Darlene, Chuck and Ken led us in worship today, opening the service with "Mary Did You Know?" This was followed by a trio of Christmas hymns. The offering taken, we moved into a time of prayer and thanksgiving. Brad began by expressing special thanks for Darlene's contributions toward making this season especially special during this Advent season, and we all added an amen to that with applause.
The Message of Jesus
Brad began by noting that Christmas is a season, not just a day. Even though the world is broken Jesus is working every day. The Message of Christmas, the story of God breaking into our world, is not just a Bible message but is a story from history.
After reading Matthew 1:18-24 Brad pointed out that these "places" mentioned in the Bible are places that are still here today. The place where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River that Israel crossed to enter the land... all these were places. The stories took place in the real world.
Joseph and Mary were poor, but it's noteworthy that people who are poor are more dependent on God. Joseph's roots were Bethlehem, the City of David.
In various ways Brad returned to the challenges of life, the stresses in the midst of the season. And how Jesus came to give us peace.
After the angels shared the message of peace and joy with the shepherds, the shepherds ran into town and shared what they had heard. All who heard them were astonished. (When was the last time people were astonished by shepherds?)
Jesus is the peace-giver and peace-maker.
What's out responsibility in this crazy messed up world today? As receivers of God's peace it's our responsibility to become peace givers. To become self-less servants.
Jesus' life one of continuous giving, of being poured out. Even on the cross, the Lord's life was not taken, but rather, He gave His life.
As I die to myself, something new can be born.
Brad ended by asking that in 2016 we enter our relationships as circumstances as peace-givers. Be open to helping give hope to those who have lost hope. Be open to allowing God to show up in your lives in amazing ways. Allow your hearts to return to this very unlikely event, the unlikely place, where everything starts. He came to make peace, to bring peace to a troubled world.
"My peace I leave with you," Jesus said.
In closing we sang, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."