The Christmas season will kick into gear this weekend at all of the Mars Hill churches with the official start of our new sermon series, He Made Us Family: God’s Work, Our Witness 2012.
For the next few weeks, I’ll be preaching from the first chapters of the book of Matthew, which records the early years of Jesus’ life and family. Matthew is the very first book of the New Testament, and it opens with the genealogy of Jesus, tracing his heritage back thousands of years.
In other words, the Bible introduces Jesus in the context of a human family—a family with an amazingly sinful and scandalous history.
God entered into human history through a family in order to make us his family: the church. To everyone “who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13). Through Jesus, Christians live life together like brothers and sisters, and lead like fathers and mothers. We’re a family, with God as our Father and Jesus as our Big Brother.
We’ll be unpacking the implications of this incredible truth over the course of the series. Along the way, we’ll talk a lot about what God is doing in the Mars Hill Church family. We’ll reflect on his work in 2012, we’ll fundraise for his work in 2013, and we’ll share stories that bear witness to the fact that Jesus is alive, God cares about his family, and he wants us to be in loving relationship with him and with each other.
Here’s a quick overview of the weeks to come:
Part 1: Jesus Welcomes You into His Family (Matt. 1:1–17)
We can learn a lot from what appears to be a boring list of names. Through Jesus’ family line, God shows that we are all sinners and need to be born again by Jesus into a new family. The good news is that no matter how bad we are, there is room for us in Jesus’ family.
Part 2: Jesus Is Still with Us (Matt. 1:18–25)
This section of Scripture tells the story of Jesus’ birth. God was born into rough circumstances. His mother was wrongly considered a sexually sinful liar. His father was a poor young working-class laughingstock. God can work through any family, and he oftentimes shows up where we least expect him.
Part 3: Giving Your Gift to Jesus (Matt. 2:1–12)
The first worshipers of Jesus in the New Testament are pagan astrologers who are converted. They rightly bring generous gifts to Jesus: gold is for kings, frankincense was an important element for worship in Old Testament times, and myrrh is an embalming spice for the dead. Their gifts show that Jesus is our King, worthy of worship, come to die for our sin. Jesus is both a gift and worthy of our giving.
Part 4: Why Life Is Hard for Jesus and His People (Matt. 2:13–23)
Not everyone was glad to see the birth of Jesus. An evil family line that can be traced all the way back to Esau ruled in that day, led by a man called Herod. Herod was so demonically opposed to Jesus that he took the lives of countless boys in an effort to murder Jesus. To this day, walking with Jesus as a part of his family means inconvenience, expense, opposition, and at times even death. We’ll talk about some of the tough times we’ve endured by God’s grace, and pray for the year ahead.
In addition, we’ll have a few special sermons over the next few weeks:
- December 23: This Sunday will be a huge Christmas party, with a family-style service, shorter sermon, lots of music, baptisms, baby dedications, and tons of holiday fun. **Please note: as the entire sermon series from Thanksgiving through the end of the year is a Christmas series with holiday décor, songs, and sermons, December 23 will be our big Christmas Celebration. And since we want to give our staff time off to be with their families, with the exception of the Downtown Seattle church’s Christmas Eve service (below), none of our churches will be holding Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services.
- December 24: For those in Seattle, we’ll have one big Christmas Eve service at our new building downtown, one of the city’s oldest church buildings. All are welcome. Show up early if you want as seat, since this will be packed out.
- December 30: Our lead pastors and other Mars Hill elders will preach from Jeremiah 29:4–9 and share the local vision for 2013 with the sixth and final sermon in the He Made Us Family series, “Jesus Has a Plan for Our Family.”
This is a great month to invite your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to join our family. Throughout December, we’ll also be sharing a lot of Christmas-related ideas, resources, and updates online, so I encourage you to keep tabs on our websites.
Thanks for listening,
Thanks for giving,
Thanks for serving,
And thanks for being part of the family.
To help get the word out and add some Christmas to your phone or computer, download the free "He Made Us Family" desktop wallpaper. Merry early Christmas!