on a local Swedish Radio Haninge Direkt, 98.5MHz.Listen at 9am local time or online:

RadioHaninge.se ,Radio.se or on TuneIn .

Sunday after Christmas Year 1.

Text:

Old Testament Reading Jeremiah 31(15 -17)

Thus says the Lord:” A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentations and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children because they are not.”

Thus says the Lord: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, says the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country. “

The Epistle Reading   Galatians 4(4-7)

When the time had fully come God sent forth his Son , born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might  receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, “Abba! Father!” So ,through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir.

The Gospel Reading Matthew 2(13-23)

Now, when they(the wise men) had departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Josef in a dream and said,” Rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt  and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet,

”Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men was in a furious rage and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under according to the time which he had ascertained from wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentations .Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more. ”But when Herod died, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Josef in Egypt, saying ,  ”Rise and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead”  But when he heard that Archela’us  reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled. “He shall be called a Nazarine.”

Translations :Revised Standard Version 1952

Sermon by minister Georgina

Jeremiah’s religion and people were in a crisis. To try to keep “Peace” King Manasseh had “licked the boots of his Assyrian masters”(Robert Davidson )and paid a hard price for the so called Peace. He had allowed the worship of other gods to be admitted into Jerusalem. Introductions of dark superstitions and human sacrifice. Anyone who voiced his or her protest was killed. Eventually the Assyrian empire’s power was weakening and in King Josiah’s reign political independence and religious reform  began to creep into people’s minds. Jeremiah however thought there was too much politics involved and he realized his people were heading for destruction. He preached woe for his people

Rachel was considered The Mother of the tribes of the north( she was the mother of Josef and his younger brother Benjamin) So at the  destruction of the northern tribes Rachel i.e. Israel’s mother wept and lamented her children .

In this state of crisis Jeremiah  acknowledged or confirmed the bad situation  they had fallen into because of their giving up their own faith  but at the same time gave…through God’s own will….hope. Verse 17” there is hope for the future”

In the Gospel message we see that once again  a situation has arisen which threatens the salvation of God’s people through the ignorance, egoism and  jealousy  of their King. BUT God through an angel in a dream warns Josef and gave him instructions; showed him his will as to how to save the child. I love the fact that here we see Josef taking the earthly father’s responsibility seriously and obeying the will of the heavenly Father . We hear so little about him. Not the Father of Jesus but a God fearing dutiful caring stepfather one might say (We sing about Mary’s boy -child we should not I think, forget he was Josef’s boy -child too)   Matthew knew his Holy Scripture and uses Jeremiahs words to  describe what  Herod had done.  Maybe Josef was well aware of this text and also  those words of comfort….”There is hope for your future” Matthew wrote first and foremost for the Jewish people. Time and again he quotes scripture which the faithful of his day would recognize and in which they would find hope. There is no direct prophetical  quote from the Old Testament where Matthew says “That which was spoken by the prophets . he shall be called a Nazarine.”” it probably means that by many different writers of the Old Testament contributed to the idea Jesus was not held in high esteem because he came from Nazareth.  Or it could be word play .Neser meaning Branch reminding us  of Isiah 11:1 “There shall come forth a shoot(neser) from the stump of Jesse… No one knows.

In the time of crisis Josef turned to God and God showed the way…the way  of faith and trust in Him

Paul is being attacked on many fronts  and the Christians  in Galatia are being turned against his authority. Paul sees this as a crisis for them .He is strong and safe in his faith but he fears for the young church. One of the sore points , indeed dangers was the attitude that only through  obedience to the law could salvation be gained. Paul says “No”. He considers this to be slavery and God’s people through faith in Christ are no longer slaves but sons and heirs. People listened to him and followed Christ. Paul was executed but Christ lives on as does his help. “O God our help in ages past our hope for years to come. Our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home””(Scottish Church Hymnary 161)

We are in a time of great crisis with corona and all it’s. awful side effects, unemployment, falling economic structure ,  corruption and egoism AND our Churches are closed.  Many  of those who work against God are at work  manipulating our thoughts and ideas .God is being pushed out of our lives most subtly .Now we must listen to the word of God through the mouths of Jeremiah and Matthew and Paul. “There is hope for your future” Trust in God. Listen to his messengers be they angels or ancient prophets or like Paul witnesses in their own lives of his power to give you strength to meet whatever life throws at you. “I am with you always even unto the end of time”

Prayer for this day

Merciful God, you who through your Son have made us your children, help us to see in his earthly simplicity your heavenly power so that we can be safe under your protection.

We pray to you through the name of The Christ Child, the crucified and risen saviour of mankind Amen

Previous  Sermons:

Waiting for the wrong messiah
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