Advent

Are You Ready?

Sermon Summary for Sunday, December 17th, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.  In today’s Gospel we hear the story of John the Baptist proclaiming his status as messenger of the world-changing news that the Light of the World was coming, the long-awaited Messiah.  John confessed he was not the Messiah or the second coming of Elijah or Moses, but only the voice of one crying in the wilderness.  He stressed his humility as a servant messenger and nothing more.  John’s humility is a lesson for all of us as it reminds us of our place in the kingdom. We are called to be messengers of the Gospel and deflect any praise or acclamation for ourselves as we go about our kingdom work of worship, evangelism and outreach to those in need.

In the Advent season, it’s important to hear the Baptist’s message and prepare our hearts and minds for the coming Messiah.  It’s a message of ultimate liberty and freedom through our redemption and reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ and our ultimate reward in heaven.  But it is not just about the hereafter as our eternal life begins in our time on earth.  We prepare our hearts for living out our lives in Christ now with the exciting hope and joy of salvation to come.  While we’re here we proclaim the good news of the God’s kingdom among us. 

The power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts creates a new beginning.  It brings compassion and love to the world that our Savior modeled for us with his coming.  There can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the kingdom of God in our hearts.

A Gift of Mercy

Sermon Summary for Sunday, December 18th, 2016 | Respectfully Submitted by Jeff Tindall

"Grace is when God gives us what we don't deserve and mercy is when God doesn't give us what we do deserve."

As we continue to await Christ's arrival on this fourth Sunday of Advent, take a moment to consider Joseph's perspective of the immaculate conception.  Imagine how this man would have felt to find out the woman he is engaged to is pregnant before they have consummated their marriage.  The new nativity ballet this weekend helped portray the betrayal he might have felt.  The powerfully mixed emotions that many of us have felt when we are hurt by the ones we love most.  Joseph would have been well within his rights to have had Mary stoned.  But instead, he offered to show her mercy and dismiss her quietly so no harm would come to her.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit shared the good news with Joseph so they could raise Jesus together as a family.

Ponder the times you have been on the receiving end of mercy.  And the next time you have been wronged, take a moment to consider a gift of mercy. 

N.B. A comforting glance can be just as effective as cupcakes to ease a neighbor's soul and it requires much less preparation.

Words of Advent

Sermon Summary for Sunday, December 11th, 2016 | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood

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Mother Mary’s Advent 3 message centered around words – words of the scripture readings, words describing our Heavenly Father and his coming to earth, words of our experience of living in faith.  She began by reminding us of that for which we are waiting in this season of Advent:

1.     We wait for the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior

2.     We wait for the presence of God Incarnate among us

3.     We wait for His coming again

In the Gospel lesson, the imprisoned John the Baptist wasn’t so sure that the Jesus of whom he was hearing was “the one.”  So he sent disciples to inquire if he was the one who was to come, or were they to wait for another.  Jesus’ replies emphatically to tell John that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.  And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.  Then in a wonderful act of affirmation, Jesus tells the assembled crowd that among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  He thereby not only affirms John’s position in the faith, he also confirms his own position as God Incarnate through his intimate knowledge of heaven.

How do we experience God’s presence with us in our time?  Is he confined to small descriptions and spaces?  Or is he the God of the Cosmos, creator of the universe and omnipresent in all places and times - the great Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  We the church are his body in the world until his coming again.  As those who in Jesus’ ministry on earth experienced his love, forgiveness, wisdom, and grace, how do guests who visit our church experience him?  Do they find those qualities in the current body of Christ?  We the body are to emulate his life as best we can so that we become the channels of his mercy and grace in the world, and those who see us know that God is at work in our church.

Mother Mary closed with the words of the reading from Isaiah.  The coming of the Lord brings much in which to rejoice – the blossoming desert, streams in the wilderness, strengthened hands and knees, the lame leaping like a deer, and speechless tongues singing with joy.  And finally, the highway we all long to take, that Holy Way where the unclean shall not travel but only the redeemed shall walk there, where everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.

The Great Promise

Sermon Summary for Sunday, November 27th, 2016 | Respectfully Submitted by Floyd Braid

The first Sunday of Advent marks the first change in seasons of the church liturgical calendar.  Colors change, music changes, and schedules change as the community prepares spiritually for reflection and celebrations that come with the Advent season.  Unfortunately, in all the “preparation” and busyness that often swallows up most of this season, we often lose sight of what we are called to do by the scripture:  “Wait.”  Just wait, with anticipation of the coming of the Messiah.  It is this waiting that we have struggled with for over 2,000 years.  No one likes to wait in line or at a long light.  We have things to do and in this culture, for some reason, we must do it fast.  There is no short cut or express pass to the “Great Promise” Christians have been waiting for for centuries.  The season of Advent should remind and reconnect us to the act of waiting and how that waiting connects us to Christians throughout history.  The Great Promise is simple and powerful:  the messiah will come again.