But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman,born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.‘ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)
To move from achieving to receiving, earning to inheriting, slave to child— all through Christ, the only Son of God, born as we were born to bring us into life from death, into light from darkness, into belonging from captivity.
Now, His Spirit in our hearts by faith, we live as children, calling out to our divine Father, free and fully alive, breathing deep God’s fresh air, secure and at peace in the Father’s house.
This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our new preaching series entitled “Living the Creed: Connecting Life and Faith in the Apostles’ Creed.” This series walks through the Apostles Creed as a basic summary of our faith but also as a way to live our faith out with God in the world. Each weekend of this series will explore the biblical and theological roots of the Apostles Creed, while also providing specific spiritual practices and approaches to living out what we know as we ‘proclaim and embody’ the Creed in our daily lives.
This weekend I began preaching on the second article of the creed, which begins with this statement: “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.”
You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35)
Conceived by the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit as the source of Creation (Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 104:30)
The Holy Spirit as the source of Divine life for a Divine work (Matthew 1:20-23)
Born of the Virgin Mary
The story of Israel and miracle babies (Isaac, Moses, Samson, Samuel)
The necessary incarnation of God (John 1:14; Romans 5:12-21)
The surprising work of God (Luke 1:26-38; Galatians 4:4-7)
The Mystery of Jesus: Fully God and Fully Human
Living this part of the Apostles’ Creed
Thank God for the Holy Spirit’s creative power
Thank God for the Virgin Mary’s humility and openness to God
Thank God for drawing near for our redemption
This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:
Memorize John 1:14 or Galatians 4:4-7
Draw, ink, or paint Luke 1:26-38 as a basis for prayer. Take time to talk with God as you depict the scene in your own way. What is God speaking to you?
For further background on this portion of the Apostles’ Creed, consider reading:
One of the most mysteriously interesting passages of Scripture is Abraham and Sarah’s hosting of three unknown visitors in Genesis 18. These three guests show up from nowhere to affirm God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah, but also end up mercifully bargaining with Abraham about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Are these figures human visitors, angels, or a divine visitation? We are left with many questions about the episode, but it is clear that God is somehow present with Abraham and Sarah at their table through this episode. We are reminded through this story that God draws near to humanity to meet with us and share hospitality with us. This is profoundly revealed in the incarnation of Jesus our Messiah, who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). In his well-known and beloved icon, Andre Rublev simultaneously depicts the story of Genesis 18 and the wonder of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three apparently angelic figures gather around a table, with a chalice and host on the middle. All of them have their hands extended in some way toward the center of the table. While various interpretations abound, the prevailing interpretations read the icon with the Father on the left, Jesus the Son in the middle (with hands most clearly extended toward the host and chalice and two finger representing the two natures of Christ as fully God and fully man), and Holy Spirit on the right. Details surround the three figures and there is much to take in. A subtlety of style and color beckons the viewer to slow down and enter into reflection and prayer, but also to enter into the beautiful mystery of God’s Triune presence. Through the redeeming work of Christ we, too, can enter into the wonderful eternal relationship and dance of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Today we feel the wind beneath our wings Today the hidden fountain flows and plays Today the church draws breath at last and sings As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise. This is the feast of fire,air, and water Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth. The earth herself awakens to her maker And is translated out of death to birth. The right words come today in their right order And every word spells freedom and release Today the gospel crosses every border All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace Today the lost are found in His translation. Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.
You can hear a recording of Malcolm Guite reading this poem here.
What must the early disciples have been holding in their hearts and minds in those days after Jesus’ ascended? His final words to them were drenched with weighty anticipation: “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). They knew it would be some gift of His Spirit coming on them with power for witness (Acts 1:8), but when or how it would happen or what exactly would happen were undefined. And so, they waited in worship and prayer until the festival of Pentecost arrived. The celebration of Pentecost in the Jewish calendar focused on thanking God for the firstfruits of the harvest, and later for the giving of the Law through Moses on Mount Sinai. But now there was something new happening, as the fires of Sinai touched earth, and the ingathering of God’s kingdom came. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4). The early gathering of ordinary people was transformed by God’s indwelling presence. Contemporary artist Makoto Fujimura developed a series of liturgical paintings for a local congregation in Princeton, NJ, through paired diptychs: Advent/Pentecost, Epiphany/Easter, Lent/Good Friday and two Ordinary Time paintings. Fujimura’s unique Nihonga-influenced style brings together rich colors and radiant gold within this painting. Amidst ordinary worship, this congregation, and all who view it, are reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).