December 2017

Prepare the way of the Lord!
Isaiah 40:3, Malachai 3:1, & Matthew 3:3 lift up the proclamation for Advent.
Isaiah reads, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord [YHWH] in the wilderness; make smooth in the de-sert a highway for our God.” Malachai 3:1 proclaims “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord [adonai], whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord [YHWH] of hosts.”
God makes a covenant, makes promises to us, and keeps them. It was such an incredible gift that it took cen-turies to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ to the world. It took the faithful preparations and responses of those entrusted with his gift of life to bring it to fruition. So, we ask ourselves as we pray, what is our faithfulness like? What is at the heart of our willingness to wait and prepare?
Secular Preparations
On one local radio station, they started playing Christmas music at Halloween! I’m glad it’s not the station I’m drawn to listen to very often, and a personal confession is, I don’t like a lot of secular Christmas songs; I want the ones that lift up our faith and God’s grace. We need God at the center of our lives. This Advent season we will look at the faithfulness of the people who were entrusted with the life of Jesus, and how we can now be faithful in our responses in very real ways today. Please join us and invite family and friends to join us too. A couple that I’ve grown to know in the last year, asked me if it would be ok if they joined us on Christmas Eve for our service. Halleluiah! I thought. Then, through their question, I was reminded of how I understand that many people today are intimidated to come into our church (any church), even fearful of our fellowship. We want to do all we can to help them feel at home, and see we all have a place in fellowship together.
Hospitality – Wednesday Bible Study & Sunday School Class –
During Advent we will be offering our Wednesday Bible study with a focus once again on preparing our hearts for hospitality. It is a great time of year to welcome old and new friends into our lives, especially as we prepare for receiving Christ into our hearts in new ways. I will also offer time during Sunday School in the “spare room” next to the All Stars’ room.
Consecration Sundays & Stewardship –
Thanksgiving and our Consecration Sundays begin a time of celebration of the gifts God has entrusted to us. Our commitments build trust in ways that help us to strengthen and expand God’s vision in our hearts, and take real action together. Thank you to all who have made a commitment; we’ve seen some real progress in narrowing our deficit. I remember what a young adult with a growing family shared with me this year: he felt as though his faith has really grown, once he understood and started coming to church feeling blessed to be able to share, instead of always asking himself what he would “get out of it.” God’s grace is an essential, pow-erful force in our lives.
Time & Talent –
Our thanks also to everyone who has taken part and made a Time & Talent commitment for 2018. Forms are available in the Narthex/Lobby, in front of the mailboxes. We have had good participation this year, and hope that those who have not yet made their commitment will do so in the next couple of weeks. Through our commitments together, we build trust and begin to see what is possible. Matthew shared a great message on the Parable of the Talents that is shared in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25:14-30. He shared examples from his own life of how we are often surprised by the unexpected abilities in other people. We often approach people with preconceived ideas of what other people are capable of. God has a way of transforming us in creativity to see new possibilities.
Many people try to subtly and not so subtly force expectations on others: Like someone who buys and gives tools as a gift to someone who is never likely to use them. Our faith leads to real commitment and sharing, even when we feel we don’t have much to give. On Time & Talent Sunday, Matthew and Lisa Miller shared a duet. During the message, Matthew lifted it up as an example for all of us in that we may feel we are not gift-ed enough to make a difference or want to share some of our gifts; he feels like his musical talents are a 1 compared to Lisa’s 10 in music. In Christ, we are led to share and take part, and not hide our talents. Focus on giving to God, not popularity. As Jesus taught in Matthew 25, it is the relationship of trust that God offers us that is the key. Trusting in God’s generosity and grace, leads us to stretch in the ways that we share, even when we don’t feel so talented or wealthy.
We look forward to growing in our hearts and faith this season, and throughout our lives and the year ahead. God’s blessings, Tim