Revelation of Liberation

1/22/2023

Message Title: Revelation of Liberation
Theme:
Revealing Revelations
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: Isaiah 9:1-4
Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:12-23
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
Focus:  God’s design liberates His people.
Function:
To participate in shattering yokes.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 4:12-23 Now when Jesus heard that John was arrested, he went to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum, which lies alongside the sea in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what Isaiah the prophet said: 15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,  alongside the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles,16 the people who lived in the dark have seen a great light,  and a light has come upon those who lived in the region and in shadow of death.[e]17 From that time Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” 18 As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” 20 Right away, they left their nets and followed him. 21 Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and 22 immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.23 Jesus traveled throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues. He announced the good news of the kingdom and healed every disease and sickness among the people.

EVERYDAY REVELATIONS:

  1. Audience Engagement: Could someone define “late-stage capitalism”?
    1. An entry on Urban Dictionary .Com says “There is no single way to define late-stage capitalism, as the effects are most often seen on a micro scale and the scope is very broad as a result of the plethora of industries.
      Some of the various examples of late-stage capitalism could include, but are not limited to: profiting off of your attractive physique, selling your personal data, selling your poop, dropshipping, house flipping, game companies making every single game pay-to-win, news corporations putting paywalls on their news sites, smartphone companies removing the headphone jack to save money, paying people to say positive affirmations, etc etc.”[1]
      1. Every company charging subscriptions even when you already purchased the product
      1. No hobbies only “side hustles”

TRANSINTION:  – yoke of slavery in our lives

MAIN TEXT: Isaiah 9:1-4 Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be exhausted. At an earlier time, God cursed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but later he glorified the way of the sea, the far side of the Jordan, and the Galilee of the nations. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. You have made the nation great; you have increased its joy. They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice. As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them, the staff on their shoulders,and the rod of their oppressor.

EXPLAINATION & INTERPRETATION:

  1. Isaiah context
    1. Zebulun & Naphtali – MAPs (12 tribes, N & S kingdoms, Jesus’ time)
      1. These are territories part of the Northern Kingdom of Israel that were destroyed by Assyria before Isaiah’s message.
  2. Christian vs. Jewish interpretation: (first, this portion in the Jewish scriptures starts at Isaiah 8:23)
    1. “made the nation great”
      1. Jewish: “They have become aggrandized to all who hear of them, when the nations heard the miracles that were performed for them.”[2]
        1. It has come to the attention of other nations what God has done for them. They are celebrated for the work of their God by other nations.
      1. Christian: Frequently Christians get confused about this language and want to “transpose” America into the place of Israel in scripture. i.e. If [America] shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven (2 Chronicles 7:14 adapted).
        1. Christians in America are not the New Israel. – Christians around the world are citizens of the Kingdom of God – & God hasn’t abandoned the Jews. (Heb 11)
      1. Jews and Gentiles have distinct relationships with God, we don’t need to try to be our sibling. – Look into the discussion surrounding Acts 15 & the Jerusalem Council for more information.
    1. “shattered the yoke”
      1. Jewish: “The yoke which was a burden to Hezekiah, and that he bent his shoulder for this heavy burden to pay harsh tribute, and the rod with which he had oppressed Hezekiah.”[3]
      1. Christian: Jesus’s death & Resurrection set us free from the yoke of sin.

APPLICATION:

  1. As we discussed last week, the words of scripture have layers. The words for the people who originally received it, the words for us today, and the words for believers in the future.
    1. I look at this world and my heart is filled with a desire to see the shattering of earthly yokes and not only spiritual ones.  –not attempt to shatter physical yokesàDoesn’t matter that they died in slave labor because their soul was saved…
  2. BACK TO INTRO: I think a perfect example of late-stage capitalism is from 2017: In 2017 an Apple factory in China added nets to their buildings in order to minimize employee death by suicide. “The corporate response spurred further unease: Foxconn CEO, Terry Gou, had large nets installed outside many of the buildings to catch falling bodies. The company hired counsellors and workers were made to sign pledges stating they would not attempt to kill themselves.”[4] – save their bottom line
  3. Ways to bring about the liberation of Christ:
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: what yokes are we supposed to shatter?the Kingdom of God knows no borders
    1. The yoke of capitalism:
      1. do things for joy and do not try to make a dollar off of every hobby—
        1. paint, make soap, make music, garden, sew, build bookshelves
      1. pay attention to where your products come from:
        1. “Made in USA” “Goods produced in American Samoa (a United States territory) are entitled to attach a “Made in USA” label, as this is an insular area of the United States. This area has until recently had few of the labor and safety protections afforded United States workers, and there have been a number of cases of sweatshop operators exploiting labor forces imported from South and East Asia. The Northern Mariana Islands is another U.S. possession in the Pacific that was exempted from certain U.S. wage and immigration laws until 2007, where the use of the “Made in USA” label was likewise controversial. The label is controversial also since all U.S. insular areas, except Puerto Rico, operate under a customs territory separate from the U.S., making their products technically imports when sold in the United States proper.” (Wiki)
      1. Buy it for life
        1. Skip the “Fast fashion” and buy second hand AND learn to repair your clothing
        1. Purchase items for long term use rather than buying cheap items that will not handle extensive usage.
    1. The yoke of politics – loyalty to a certain political party above Christ
    1. The yoke of self-absorption  – loyalty to self above others (Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourself).

CONCLUSION: Today’s revelation: God’s salvation manifests both spiritually and physically. God’s people are agents or catalysts of the physical salvation.


[1] https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=late-stage%20capitalism

[2] https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15940/jewish/Chapter-9.htm/showrashi/true

[3] IBID

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/18/foxconn-life-death-forbidden-city-longhua-suicide-apple-iphone-brian-merchant-one-device-extract

Revelations of Salvation

1/15/2023

Message Title: Revelations of Salvation
Theme:
Revealing Revelations
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: Isaiah 49:1-7;
Scripture Reading: John 1:29-42
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42
Focus:  God promises to not give up on Israel.
Function:
To claim Jesus.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: John 1:29-42 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ 31 Even I didn’t recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he might be made known to Israel.” 32 John testified, “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove, and it rested on him. 33 Even I didn’t recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit coming down and resting is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son.” 35 The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus walking along he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said, “Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?” 39 He replied, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two disciples who heard what John said and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ[c] ). 42 He led him to Jesus.

SERIES INTRODUCTION: The season of epiphany is a season of discoveries or revelations. I like the word epiphany better than revelation in general, it prevents the confusion of revelation = end times rather than revelation = reveal (like a can of sardines peeling back the top). Revelations expose the truth. You can’t go back to life before the revelation; the knowledge changes you.  These Ah-ha! Moments teach us something new about Jesus as the Christ.We will read passages from the Old Testament and look at different ways God reveals truth to God’s people with the hope of training ourselves to look for the revelation of Jesus as Messiah.

INTRODUCTION: Speaking of revelations, have you ever heard the phrase “I was today years old when I learned….” This popular trend on the internet has led to adorable and sometimes helpful discoveries.

  1. I was Today Years Old ….
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is a lesson or fact you learned embarrassingly late?
    1. https://www.boredpanda.com/today-years-old-people-share-facts/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic
      1. Donkey Nannies
      1. Harvest mice
    1. Snap/Pop Freeze Pops/Otter Pops to open them
      1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Btw what’s the best color?

TRANSITION: There may not be any cute harvest mice in our scripture today, but we may still have some amazing revelations.

MAIN TEXT: Isaiah 49:1-7 Listen to me, coastlands; pay attention, peoples far away. The Lord called me before my birth, called my name when I was in my mother’s womb. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, and hid me in the shadow of God’s own hand. He made me a sharpened arrow, and concealed me in God’s quiver, 3saying to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I show my glory.” But I said, “I have wearied myself in vain. I have used up my strength for nothing.” Nevertheless, the Lord will grant me justice; my reward is with my God. And now the Lord has decided—the one who formed me from the womb as his servant—to restore Jacob to God, so that Israel might return to him. Moreover, I’m honored in the Lord’s eyes; my God has become my strength. He said: It is not enough, since you are my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the survivors of Israel. Hence, I will also appoint you as light to the nations so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. The Lord, redeemer of Israel and its holy one, says to one despised, rejected by nations, to the slave of rulers: Kings will see and stand up; commanders will bow down on account of the Lord, who is faithful, the holy one of Israel, who has chosen you.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Context:
    1. Isaiah spans a LARGE amount of time- pre-exile, exile, aftermath. Some scholars think about 3 authors (Isaiah plus a couple disciples) wrote this one book and passed it down the generations.
    1. Disclaimer: language about the audience can be confusing in the prophets.
      1. God regularly calls his people Israel- as in the whole 12 tribes- but by the time of Isaiah the 12 tribes split in to 2 kingdoms (Israel in the North, Judah in the South). God still sometimes calls the people living in Judah/Jerusalem Israel.
    1. Audience: Isaiah starts after the Northern Kingdom of Israel has fallen to Assyria. The audience is most likely Jews in Jerusalem/Judea. 
  2. Revelation: God hasn’t abandoned Israel. Israel was chosen before its birth to show God’s glory.
    1. Isaiah 49 contains a beautiful poem about the servant of God who will restore Israel.
    1. Language in singular here. It isn’t until Ch. 56 that Israel becomes plural. This language leads to a variety of interpretations about this passage.
      1. Christians have interpreted chapters 49-55 as prophecy about Jesus, frequently this section is identified as prophecy about the suffering servant who will come to save us all.
      1. However, Jews see this as a prophecy about Israel – unified- and serving as God’s light to the nations.
    1. Is God’s reference to Israel a metaphor for someone who will perfectly represent God’s people or is this a text at face value talking about Israel finally being redeemed and restored with faithfulness to God?
      1. I don’t have a concrete black and white answer for you.
      1. You’ll just have to live on faith.
      1. Could it be both?

INTERPRETATION:

  1. A quick glance through the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Hosea, etc) we can see that Israel has lost their God given identity.
    1. Israel has not lived by the 10 commandments…. Nor the 613 laws they created to expand the 10 commandments for clarity.
    1. Israel has lost their heart while clinging to their label.
      1. In previous chapters, you can see Israel claim their preferential status because they are offspring of Abraham. But they have lost connection to the covenant of Abraham and the covenant of Moses.
      1. In Luke 3, John the Baptist even calls out the religious leaders who come to him for baptism and tells them that they can’t claim their heritage as their salvation.
    1. God will keep God’s covenant to Israel, even if Israel fails to keep their side of the covenant.
  2. The story of Israel, of Judah, is our story.
    1. We too can be lost in the wrong labels.
      1. “I’m a gold star Christian because I voted for X politician or support X political party.”
      1. “I’m a gold star Christian because I go to church.”
      1. “I’m a gold star Christian because I don’t say GD
    1. Loyalty to earthly tribes or powers doesn’t gain you preferential status.
    1. Legalistic or ritualistic practices of religion won’t gain you preferential status.

APPLICATION:

  1. I have a friend who jokingly used to say that he was a “quarter catholic” because one of his grandparents was catholic.
    1. However, many Christians in the Midwest claim their Christian faith not because of conviction or practice but because it’s what their family has done for generations. They claim Christianity because of heritage not because of personal belief.
    1. Heritage isn’t what saves us, faith in Jesus does.
  2. We may have learned about Jesus because of our Faith Family Tree. But our Faith Family Tree doesn’t save us, only Jesus does. Grandma Betsy doesn’t save us, only Jesus does.
    1. We can’t claim faith heritage or political party as our salvation.
    1. God doesn’t want your DNA. God wants your heart.
  3. Today we peel back the wrapping to reveal God’s salvation.
    1. Salvation isn’t complicated – believe in Jesus.
      1. Rom 10: 9-13 9Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. 11 The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame.[e] 12 There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. 13 All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.
      1. Acts 16: 29-33 29 The jailer called for some lights, rushed in, and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He led them outside and asked, “Honorable masters, what must I do to be rescued?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your entire household.” 32 They spoke the Lord’s word to him and everyone else in his house. 33 Right then, in the middle of the night, the jailer welcomed them and washed their wounds. He and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.
    1. No test
    1. No Gradebook
    1. No group project
  4. Baptism opportunities- family dedications
    1. Feb 29th? – Sunday school
    1. March ___ – after church
    1. Baptism on April 9th – during service

CONCLUSION: It’s not complicated but it’s also not easy. Faith isn’t about having all the answers. It isn’t about the 401k or life insurance policy. Faith is trusting that God is good even when we don’t understand. God has revealed God’s self to us through Jesus. This knowledge has forever changed us.

The Baptism of Jesus

1/8/2023

Message Title: The Baptism of Jesus
Theme: Baptism
Season: EPIPHANY
Main Text: Matthew 3:13-17
Scripture Reading: Acts 10:34-43
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 42:1-9 Psalm 29 Acts 10:34-43 Matthew 3:13-17
Focus: Jesus is baptized.
Function:
To make a decision about our relationship with Jesus.

SCRIPTURE READING: Acts 10:34-43 34 Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. 35 Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all! 37 You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism John preached. 38 You know about Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and endowed with power. Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone oppressed by the devil because God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of everything he did, both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him up on the third day and allowed him to be seen, 41 not by everyone but by us. We are witnesses whom God chose beforehand, who ate and drank with him after God raised him from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

INTRODUCTION:

  1. Audience engagement: How do you get into a pool when you go swimming? Are you the kind to dip your toe in first? Or are you the kind that canon balls into the water?
    1. “don’t get my hair wet” – grandmas swimming
      1. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/moms-put-on-that-swimsuit_b_5521937
    1. Kids practicing baptism with siblings

TRANSITION: We aren’t diving into the deep end but we will discuss getting wet today! The first Sunday in the season of Epiphany we celebrate the baptism of Jesus.

MAIN TEXT: Matthew 3:13-17 13 At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River so that John would baptize him. 14 John tried to stop him and said, “I need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me?” 15 Jesus answered, “Allow me to be baptized now. This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” So John agreed to baptize Jesus. 16 When Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up out of the water. Heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on him. 17 A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. All Gospels rarely all share the same story. They each have different audiences and goals in mind. Therefore, they structure their gospels and highlight details based on their audience and goals. Occasionally, a story overlaps. These accounts are considered big deals, i.e.: calling disciples, crucifixion, and the empty tomb.
    1. The details are never exactly the same, but the fact that a specific event occurs in each Gospel indicates the significance.
  2. Jesus’ baptism is covered by 3 of the 4 gospel writers. John’s version is a baptism of the Holy Spirit which details overlap with the other three accounts. (Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34) Bottom Line: This story was significant.
    1. All:
      1. dove rep Holy Spirit
      1. Voice saying this is God’s son – who heard it was different
    1. ¾:
      1. include Water
      1. God is happy with Jesus
      1. Followed by temptation in the wilderness
    1. John
      1. No baptism, instead he alludes to a baptism of the Holy Spirit.
      1. John’s gospel emphasizes Jesus’ divine-ness. Of course, he wouldn’t have Jesus subject to human practices like baptism.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. My baptism story- in a pond, 10 or 11. Scared of the fishes
    1. I went through a season of time where I didn’t feel secure about my baptism. I felt like I was too young and didn’t know what it meant. I even was hesitant to baptize young kids for this same reason.
    1. But baptisms aren’t for when it’s all figured out. They aren’t a period at the end of your faith. They are a capitol B at the beginning of your faith.  “I have decided to follow Jesus.”
  2. Scripture Reading: The Apostle Peter realized this in Acts 10 (keep reading 44-48). He was in a group of Christians that believed you had to convert to Judaism before you could follow Christ. After all, Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Then The Holy Spirit fell on a group of Gentiles and Peter had to admit that he was holding back the Gospel.
    1. God was not showing partiality, Peter was.
    1. God was not putting requirements on baptism, Peter was.

APPLICATION: To make a decision about our relationship with Jesus.

  1. It’s the New Year. Time to make a fresh start and set goals for your year. This is the perfect time to reflect on your faith and where you want to grow.
    1. Start a new spiritual discipline- prayer, bible study, worship time, fasting, etc (I have a great book of ideas if you’re looking for something new)
    1. Attend Bible Study
    1. Attend Sunday School
    1. Get Baptized or Remember your baptism
    1. Commit to faith practices for your family through Child/Family Dedication
  2. Stances & Definitions of Baptism- let’s do a little crash course on baptism together
    1. Traditional Baptist Belief: “For the one who experiences it, baptism should indicate an acceptance of Christ, a desire to be united in Spirit and in fellowship with Christ, and should function as a sign of discipleship in the times to come.” (The New Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches)
    1. For Baptists, baptism is a symbolic gesture you make to express your commitment to believing in Jesus and walking in your faith with a group of people (ideally the ones witnessing your baptism).
      1. Baptist can be sticklers about this – My ordination story-
        1. Baptists practice believer’s baptism by immersion most frequently, however we know it is not the mode that saves us. I will practice the mode of immersion unless through the process of pastoral care it is determined that the believer requires a different mode. I refer to the writings in the Didache, which are attributed by the early church to the Apostles. In Didache 7:1-5 it states: “But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and
  3. Interested in being baptized?
    1. Baptism Workshops
      1. Feb 26th  during Sunday School
      1. March 12 after church
    1. Baptism – April 9th  (Easter Sunday)

CONCLUSION: The beauty of Jesus’ baptism? That he opened the waters for the rest of us. We enter those same waters with Christ at our baptism. God didn’t change the plans to include us. Just as God intended Gentiles to receive the Holy Spirit, God intends us to be part of the family.

Back to Intro: we won’t remember what you looked like w/ your hair wet. We will remember your confession to follow Jesus. Don’t be afraid to dip your toe in the waters of baptism.

COMMUNION

Tiny Baby, Enormous Gift

12-25-2022

Message Title: Tiny Baby, Enormous Gift
Theme: CHRISTMAS SUNDAY!
Season: CHRISTMAS 1
Main Text:
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 98; Luke 1:46-55; Luke 2:1-20; John 1:1-14; Titus 2:11-14; Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 1:1-4
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14, (15-20); Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20; Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12); John 1:1-14
Focus: God came as a helpless baby to heal the world.
Function: To celebrate God’s plan through the birth of Jesus.
Other Notes: JAMMIES TO CHURCH – jammie parade

INTRO: Merry Christmas! Our Savior is Born! Everyone got their cocoa and treats? I’m sure there is plenty of treats left over. Any great Christmas Jammies or sweaters we need to notice?

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:

  1. Do the kids wait to open gifts until the adults are there?
  2. Do you open your stockings before the presents or after?
  3. Do you take turns opening gifts or all at once?

TRANSITION: Typically, this is a time for a sermon but I want to do something different today since it is only about once a decade that we get Christmas on a Sunday. We are going to read a series of scripture together to celebrate the significance of God coming as a helpless baby as a gift for all. (this will function similar to our Bible Study).

If you’re willing to be a reader raise your hand – I’ll pass out a passage to you.

GROUP ACTIVITY:

Promises Kept & Praises Sung

Isaiah 9:2-7 You have made the nation great; you have increased its joy. They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice. As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them, the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor. Because every boot of the thundering warriors, and every garment rolled in blood will be burned, fuel for the fire. A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom, establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of heavenly forces will do this.

Psalm 98 Sing to the LORD a new song because he has done wonderful things! His own strong hand and his own holy arm have won the victory! The LORD has made his salvation widely known; he has revealed his righteousness in the eyes of all the nations. God has remembered his loyal love and faithfulness to the house of Israel; every corner of the earth has seen our God’s salvation. Shout triumphantly to the LORD, all the earth! Be happy! Rejoice out loud! Sing your praises! Sing your praises to the LORD with the lyre— with the lyre and the sound of music. With trumpets and a horn blast, shout triumphantly before the LORD, the king! Let the sea and everything in it roar; the world and all its inhabitants too. Let all the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains rejoice out loud altogether before the LORD because he is coming to establish justice on the earth! He will establish justice in the world rightly; he will establish justice among all people fairly.

Luke 1: 46-55 46 Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord!

47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. 48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored 49 because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. 50 He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God. 51 He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. 52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. 54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, 55 just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”

Response: Any themes to note?consistent praises or actions of God

The Birth

Luke 2:1-20 In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom. Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.

Response: Anything new stand out?For me, the shepherds sharing the story was a new thing.

The Significance

John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Response: Why would John include this at the beginning of his Gospel?Why not be like the other gospels?

The Impact

Titus 2:11-14 The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions.

Titus 3:4-7 But “when God our savior’s kindness and love appeared, he saved us because of his mercy, not because of righteous things we had done. He did it through the washing of new birth and the renewing by the Holy Spirit, which God poured out upon us generously through Jesus Christ our savior. So, since we have been made righteous by his grace, we can inherit the hope for eternal life.”

Hebrews 1:1-4 In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways. In these final days, though, he spoke to us through a Son. God made his Son the heir of everything and created the world through him. The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message. After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right side of the highest majesty. And the Son became so much greater than the other messengers, such as angels, that he received a more important title than theirs. 

Response: Why is Christmas good news?the pressure is off our shoulders, its in God’s hands.

APPLICATION: Jesus is the reason we celebrate. How we celebrate varies depending on your cultural background. Eggnog, Hot Cocoa, Wassail. Oyster stew, Cookies, Birthday Cake, Gifts given, Gifts received, Time spent together: All of it celebrates the birth of Jesus. Hope for restoration.

CONCLUSION:  God turned this world upside down through the birth of Jesus and flipped expectations changing the world through a tiny baby. Join in the celebrations because Jesus is born! What an enormous gift! Our hope is here! Merry Christmas!

Lego Hogwarts Castle – a 3 month build

In 2018, LEGO released their Hogwarts Castle at the time it was the third largest set. I have always loved Legos but never owned a normal set of my own. I had “girl” LEGOS with purple and pink flowers, but never the real deal.

This year, Josh bought me my DREAM as an early Christmas present (and then he ended up getting me 2 other presents…). I received the set in October for Alex and Deandra’s visit. The goal was for us to have something fun to do together while we hung out at home.

Here are some pictures of the different stages.

  1. Alex & Deandra got things unboxed and sorted.

The beginning: sorting the four books of instructions and 40+ bags of parts.

2. Various stages of the build- much was started by Alex & Deandra

3. The final product: forgive my terrible lighting

We started this in October 2022 but I wasn’t able to finish it until January 17th, 2023 because of 1. needy baby girl and 2. a complication with a step in bag # 34 while assembling some stained glass windows.

I feel like we climbed Mt. Everest. My nerd heart is happy.

Disclaimer: the author of Harry Potter is a TERF. Building this does not mean I agree with her sentiments about trans folk. Trans-men are men. Trans-women are women.

Advent 4: peace

12/18/2022

Message Title: Advent 4: Peace
Theme: peace
Season: ADVENT
Main Text: All
Scripture Reading: All
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 7:10-16 Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 Romans 1:1-7 Matthew 1:18-25
Focus: Jesus coming restores life.
Function: To acknowledge the death and decay we carry while ask God to restore us.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING 1: Isaiah 7:10-16  READER:  JOSH

Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign from the LORD your God. Make it as deep as the grave or as high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I won’t ask; I won’t test the LORD.” Then Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Isn’t it enough for you to be tiresome for people that you are also tiresome before my God? Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel. He will eat butter and honey, and learn to reject evil and choose good. Before the boy learns to reject evil and choose good, the land of the two kings you dread will be abandoned.

SCRIPTURE READING 2:  Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19  READER:  BO

Shepherd of Israel, listen! You, the one who leads Joseph as if he were a sheep. You, who are enthroned upon the winged heavenly creatures. Show yourself before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh! Wake up your power! Come to save us! Restore us, God! Make your face shine so that we can be saved! LORD God of heavenly forces, how long will you fume against your people’s prayer? You’ve fed them bread made of tears; you’ve given them tears to drink three times over! You’ve put us at odds with our neighbors; our enemies make fun of us. Restore us, God of heavenly forces! Make your face shine so that we can be saved!..Let your hand be with the one on your right side— with the one whom you secured as your own— then we will not turn away from you! Revive us so that we can call on your name. Restore us, LORD God of heavenly forces! Make your face shine so that we can be saved!

SCRIPTURE READING 3:  Romans 1:1-7  READER:  BAILEY

From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s good news. God promised this good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake. You who are called by Jesus Christ are also included among these Gentiles. To those in Rome who are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

SCRIPTURE READING 4: Matthew 1:18-25 READER:  DUSTIN

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled: Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, And they will call him, Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means “God with us.”) When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus.

INTRODCUTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Have you ever gone caroling? What has caused the age of caroling to die out?
  2. Traditions that need a resurgence: Wassailing (wah-sul)
    1. “Here we come A-wassailing” – Christmas song
    1. To Wassail: The house-visiting wassail is the practice of people going door-to-door, singing and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for gifts; this practice still exists, but has largely been displaced by carolling. (Wiki)
    1. MARI LWYD (Mary Loyd): The Mari Lwyd is a wassailing folk custom found in South Wales. The tradition entails the use of an eponymous hobby horse which is made from a horse’s skull mounted on a pole and carried by an individual hidden under a sackcloth. (Wiki)
    1. The men would carry the Mari Lwyd to local houses, where they would request entry through song. The householders would be expected to deny them entry, again through song, and the two sides would continue their responses to one another in this manner. If the householders eventually relented, the team would be permitted entry and given food and drink. (wiki)
      1. Rap battle but carols and the winner gets treats.
      1. Doesn’t that sound great?

TRANSITION: some tradtitions die w/ change of culture.

SCRIPTURES:

  1. Isaiah 7:10-16
  2. Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
  3. Romans 1:1-7
  4. Matthew 1:18-25

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Isaiah 7:10-16- Even in our doubt, God provides
    1. God speaks the King Ahaz through Isaiah and tells Ahaz to ask for a sign.
    1. Ahaz refuses, it looks pious/reverent but really shows his lack of faith in God to respond.
    1. God gives a sign anyway
    1. Pregnant woman will name her child Immanuel/Emmanuel which means God with Us.
      1. The original Hebrew doesn’t say virgin – like Matthew quotes, it says young woman.
  2. Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19- Life after the pruning
    1. Considered a Psalm of help
    1. References God’s throne (the ark of the covenant)
    1. A plea to restore life in this death-filled situation
  3. Romans 1:1-7– Christmas is every day
    1. Paul introduces himself to the churches in Rome
    1. Foundation in Christ
    1. Jews & Gentiles are called to be God’s people
    1. Live in faithful obedience to Christ
  4. Matthew 1:18-25
    1. Joseph – the righteous one breaks the law:
      1. Spares his pregnant wife from stoning though required by law
      1. Names Jesus, which basically means he adopts her son & claims Jesus as his own.
        1. Jesus aka Joshua means God Saves
      1. I’ve said before that Jesus is Mary’s son, just look at the Magnificat in Luke 1. Jesus takes after Mary. BUT Jesus was Joseph’s boy- he knew what was righteous according to law but also what was righteous according to God’s will. (Pulpit fiction)
        1. He was the righteous one who doesn’t follow the religious culture but follows the essence of God’s law.

INTERPRETATION

  1. Isaiah: Merely following the law doesn’t mean you have true faith
  2. Psalms: Piety can look like admitting you’re wrong & ask for help
  3. Romans: We’re called to live in faithful obedience
  4. Matthew: Sometimes breaking the law is the “right” thing to do

APPLICATION:

  1. Matthew started his Gospel with the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph and then tells the story of Joseph adopting Jesus into his family. That list of names may seem boring or insignificant but as you thumb through the stories represented by each generation, you learn quickly that the holy family was a blended family– not a hallmark card. A family full of generational trauma/struggles.
  2. BACK TO INTRO: some holiday traditions die out, if anyone wants to try out Mari Lwyd, let me know and we can start a rap battle group. HOWEVER, God’s hope never dies.
  3. Emmanuel means God with us & Jesus means God saves us.
    1. Emmanuel comes whether we’re on the naughty or nice list.
    1. Emmanuel doesn’t give us coal for bad behavior.
    1. Emmanuel looks at the heart and restores us.

CONCLUSION: You belong in this family. This birth is for you. Emmanuel came for you. Jesus saves you.

Advent 3- Joy

12/11/2022

Message Title: Advent 3- Joy “Gaudete Sunday”
Theme:
O Come Emmanuel
Season: ADVENT
Main Text: all
Scripture Reading: All
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
Focus:  God’s promises are good for humanity and creation.
Function:
To embrace joy this season through the little things.
Other Notes:
CHRISTMAS PROGRAM TONIGHT AT 6:30PM! – NEED A READER!

SCRIPTURE READING 1: Isaiah 35:1-10 READER:  CHRISTY

The desert and the dry land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus. 2 They will burst into bloom, and rejoice with joy and singing. They will receive the glory of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the Lord’s glory, the splendor of our God. 3 Strengthen the weak hands, and support the unsteady knees. 4 Say to those who are panicking: “Be strong! Don’t fear! Here’s your God, coming with vengeance; with divine retribution God will come to save you.” 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be cleared. 6 Then the lame will leap like the deer, and the tongue of the speechless will sing. Waters will spring up in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, and the thirsty ground, fountains of water. The jackals’ habitat, a pasture; grass will become reeds and rushes. 8 A highway will be there. It will be called The Holy Way. The unclean won’t travel on it, but it will be for those walking on that way. Even fools won’t get lost on it; 9 no lion will be there, and no predator will go up on it. None of these will be there; only the redeemed will walk on it. 10 The Lord’s ransomed ones will return and enter Zion with singing, with everlasting joy upon their heads. Happiness and joy will overwhelm them; grief and groaning will flee away.

SCRIPTURE READING 2: Psalm 146:5-10   READER:  ABBY J

5 The person whose help is the God of Jacob— the person whose hope rests on the Lord their God—is truly happy! 6 God: the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, God: who is faithful forever, 7 who gives justice to people who are oppressed, who gives bread to people who are starving! The Lord: who frees prisoners. 8 The Lord: who makes the blind see. The Lord: who straightens up those who are bent low. The Lord: who loves the righteous. 9 The Lord: who protects immigrants, who helps orphans and widows, but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn! 10 The Lord will rule forever! Zion, your God will rule from one generation to the next! Praise the Lord! 

SCRIPTURE READING 3: James 5:7-10   READER:  RILEY

7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord. Consider the farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth. 8 You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t complain about each other, brothers and sisters, so that you won’t be judged. Look! The judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of patient resolve and steadfastness. 

SCRIPTURE READING 4: Matthew 11:2-11  READER: MARCIA

2 Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, 3 “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4 Jesus responded, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. 5 Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them. 6 Happy are those who don’t stumble and fall because of me.” 7 When John’s disciples had gone, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John: “What did you go out to the wilderness to see? A stalk blowing in the wind? 8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed up in refined clothes? Look, those who wear refined clothes are in royal palaces. 9 What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 He is the one of whom it is written: Look, I’m sending my messenger before you, who will prepare your way before you. 11 “I assure you that no one who has ever been born is greater than John the Baptist. Yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

CHRISTMAS TRADITION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGMENT: Do you have a favorite American Girl doll?
    1. Original 6 – I had Josephina.
  2. Kirsten was a Swedish immigrant
    1. Saint Lucia?- Swedish tradition “Light in the Dark”
    1. “Lucia Day – also called Saint Lucy’s day – can be traced back to the 4th century. A Christian feast day, it commemorates the martyr Lucia of Syracuse, who, as legend has it, brought food to Christians hiding in Roman catacombs, lighting her way with a candlelit wreath on her head.

The 13 December was the historic Julian calendar’s shortest day, and according to Swedish folklore, the long night was dangerous, with dark spirits out in force. Staying awake was paramount, and eating helped – another connection to the small feast associated with today’s Lucia celebration. Lucia made her first recorded appearance in a Swedish rural home in 1764, but the custom really established itself in the 1900s.”[1]

  • Aside: Dear America books would be the next step up for your reader who has graduated past the American Girl books.

TRANSITION:  St. Lucia is celebrated because of her devotion to Christ’s people. Her actions point to Christ as does the season of advent. She was celebrated for bringing food, our text today points to the things we will receive in Christ.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Isaiah 35:1-10 – Promise
    1. Timing: 1st Isaiah, just before Babylon attacks!
    1. Like last week, we see promises of both nature and humanity flourishing under God’s design
      1. The wounded are healed and disabled are no longer held back by limitations
      1. The earth is healed
      1. The vulnerable are safe and provided for
  2. Psalm 146:5-10 – Promise
    1. One of the last 5 psalms are praising God with repetitive “Hallelujahs”
    1. This God heals, restores, liberates, adopts, protects
    1. This is a God worthy of praise
  3. James 5:7-10 – Wait
    1. James writes a letter to Jesus’ followers (not a specific church)
    1. This letter is a message of encouragement to Christians to stay faithful to Jesus no matter the circumstance.
    1. This section calls for remaining faithful while patiently waiting— probably one of the hardest things a Christian is asked to do “wait.”
  4. Matthew 11:2-11 – Validate (look for ways God has already shown up)
    1. Part 2 of John the Baptist- flash forward just a little way from the reading last week.
    1. Jesus’ ministry has started and John has already been arrested.
      1. John’s disciples ask if Jesus is the one John’s been proclaiming about-
        1. Instead of giving a simple answer, Jesus quotes Isaiah – you tell me, I’m doing the work!
      1. Jesus affirms John’s ministry and fulfillment of prophecies.

INTERPRETATION: God is not slow in keeping promises 2 Peter 3:9

  1. This week I resonate strongly with our passages in Isaiah and Psalms. I feel the waiting and am excited about the promises.
    1. On the other side of Easter, waiting on Christ to return is HARD—the second Advent is HARD.
    1. James tells us to patiently remain faithful.

APPLICATION: To embrace joy this season through the little things.

  1. It is easy to get lost in the consumerism of the holidays and miss the reason for the season.
    1. But I don’t think that means you can’t exchange presents on Christmas. – My dad’s dad used to say “It’s not your birthday, it’s baby Jesus’ birthday.”
    1. Instead of doing a total ban on Christmas traditions in order to make space for “the reason for the season,” let’s weave Jesus into each joyful thing.
      1. Bless others with baking cookies
      1. Give gifts because Jesus gave us the greatest gift of all
      1. Care for the vulnerable through donating to charities, volunteering, or inviting people into your home.
    1. Waiting vs. Instant gratification
      1. Doubt isn’t a sin but a tool to look again
        1. Search your story, search stories of others (God Shows up)
      1. Privilege to wait
        1. Experience wonder
    1. Use the joy of the season to encourage you to remain faithful all year long.
      1. Joy of every day things
      1. Joy of hope, healing, belonging, & safety
      1. Train yourselves to look for God showing up in the little things
  2. Gaudete Sunday
    1. Rejoice in the Lord Ps 85
    1. Nearness of the coming of Jesus

CONCLUSION


[1] https://visitsweden.com/what-to-do/culture-history-and-art/swedish-traditions/christmas/lucia/#:~:text=On%2013%20December%2C%20Sweden%20celebrates,midst%20of%20a%20dark%20winter.

Advent 2: Love

12/4/2022

Message Title: Advent Week 2: Love
Theme: O Come Emmanuel
Season: ADVENT
Main Text: All
Scripture Reading: All
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12
Focus: God folded His love for creation into the design.
Function: To embrace advent by living God’s love in our hearts and lives.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING 1: Isaiah 11:1-10 READER: BO JOSH

A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse; a branch will sprout[a] from his roots. 2 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. 3 He will delight in fearing the Lord. He won’t judge by appearances, nor decide by hearsay. 4 He will judge the needy with righteousness, and decide with equity for those who suffer in the land. He will strike the violent[b] with the rod of his mouth; by the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be the belt around his hips, and faithfulness the belt around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion will feed[c] together, and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow and the bear will graze. Their young will lie down together, and a lion will eat straw like an ox. 8 A nursing child will play over the snake’s hole; toddlers will reach right over the serpent’s den. 9 They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain. The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, just as the water covers the sea. 10 On that day, the root of Jesse will stand as a signal to the peoples. The nations will seek him out, and his dwelling will be glorious.

SCRIPTURE READING 2: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19   READER: CHRIS

God, give your judgments to the king. Give your righteousness to the king’s son. 2 Let him judge your people with righteousness and your poor ones with justice. 3 Let the mountains bring peace to the people; let the hills bring righteousness. 4 Let the king bring justice to people who are poor;  let him save the children of those who are needy, but let him crush oppressors! 5 Let the king live[a] as long as the sun, as long as the moon, generation to generation. 6 Let him fall like rain upon fresh-cut grass, like showers that water the earth. 7 Let the righteous flourish throughout their lives, and let peace prosper until the moon is no more. 18 Bless the Lord God, the God of Israel— the only one who does wondrous things! 19 Bless God’s glorious name forever; let his glory fill all the earth! Amen and Amen!

SCRIPTURE READING 3: Romans 15:4-13  READER: TAMMY

4 Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. 6 That way you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice. 7 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory. 8 I’m saying that Christ became a servant of those who are circumcised for the sake of God’s truth, in order to confirm the promises given to the ancestors, 9 and so that the Gentiles could glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name.[b] 10 And again, it says, Rejoice, Gentiles, with his people.[c] 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and all the people should sing his praises.[d] 12 And again, Isaiah says, There will be a root of Jesse, who will also rise to rule the Gentiles. The Gentiles will place their hope in him.[e] 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

SCRIPTURE READING 4: Matthew 3:1-12  READER: JOYCE

 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said: The voice of one shouting in the wilderness, Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.”[a] 4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.”

INTRO TO SERIES: Welcome to Advent- Yes, it started last week with Pastor Joy. But we’re all together!

As we count down the days to Christmas, we will prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God With Us through the examination of scripture and fun holiday traditions.

ADVENT CALENDARS:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you do advent calendars?
    1. For $800 you could have had a Swarovski advent calendar
    1. I love the look of the reusable wooden ones
    1. But let’s be honest, the cheap chocolate ones are more my budget!
  2. You can get calendars in just about any theme:
    1. Aldi calendars- beer, wine, cheese, hot sauce, candles, chocolate, pop figures, dog treats, etc
    1. https://www.aldi.us/en/products/advent-holiday-calendars/
  3. There is something magical about counting down the days to Christmas. It’s that carrot dangling in front of you encouraging you to keep going because Christmas is just around the corner.
    1. If only we could have “advent” calendars for the mundane things. They already have some for other holidays like Halloween. But imagine:
      1. Advent to Tax Season
      1. Advent to Oil Change

TRANSITION: Advent calendars remind us of the promise of Christmas. Let’s discuss our scripture readings and see what excitement is brewing behind God’s Word.

TEXT: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

EXPLAINATION & INTERPRETATION:

  1. God’s design has love woven into ALL creation Isaiah 11:1-10
    1. The Book of Isaiah covers a large window of time.
    1. The section here points to the coming of Assyria (which would wipe out the Northern Kingdom of Israel)
    1. Consequences are coming for God’s people but God reminds them of what God originally intended for creation.
    1. God’s going back to the plan- wolves & lambs laying down together, children won’t fear the serpent, no harm or destruction on God’s mountain. Doesn’t this sound beautiful!?
  2. We praise God because of his love Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 ONE TRUE KING
    1. A natural response to these promises is worship. While our psalm speaks of kings, it may not be talking about earthly kings.
    1. Psalm 72, a psalm of Solomon, speaks of kings while also portraying a perfect image.
    1. No king of Israel rules perfectly – no king today either- this psalm points to a perfect king, the One True King.
  3. God’s design includes Jews & Gentiles Romans 15:4-13
    1. Paul writes a letter to the Churches in Rome with strong instructions on how to live as Christ followers.
    1. Tensions between Jewish and Gentile believers was strong. This letter reminds both parties that God’s design originally included everyone.  
    1. (Paul also quotes the Isaiah passage)
  4. Our response to God’s design is to change our hearts and lives to get with the program Matthew 3:1-12
    1. Last but not least is the story of John the Baptist in the wilderness preaching and baptizing people for the forgiveness of sins.
    1. John is not claiming to be the messiah but the proclaiming that the messiah was coming. He reminded the people that God would fulfill God’s promises and they should be ready.
    1. How would they get ready? Changing their hearts and lives.

APPLICATION:

  1. Our God designed creation to be fruitful and flourish under the collaboration of God and humans. God designed things so lamb would not fear the lion and child would not fear the snake. We’re getting back to that place.
    1. Jesus is the man getting us back to God’s plan after humans have taken bunny trail after bunny trail.
  2. Knowledge of the coming Messiah SHOULD change us.
    1. Not because we fear going to hell.
    1. But because we’re so excited for what God is doing.
    1. We want to be a part of it!
  3. The second week in Advent is focused on LOVE
    1. We love because God first loved us 1 John 4:19’
    1. Everything about our faith flows from this truth.
      1. God loved first. God created out of love. God designed love. God calls us to love.
  4. GET YOUR ADVENT ON! Want to keep “Christ” in Christmas? Feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, love the outcast, forgive the wrongdoer, inspire the hopeless.
    1. Go ahead, eat your cheese or chocolate, enjoy your fancy crystals.
    1. Join in the celebrating& giving hope
      1. Dec 11th 6:30 pm Christmas Program – need readers
    1. Find ways to serve & show love:
      1. Jubilee Dec 10th – cooking & clean up
      1. Kokomo Rescue Mission Dec 16th
        1. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS TO DRIVE & DELIVER RED RIBBON CHRISTMAS BOXES IN THE KOKOMO AREA ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16 AT 7:30 AM. https://kokomorescuemission.org/events/ and fill out the Delivery Driver Sign-Up.

CONCLUSION

COMMUNION