Sunday, December 30, 2012

Highly Favored

"Welcome… I love being here. It’s still the season of Christmas. I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas season," Pastor Shannon declared as he opened the service. "As we enter the new year do we recognize and embrace what it means to be highly favored by God."

Announcements include:
1. Brad will be starting a new members class sometime by the end of January. Let us know if this interests you.
2. Sunday school begins again next week Women’s Group January 19th. Bring a treat to share. More information in the weeks ahead.

Worship began with Chuck, Darlene and Ken singing a medley combining Gentle Shepherd and Freely, Freely. Brad committed the service to God and the trio then sang For Those Tears I Died, then led us in worship.

Offering taken, followed by a Scripture reading: Luke 1:46-56

Einstein once said, "There are two ways to live: you can either live as if nothing is a miracle, or as if everything is a miracle."  

Before our time of prayer Brad gave the congregation an opportunity to share things they are grateful for, and numerous people shared very personally from the heart.

Highly Favored

The focus here today is on one word: Favor. It’s a beautiful word, appropriately reflecting the beauty of the season. The pastor described three scenes to help illustrate the meaning of this word and its application to us today.

The first: a young woman is sitting in a small village. She’s from a poor family. And the angel Gabriel comes to her and greets her as one who is favored.

Favor means, “Kindness beyond what is due or usual.”

The angel explains what this favored status means."The Lord is with you... you will give birth to a son... he will be great and will be called Son of the Most High... He will reign... and his kingdom will never end."

In Mary's case, being favored mean that God's son, wholly God and very God, was inside her. But what does this mean for me?

Brad's answer was clear. To be a Christian means that the life of Jesus is within you. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” In Galatians 2:20 Paul writes, "I am crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” And in Gal 4:19 Paul speaks of his pains, as if in childbirth himself, “till Christ be formed in you."

In other words, the Christ formed in Mary in flesh is formed in believers by His spirit.

Second word picture… In Roman times the shepherds were such an underclass population that their testimony would not hold up in court. How strange and amazing that these were the first people to whom the angels declared that God’s son was born in Bethlehem.

A lot of people see God as someone with a big angry expression and accusing finger. Do you see harshness or kindness?

A third scene… found in Luke 4. Jesus at age 30, at a Sabbath day in Nazareth where He has been handed a scroll in the synagogue

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

What an incredible statement.  Every in that room would have understood what Jesus was referring to when He said, "the year of the Lord's favor." It was the Year of Jubilee.

The Year of Jubilee was a truly wonderful break for the poor, a once in a lifetime deal in which debts were cancelled, slaves were set free and family land would be returned. The Year of Jubilee was commanded by God, but it ended up a practice that never happened. The haves, the ones with power, always had an excuse to not fulfill this.

But Jesus comes along and says, “I am here to blow the trumpet…. To fulfill this Year of Jubilee.”

I am glad Jesus came to fulfill the day of the Lord's favor and not the day of justice. We need kindness. We need to see our debts cancelled and freedom from enslavement.

Debts always have a price and someone has to pay. Every time a debt is written off, a loss is incurred. God absorbs the debt for our sin. He takes the loss for our gain.

How should we respond? Christmas is about the favor of God… Mary embraced this truth, this reality.

If you're a Christian, you live in the favor of God. I hope you see how rich you are in Christ. You have been set free. Your sins are forgiven. The life of God is within you.You are privileged. You are loved. You are surrounded by the kindness of God that is beyond what is usual and what is due.

The other side is this… how great a loss it is for those who have rejected or never found Him.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


It was a very special service again this morning. The primary announcement this morning pertained to tomorrow's Christmas Eve service, which will be at 4:00 p.m.

After the congregation sang a pair of beautiful Christmas hymns, Brooke Shannon talked about what God has been doing in her life this past year in a ministry moment. Her sharing was all the more powerful because the only Brooke we have seen publicly seems to be a bright-spirited, cheerful leader in our church family. This morning she allowed us to see through the windows into her heart and what it meant to lose her home in a house-fire 15 months ago.

Brooke began by sharing that there's one word that came to mind when she thought about this matter: Home.

To put things into a bigger context, she stated that she has moved 27 times in her life. When she lost her house, and her wedding dress, she had three things she was grateful she did not lose: her family, her faith and her church. Now that they've moved into the new house they built, she shared how this word is an acronym for the lessons she learned.
H... Humility  What I have is not mine.
O... Ongoing  The journey doesn't end. There will be more trials or victories.
M... Maturity  A deepening knowledge of God
E...  Endurance

Brooke shard her low point this past year. "Honey, should we just move?" But then she recognized that they have been called to this community. It was a very powerful message.

During the offering Brad mentioned that normally the church does not take an offering during the Christmas service, but that tomorrow an offering will be taken to support the missional commitments of the Covenant churches here and abroad. After a time of prayer, Pastor Shannon delivered the sermon.


Brad began by asking, "What was going through Joseph's mind when he learned his betrothed was pregnant?" And also, "What does it mean when the Bible calls Joseph a righteous man?" We looked closely at a detail that often gets lost in all the more familiar details of the Christmas story.

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matt 1:18-19)

Our English translations of the Bible vary, but the original word that the NIV translated "was faithful to the law" is translated "a righteous man" which still fails to fully convey the meaning of the word. The word here is "sadiq" which means "uncompromising obedience to the Torah."

A sadiq was one who did what was right. He kept the Sabbath and all the laws. He was someone people looked up to so that his identity was associated with this honorable behavior. This is why it was an exceptionally problematic situation when he learned the woman to whom he was betrothed was now pregnant, and he himself had not had anything to do with it.

Joseph's identity was associated with being a righteous man. The problem is, the letter of the law would require that he make her sin public. This was a stoning-level offense. His reputation was on the line in how he handled this. 

When Mary explained the situation to Joseph, that she was "with child" but that she had not been with any man, that this was God's child, Joseph did not initially believe it. This was just too much, and he undoubtedly experience great anxiety as her wrestled with what to do. He'd already decided to divorce her quietly when an angel came to him with words of comfort and instruction.

It's interesting here that God allowed Joseph to experience this anguish while his world was being turned upside down.

At this point several things became clear in Joseph's mind. First, by taking Mary back as his wife, he was about to lose his reputation (as a righteous man, as a sadiq.) Second, if he married a pregnant girl his life would never be the same. Third, his identity as a sariq would be lost.

But the angel said, "Don't be afraid." And Joseph brought Mary home to him.

Brad pointed out an interesting detail from the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 6 it is noted that Jesus had four brothers, named after the Patriarchs of Israel. In verse 3, there is a reference to Jesus as "the son of Mary." At the time, and through most of history, the designation for sons would be as sons of their fathers. Being a small town, it would appear the lost reputation of Joseph continued, and when it says in verse 4, "they took offense at him" it was tantamount to calling him a "son of a ___."

In short, Joseph gave up his reputation and identity for Jesus, and did so even before Jesus was born.

Could this upbringing be one more reason Jesus had a heart for the downtrodden, the rejected, the women who had been stained, because he saw that his father was this kind of man who demonstrated a new kind of righteousness, based on mercy and compassion.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared, "Unless your righteousness passes that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law" -- the old system -- "you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." Jesus must have been thinking inside, I've seen the better kind of righteousness firsthand; my father was such a man.

When Joseph made the decision to wed Mary, he thought it was the end of his being known as a righteous man. He did not know fully that the child he would adopt would bring to the human race a new kind of righteousness. That is what we're celebrating this Christmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

God Keeps His Promises (Part II)

The recent Connecticut school shooting weighed on many hearts as we gathered for worship today, and it weighed on Pastor Brad's heart as well. "Good morning… It’s been a tough week. The idea that kept coming to me was 'Come, Lord Jesus, come.' Waiting is hard. Jesus Christ is the hope of the world."

The only announcement this morning was an invitation to join us this afternoon at 4:00 for the Christmas Program and ethnic potluck dinner, the theme being, "Christmas Around the World."

Darlene transitioned us into worship with a creative variation of Hark the Herald, then Norm and Mae lit the Third Advent Candle, the candle of joy.

Chuck led the worship which consisted of Christmas hymns selected by the congregation including The First Noel, a beautifully reflective Silent Night and the tender What Child Is This.

Ministry Moment
Chuck Vanderscheuren shared briefly about what God is dong in his life. He shared how he has been going down to the Salvation Army now for four years and it has been one of the best things that has happened in his life. He said it has forced him to try to be a better person. He shared Micah 6:6-8… “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Rev 12:10,11 In heaven there will be rejoicing, singing and we will be known by our testimony.

Chuck brings breakfast on Wednesdays.

Brad read today's Scripture passage Zephaniah 3:14-20 and after a time of prayer began today's message.

God Keeps His Promises (Part II)

Waiting is hard. I don’t like to wait in line at a shopping mall. I don’t like to wait in a gas station waiting for someone to pull away.

Brad asked us to imagine a couple scenarios. You’re at a toll booth. The driver in the car in front of you is having an extended conversation with the toll booth operator. How do you respond?
1. You’re happy at their fellowship and how well they get along.
2. You think of things you want to say to the toll booth operator, none very kind.
3. You attempt to drive between the car and the booth.

The second scenario given a similar treatment: You’re in a waiting room for an hour…

There are other kinds of waiting that is hard. A single person wondering if they will ever have someone to share a life with. A waiting of a couple longing to get pregnant and start a family. There are other situations as well that we do not have power in our hands to resolve.

Waiting for a hope deferred is challenging.

There are many Psalms that speak of waiting patiently for the Lord. Abraham was visited by an angel and told he would have a son, but it was 24 years till the miracle happened... that is a long wait. All through Scripture there are stories of waiting. And then the many centuries after the time of the prophets in which all Israel was waiting for a promised Messiah to deliver them.

In the years before our Lord's birth there were many who were waiting for or looking forward to this One who was to redeem Israel. Simeon was promised by God that he would not see death till he had seen the Messiah, and as an old man this promise was fulfilled. Anna, a widow in her 80’s, was another who waited with longing. After her husband passed away she never left the temple, waiting for the coming redeemer.

When Jesus grew up and began his ministry, His disciples believed He would restore the Kingdom…. But He was crucified, and event that startled and confused them. When He rose from the grave, He gathered them and told them what to do: to wait in Jerusalem. (Acts 1:4)

43 times in Old Testament people are told to wait. The last chapter of the Bible, “Behold, I am coming soon” yet we find ourselves waiting. Waiting is a form of suffering that produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope. (Romans 5:3-5)

But waiting is not passively hoping something or someone comes along to help you take care of your problems. Nor is waiting a way to evade painful realities. Waiting on the Lord is a daily decision to trust God.

Here are three aspects of waiting pastor highlighted for us.

1. Waiting on the Lord requires patient trust.
a. II Peter 3:8-9 God’s perspective is not ours.
b. All too often we want God’s resources but not His timing.
c. Waiting is a time when God is doing His work in us. It has a purpose in our own growth and development. and helps you learn who you are.
d. Henri Nouwen wrote a beautiful book about trapeze artists who said there is a special relationship between the flyer and the catcher. The flyer must let go, and his job is to be absolutely still and remain that way until the catcher catches you, an illustration that aptly describes our role in relationship to God as we let go and trust.

2. Waiting on the Lord requires confident humility.
a. Confidence and quietness
b. Waiting is something only the humble can do with grace
c. I must learn that “I’m not calling the shots.”
d. Society allows people with status to wait less. But we are waiting on God.
e. Mark 4 tells the story of Jesus asleep in the boat while a storm is happening. The disciples were frantic, finally waking Him. He stills the storm and silences their fears as well. Though Jesus experienced all the things we've experienced, God is never frantic, never in a hurry.

3. Waiting requires that we learn how to recognize God’s voice.
a. God’s voice is never frantic. When you hear frantic, panicky thoughts in your head, this is not God’s voice.
b. My sheep know My voice.

Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? (Hebrews 11) What we wait for is not more important than what happens to is when we wait.

As you wait, hope. As Isaiah explained...

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who wait upon the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

God Keeps His Promises

A fresh snowfall fell gently over the countryside during the night and continued again this morning. The outdoor quiet lay in distinct contrast to the energetic practice taking place in the sanctuary in preparation for the upcoming Christmas concert. Downstairs many others were assembled for a Christmas-focused adult Sunday school gathering.

Brad welcomed us and grabbed our attention with a booming “Good morning! Thank you for braving this storm today.”

He then directed us toward the theme that he would be sharing from the pulpit this morning. "There is only one person who always keeps his promises and that is God. How does God break into our world to keep His promises even today."

Life of the Church

Tonight at 5:00 p.m. there is a men’s ministry event taking place here, Men as Peacemakers. Fire departments throughout the region will be here for a presentation on domestic abuse. There will be a meal preceding.

Christmas Around the World is our theme for this year’s Christmas program which will be next Sunday. There will be an international meal after the program which begins at 4:00 p.m. This is a reminder that the children need to be here for Wednesday and Saturday practice. (10 – noon next week.)

Regarding the Salvation Army family we have adopted, a Mom and 2 kids: bring your gifts by next Sunday.

Ed Newman played piano this morning in Darlene’s absence, beginning with an Appalachian carol, and then accompanying the congregation as we sang several Christmas hymns.

The lighting of the second Advent candle followed with Larsen family… Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation. The first candle is the Candle of Hope. The second, which was lit today, is the Candle of Preparation as Christians "prepare" to receive God.

Duayne Anderson shared with us during a Ministry Moment in response to the question, “What has God been doing in your life?”

“What I’m sharing is what God is doing in my life by being in my life.” He shared about his brother-in-law’s recent passing last month. Throughout his suffering with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, he was happy to know he was saved and repeatedly said “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

Shared the challenge it is when faced with suffering in others’ lives. Duayne affirmed that whatever we go through He is there, and we can go to Him.

God Keeps His Promises

For a lot of people the Christmas season has other emotional associations. For Pastor Brad, this time of year reminds Brad of his father’s passing, and the difficult time that preceded it as Brad was involved with taking care of him as he declined. What made the experience especially difficult was that many people prayed for his father’s healing, but it never happened.

In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis bared his soul as he wrote about the passing of his wife, Joy Davidman. The reason he married her was to assure her that when she died of cancer he would take care of her sons, but then she survived and the formality of marriage became something more. But then, she was taken from him as her cancer returned, and he turned his skillful pen toward expressing the pain and grief of his loss. 

It was so personal that he wrote the book and published it under a pseudonym. primarily because it was so open about his anger and questioning God.It was only after he died that the book was properly attributed to this influential Christian.

In both instances, Lewis' and Pastor Shannon's, there was pain because expectations about God's intervention did not happen in the manner they assumed God should intervene.

We live in an assumptive world… all too often confused and disillusioned when things don’t happen the way we think they should and our belief structures are shaken.

Here's the passage from Isaiah 40 that Brad proceeded to read:

25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who wait upon the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

How does God keep His promises? How does God work? Some strong Calvinist friends say that God controls everything. We're just going through the motions of appearing to have a say in our life choices. Others see absolutely no involvement and we’re left to muddle along on our own.

But how does God break into human affairs? There are three ways which were presented.

1. Intervention is where God actually reaches down and intervenes. An example of this is in Exodus 14. Israel left Egypt, but got stuck at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army’s rapidly approaching chariots coming on strong. As we remember, God parted the Red Sea and the fleeing Israelites cross on dry ground, a miraculous intervention of God on behalf of His people. In NT we see another example in Luke 18. A man born blind receives his sight at Jesus' word. Jesus spoke, and the man could see.

Too often, though, we think this is the way God should act, always, and we can expect that He will act when we have a need.

It’s good that we expect or desire miracles from God. Many of us can share stories like this. It’s not wrong to expect a miracle. but here is the problem. It is not God’s primary method of working and it will leave you disillusioned if you expect this kind of problem solving all the time.

2. Interaction is where God works through His people. Here is another example from Exodus, this time from chapter 2. Moses kills an Egyptian to save Israel from oppression, but flees to the backside of desert because of his fear. Moses' life can be summed up in three acts. The first 40 years he learned he was a somebody thru association with pharaoh’s courts. The second 40, he learned he was a nobody. In his third 40, he learned what God could do through a somebody who knew he was a nobody.

God says to Moses, “You go, and I’ll go with you.” They are team. He is a worker together with God.

I have friends who say they have miracles every day… before breakfast, later in the afternoon and again in the evening. My experience tell me there are some things that will not be changed unless God works and WE work together with Him.

The Great Commission is an example here. Jesus affirms His omnipotence and omniscience, but in between, God commissions his people to change the world by making disciples of all nations. Unless we do our part, it will not happen.

3. Inner Action is where God does not do a miracle, or change our situation, but through His inaction He does something beautiful inside us. An example can be found in II Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh. It is never identified, but what we know is that God did not pull the thorn. Nor could Paul remove the thorn himself. But by means of the thorn Paul's relationship with God was deepened.

8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Brad then shared the story of Jim, a wheelchair-bound man whose situation was not changed, but who became an incredible man through God’s inner action.

The people of God were awaiting a Messiah for centuries. God seemed to have forsaken them. But God was not absent and had not forsaken them.

Then Brad opened the windows into his own life and shared how difficult this past 14 months had been after their home burned. " I often wondered if I could make it through the day… and many days I ended the day thankful that I had walked and had not fainted."

God's promise is that our strength will be renewed when we learn to wait on Him. God keeps His promises. Sometimes we can soar on eagle's wings or run and not be weary, but other times we will walk and not faint. You can bet your soul on that.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

God So Loved the World

Pastor Brad Shannon begand by greeting us with his usual warmth, "Good morning. I’m grateful you’re here today." He then noted this this is the  first Sunday in advent, which speaks of the time of longing, preparing for the coming of the Messiah. Today, first advent candle would be lit, representing hope. Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. Our hope is not in government or material possessions but in Jesus Christ.

Announcements included the following...
1. Next Sunday, December 9, the group Men as Peacemakers will be with us for a dininer and time of learning about domestic abuse.
2. Bring your Covenant World Relief cans next week
3. This year we are again adopting a family through a Salvation Army to help make Christmas special for a needy family. The family we are sharing with is a Mom with two three-and a half year olds. The boy is size 5T. Jeans, slippers, Spiderman, buzz cars and sleds are on his list. The little girl has Tinker Belle, Disney Princess and sleds on her list. See Dawn Walsh for details. Bring your gifts by the 16th.
4. The 16th will also be our Christmas Children’s Program, the 16th, the theme being Christmas Around the World.

Chuck and Darlene were away for the weekend. Ed Newman filled in on the piano for our introit and music during the offering and communion.

The Borndal family lit the first Advent candle and shared the meaning of this first candle: Hope… awaiting for the hope of Christ to come into our lives in a new way.

The offering was taken after which Ed shared a few thoughts on the theme of “What is God doing in my life?”

Today's Scripture reading was from Luke 21:25-36.

There were many requests for the church family and needs in our world today during our time of prayer.

God So Loved the World

Brad began by sharing memories of Christmas growing up. He remembered the pressure to make each Christmas the “best Christmas ever” though also in the aftermath they would say, “We’ll have to cut back next year.”

Our Christmas rituals included shopping, getting gifts, Mom baking cookies, etc. But for many of us Christmas memories include family times with grouchy relatives, unspoken issues in the midst of everything else, Christmas parties on top of other parties, economic uncertainties… What would it take for this Christmas to be the best Christmas ever?

To answer this question Pastor Shannon had us look at what made the first Christmas great and so we can make this Christmas great again. He had us turn to John 3:16, the first words that expressed what launched Christmas."For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

What made the first Christmas great is that God gave…. Giving is what God is into.

God is so generous, and has been so right from the beginning. James rights that we shouldn't be deceived about God… “Every good and perfect gift is from above…”

Brad shared an anecdote about a famous surfboarding location called Half Moon Bay. Surfers come from all over to surf here. One stated, “We are the luckiest organisms in the history of the world to be able to enjoy this.” Once again, God’s generosity is lavish and continual.

As expressed in the Book of Lamentations, “Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” God is constantly giving. Every day. It's as if He greets us each day like this: “You liked yesterday’s sunrise? Here’s another…”

But when God gave us Jesus He outgave Himself. God gave the gift of a savior to people who needed it most…

What makes Christmas great is not the Christmas tree It's not the music or food. It's not the moments we create, or feelings we experience. It's our giving.

What if we expressed record levels of compassion in sometimes costly ways? What if we so loved the world that we gave to others in ways that blessed more?

Instead of a "see more, shop more, stress more, frenzied more Christmas, let’s make it a Christmas of compassion.

Giving is not something good only for others. Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than receive." In other words, you will be enriched and enhanced when you give. Jesus did not say, “You should give more” or “It is better to give.” He said you will be blessed.

Brad shared the results of a study of two groups of youth, those who did volunteer work with younger kids and those who did not. The first group was much more well adjusted, less likely to end up with teen pregnancies, drug addicitions, etc. But at all ages, people who volunteer with school children have more satisfaction. It is more life-giving to give.

Bringing it down to practical applications, Brad invited us to bring extra food to church with us for area food shelves. And to bring something for the family we’ve adopted. "Go on an adventure of giving."  

I know God gave His only son… What can I give?

To illustrate what it is like to be on the Taker road, Brad explained how to catch a monkey. Get a jar with a narrow mouth. Put some bait inside the jar. The monkey reaches in, grasps the banana or orange. And because he only wants to grasp, he won’t let it go, even though grasping keeps him from being able to pull out his hand.

The story of the Rich Young Ruler comes readily to mind. "Good teacher? What must I do to inherit eternal life?" It's the right question, but the young man didn't like the answer. "Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and follow Me." The rich young ruler walked away sad.

On the other hand the Gospels tell another story of a man with wealth who encountered Jesus, Zachias. Zachias has a different response, giving lavishly. This is the path toward making this the best Christmas ever.

~ ~ ~

Today we concluded the service by celebrating the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.