On the final Sunday of Advent, we will reflect on our hope for peace. Peace is something that we all yearn for: peace in our hearts, in our families, in our communities and in our world. And yet peace is illusive and hard to find, and even harder to hold on to. Even as we yearn for peace, we find within, among and around us the seeds of conflict, misunderstanding, injustice and war. Two thousand years ago Jesus came as the living embodiment of the way of peace. The question is Will we walk in his way? Will we allow him to change us? May the peace of Christ be born in us this day.
What gives you joy? What reasons do you find to rejoice even in the midst of the challenges of life? This third Sunday in the season of Advent, we will rejoice together, “for the Mighty One has done great things” (Luke 1:49)! So we will sing, shout, ring, pray, and rejoice. Even as we continue to wait for the fullness of God’s reign, even as we prepare our hearts to receive the Christ, we will also rejoice! We will rejoice in the promised victory of God who is for us and rejoices over us. Let the words of the prophet Zephaniah sink in, “God will rejoice over you with gladness, God will renew you in God’s love; God will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.” (Zeph. 3:17-18)
On the second Sunday of Advent, December 9, we will reflect together on God’s coming to us. What will that be like? How and when will God come? Are we prepared? The prophet Micah (3:1-4) proclaimed that the Lord God will come suddenly into his Temple as powerful change agent, like a “refiner’s fire” or “fuller’s soap.” And in our gospel text (Luke 1:26-38), a young Mary suddenly learns that her whole life will be changed. She will be the mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High. She wonders how this miraculous thing could be, but accepts it. “Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” God’s coming changes things. Let us prepare ourselves for that coming.
This Sunday, December 2, we begin the new Christian year with the season of Advent. Our services throughout Advent will include a lot of wonderful, inspiring music. I can’t wait. My upcoming messages will be on The Many Times of Advent (see the schedule below). Each week I have paired a scripture passage from the ancient Hebrew prophets suggested by the lectionary with a selection from Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. I invite you to read and ponder these texts beforehand. May your Advent be a time of deepening faith and wonder.
This coming Sunday, November 25th, is the last Sunday of the Christian year! A new Christian year begins on December 2nd, the first Sunday in the season of Advent. The Christian liturgical cycle divides a calendar year into a series of seasons – Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Ordinary Time. These seasons are based, not upon predictable changes in the weather, but upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Just as each season in the world of nature has a distinct quality, each season in the Church liturgical cycle has a distinct mood and spiritual nuance. By regularly remembering and re-experiencing the key aspects of the life and ministry of Jesus, we are refreshed, deepened and reconfirmed in our own faith and depth of understanding. And because we are not the same person with the same understandings from year to year, our experience of the Church Seasons is similarly different and deeper each year. By God’s grace, through our celebration of the Christian year we are being shaped into the pattern of Christ. May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Our scripture for this week is one of my favorites, Philippians 4:6-13. I invite you to read it and ponder it daily from now until Thanksgiving Day. While working on the bulletin and message for this coming Sunday, I came across the above picture that contains the saying, “Gratitude, the key to a happy life!” I’ve been wondering about it ever since. Could it really be true? Is gratitude the key to a happy life? Could it be that a grateful life is also a happy life? Think about that.
This coming Sunday we will ponder the apostle Paul’s encouraging words in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 concerning God’s abundant blessings which enable us to share freely with others. We are challenged to sow abundantly so we may reap bountifully. There is great joy in being able to give. There is great meaning in living a generous life.
This coming All Saints Sunday, November 4th, we will remember loved ones in the St Andrew’s church family who have passed on and we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. My brief message will be on the third word that describes what we are about as a congregation – the word “celebrate.” Our scripture is from Luke 15, the familiar story of the Prodigal Son, especially v. 23 “let us eat and celebrate,” and v.32 “we had to celebrate and rejoice.”
Then following our worship service in the sanctuary we will gather in the Celebration Center for a delicious stewardship luncheon during which I will lead us in a discussion of how we hope to live out the mission of St Andrew’s in the coming year. You should have received an invitation and brochure in the mail this week. If not, at pdf is attached and we will have plenty of extras available. Please come! I hope to see all of you there as we seek ways to live into God’s dream for St. Andrew’s.
This Sunday, October 28th, we will gather at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary for prayer and singing a few songs, then we will “rise against hunger” and all go to the Celebration Center to pack 10,000 meals to feed hungry children around the world! This is a wonderful event where we can make a difference in our world.
Then on Sunday, November 4th, following our worship service in the sanctuary we will again gather in the Celebration Center for a delicious stewardship luncheon during which I will lead us in a discussion of how we hope to live out the mission of St Andrew’s in the coming year. You should receive an invitation and brochure in the mail soon. I hope to see all of you there.
The second of the three words we are using to describe what we do at St Andrew’s is SERVE. We serve God by serving others. We respond to God’s love for all by freely sharing it through life enhancing words and actions. As God has blessed and gifted us, both as individuals and as a community, we are called to “pay it forward” through gracious acts of hospitality, compassion and service. Though the way may be hard at times and sometime we may grow weary, yet there is meaning and joy in living this way, for we are participating in God’s great love. We are walking in Christ’s way.