Showing posts from December, 2013

Promise of Presence - Sermon from December 29, 2013

If you would like to see a video of the sermon, please click here . There they sit in eager anticipation at 6:00 in the morning.  They sit impatiently waiting to see what surprises may be just down the stairs.  They wait quietly for what seems like an eternity.  At 6:00 I'm the morning.  At 6:05 the youngest cannot take it any longer.  She shouts, “Can we come down yet?”   “No, not yet,” comes the adult voice from the living room.   Curses…more waiting.   At 6:08, 6:12, and 6:15, the scene repeats itself each time with the exact same result.  More waiting.  The children eventually work their way down two or three steps and wait again.  This time, there is nothing quiet about their waiting.  Now they are in full excited breathy “whispering” which can be heard throughout the entire house about what they might expect to see under the tree.   “Kids, it’s still not time,” now it’s mom’s voice ringing from just downstairs.  “You are going to have to wait.” How can she not

Advent - Week 4 - Love

Week 4 This week we light the fourth candle of Advent Wreath.  We light this candle to symbolize the gift of God’s love in Jesus Christ.  Questions: What is love? When you think of love, what comes to mind first? Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:  "L

Advent - Week 3 - Joy

Week 3  This week we light the third candle on the Advent wreath. “We light this candle in great joy; Jesus is our joy!” Questions: What is joy? What do you think of when you consider what it might mean to live a life characterized by joy? Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you." Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall bre

Advent - Week 2 - Peace

Week 2  This week we light the second purple (or blue) candle on the Advent wreath. “We light this candle in peace; Jesus is our peace.” Questions: In your mind, what does peace look like? What would it mean for you to have peace? Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10 "A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard s

Advent: Resiliency of Hope

Isaiah 11:1-2 A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse; a branch will sprout from his roots. The Lord’s spirit will rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of planning and strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. The following was originally found on a blog hosted by Rev. Katie Snipes Lancaster.  You will find posts for each day of Advent written by people from many different faith traditions.  Click here to read the blog each day.  I was honored to have been asked to add to this collection of writings. Hope is resilient. I came home from work one afternoon to find our white birch tree split in half and lying on our fence.  Sadly, it was time to say goodbye.  We hired someone to cut it down and haul it away.  In one afternoon, the tree that once stood tall and proud in our backyard was reduced to nothing more than a stump – a sad reminder of what once was. But hope is resilient. Isaiah writes the words of prophecy found in our text

Advent - Week 1 - Hope

Throughout the season of Advent there will be one post each week containing one of the Advent passages and a short devotional on the text.  Use them by yourself, with a group or with your family. If you have an Advent Wreath, you might want to use it as you read and participate in these devotionals. It is our hope that Advent would be a quiet season of preparation for the birth of the Messiah. Week 1  - This week we light the first purple (or the blue) candle in the Advent wreath. “We light this candle in hope, the bright hope of Jesus, the Christ.” Questions: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the word hope? Who in your life do you think of as an example of hope? What gives you hope? Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-5 "The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall strea