Sunday, December 17, 2017

Glorious Joy

A full service today with lots of music, rejoicing as we are swept along in the spirit of the season. This afternoon (Sunday) will be the youth Christmas program at 4:00 p.m.Next Sunday will be a Chridstmas Eve Candlelight Service beginning at 4:00 p.m.

There was a lot of music to lift spirits today. Chuck opened the service with a poem, then Ed and Darlene performed O Come Alle Ye Faithful as a piano/harmonica duet, leading into a series of favorite Christmas hymns. The offering was taken to an accompaniment by the  Ladies Trio.

Before the time of prayer Darlene shared a brief reflection that Christmas spirit isn't just for Cristmastime but an attitude of sharing and generosity year-round. After a time of lifting up the needs of the church Pastor Terry White stepped up to the pulpit.

Glorious Joy

Before launching into his message Terry read Hebrews 12:1-2... "Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...." The roots of joy are embedded in having God's perspective.

Terry shared that he grew up in Colorado, and grew up skiing. The green slopes are the easy slopes. The blue slopes are hard, and the black significantly harder and the hardest slopes exceedingly challenging, even scary. The green hill has names like the Bunny Hop hill. The double-diamond hardest slopes are named things like Kamikaze and Death Drop.

He described an incredible jump he witnessed which simulated the drama of Olympians, and then shared how we mentally sort people into winners and losers which allows our self-talk to make it seem like we're losers compared to "those people." It's just one more small way we allow things to steal our joy.

Today's text: I Peter 1:3-12

The pastor's aim in this message of joy was designed to help us understand that joy is rooted in our perspective. What is it that steals your joy? The weight of responsibility, expectations, burdens and demands of life all challenge us at times and steal our joy.

Whatever thoughts we have had about the things that we think matter, from God's perspective the one thing that matters is our reconciliation with the Father. Everything flows out from that. Our life is an expression of a living hope, a hope that will never perish.

The most important inheritance that we'll ever gain is kept in heaven for us, an inheritance that will never perish.

This matter of gaining perspective makes a larger difference than we realize, because when we keep things in perspective it spills over into the lives of those around us.

As we approach the end of the football season another Playoff Season is coming into view, so Terry share what one player said about winning the Super Bowl: for two hours everything is perfect and wonderful. Then life and all its complications comes back into view.

In contrast, verse 8, we see that Heaven, real Heaven, is forever. Everything else is temporary.

Verse 8-9: Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

How do we learn how to live in the midst of our current circumstances that swirl around us? The fact that we will be with Jesus forever makes all the difference in the world. It's a matter of perspective.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Status Quo

Tuesday at 7 a.m., Men's Bible Study here at the church.
Women's Community Bible Study, 9:45 a.m. with luncheon after.
Faith in Fabrics, December 14,10:00 a.m.
Sunday, December 17, Christmas Program, 4:00 p.m. with dinner following the program. Meal will be provided. Bring cookies and treats to share.
Kelly shared about the Salvation Army family we "adopted" to help, a mom and two little girls.  Goods need to be brought in by a week from Monday, Dec. 18.
Please see Kelly or the signup sheet to bless a family with Christmas.
RoseAnn said that Tuesday is deadline to bring cookies for the jail.

The Second Sunday of Advent readings were about the transformational power of God to make things new and about how God enters into situations in unexpected ways.

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Terry White welcomed us and led us in a time of worship. The children came up and Susan Jessico led a children's talk about the notion of all things New. First, the kids were asked what their favorite candy was to eat at this time of year. Some of the youngest said "Cookies." But Candy Canes took the most votes in the second row. Susan's lesson centered on M&Ms, but the center of the lesson was a set of Bible verses on the Christmas Story.

We sang O Come All Ye Faithful while the offering was taken and then entered in to a time of public prayer and praise.

The Status Quo

We turned to Luke 1:26-56 and the story of the birth of our Lord.

How often do we read about stories where God enters into a regular life and it is radically altered? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses... And in today's reading from the Gospel of Luke.

God alters lives. But change is not always something we readily embrace. We have a tendency to prefer the Status Quo, to prefer the way things are rather than altered. Change challenges us, but it's an inevitability that we ought to actually expect. At some point in time our apple carts get upended.

In reality, things are always changing, whether we're growing or dying. God is all about making things new.

There are moments when you find yourself in over your head... Mary was aware that this "blessing of God" was not going to be an easy path for her.

Mary asks, "How will this be?" The answer is profound yet doesn't really answer the question or solve everything. How would you have responded? Verse 38 is Mary's response. "I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” It is a response of acceptance.

We live in a world where problems get solved in the 30 minutes of a TV episode. But real life is not that way. How we react to life's events is key.

In Mary's reaction we see modeled what our reaction to all life events should be. Mary, pregnant and not married, says, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."

"He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

She is mindful of the long story of God's people that preceded this event... and gave glory to God.

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We closed with Hark the Herald, Pastor White drawing attention to the theology contained in this classic hymn by Charles Wesley.

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.