First Sunday of Advent

First Sunday of Advent
December 2, 2007

Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:36-44

Yes, Advent is a time when we remember that Jesus came as a baby to earth. We call that the incarnation, but Advent has a dual purpose — it is also a season when we remember that Jesus is coming back again. All of the passages in this week’s reading deal with that to some extent. However, I want to quote Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.

11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.

I don’t know about you, but I sense the urgency with which Paul writes. If Paul was urgent in the 1st Century, how much more urgent should we be 2000 years later. There are a couple points that I want to make here:

  1. Jesus is coming again.
  2. We need to prepare ourselves for his coming.
  3. We need to live the lives that God has called us to live through His son, Jesus Christ.
  4. Live in the presense of Christ
  5. Stay away from evil.

Jesus is coming again, is your heart prepared?

The Season of Advent

This Sunday begins a new church calendar. The church calendar is different from the civil calendar — some of the holidays (or holy days) are in common, such as Christmas and Easter, but most of the other days of the church year are not part of the civil calendar. The church year begins with Advent and ends with Christ the King Sunday. There are several major blocks of time — Dr. Keith Drury discusses this markin of time in his book The Wonder of Worship. They are:

  • Advent
  • Christmas
  • Epiphany
  • Lent
  • Easter
  • Pentecost

This coming Sunday we being again with Advent. What does Advent mean?

The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.

Dr. Dennis Bratcher (a Church of the Nazarene professor) has a great website at CRI Voice, with various worship resources, including what I’ve posted above. I hope to do a bit more with the church year, this time around, explaining the whys of each part of the church calendar.

58 posts in 29 days?

It would appear that there was no case of writer’s block this month and that would be correct, but there was the live blogging from FLAME. There are times I have difficulty coming up with something, but November was not one of those months. In addition, there were over 400 hits to my blog this month — thank you, Wayne! He emailed several about the blogging I was doing from FLAME, so I had a nice bump in visits early in the month.

It’s interesting to see how people get here. One of the top ways people got to my blog this month was through search engines. What were they searching for?

  1. Pictures of Madrical dinners
  2. Information about nativity scenes
  3. Several different searches about other pastors who I have mentioned here
  4. A query about the Wesleyan camp in Denton

Today, I went over the 3,300 mark. Yes, small potatoes to the big blog market but I’m still amazed that I’m doing this 18 months later. Thank you to my small following; parents, friends and others. Blessings…

Wednesday Night Thoughts

To say that the last few hours were interesting would be a huge understatement. This afternoon I prepared to teach using the video that I posted below. I had planned to set the video up with several scriptures from Genesis 1:26-31, chapter 2 and all of chapter three. The key word is “planned.” I’m beginning to dread the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas because the students seem so wired. We had similar problems last year during this time of year. Let’s just say that before I got started teaching I found myself stopping a fight. I didn’t know that this was the Mosaic Pro Wrestling Federation (see, I still have a sense of humor about it.)

Thank you to Gayle for helping me out with that one, aren’t you glad you didn’t have the Middle School students by yourself? After we sorted all that out I had a chance to share with the students very candidly about their walk with Christ. I used the scriptures I had planned and then ran the video and then came out of the video with more scriptures that were planned and a few that weren’t. The scriptures were a heavy dose from Romans and I shared the gospel as plain and as frankly as I could and laid it on the line for our students.

I do believe God was in all this — one student received Christ tonight. My wife asked, “Did you think it was a good night?” I replied, “I believe with all my heart that Kingdom work was done here, despite the setbacks.” In addition, I got to talk with another student who is going through a particularlly tough time and I would ask you to pray for him.

After tonight, I am convinced that our students are in need of real revival and a passion for serving Christ. Could you pray for me in that way as God has chosen me to lead this important ministry to a small segment of students in Henry County. God is good and God is faithful. Carp Diem!

Worship Wednesday

While I was in South Carolina for FLAME, one of the students shared this with the staff and we used it as part of our chapel on Friday morning. I know that this has been around for quite a few weeks. It is a powerful representation of who we are — from created in God’s image — to sinful people draw away from our Creator — and then Christ came to earth and gave His life for us so that we can have a relationship with Him again. He cares about us and loves us. I put together a lesson from this video for our teens, which I share in a different post. Enjoy

Anna Quotes

My daughter Anna left a sheet with some interesting quotes on the table beside the computer. It had some interesting quotes. I love the last one.

  • No good movie is too long; no bad movie is too short. — Roger Ebert
  • Some people are so open-minded that their brains fall out. — Rick Warren
  • Hollywood can’t write stuff like this! — Dad (talking about the Bible)
  • Soprano 1 is the worst vocal range ever. Those sopranos think they are so great; like hitting an A flat is a big deal — Me. (Anna). Ironically, Anna is a Soprano 1.

I got a great laugh out of these and it provided a much needed comic relief this morning. I did think it interesting that I was listed — I guess it shows I’m getting through.

Pastor’s Pen – December 2007

It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the Advent season. As I write this, there are still leaves on the trees. It has been neat this week to marvel at God’s creation. To watch as He has painted in all the beautiful colors. I am thankful for the rain that we have had of late.
By the time you get this, Thanksgiving will have passed us by and my prayer is that you took the time to give thanks to God for the love and mercy and grace that He has showered on you during this past year.

As we approach this Advent/Christmas season, I again want you to what the season is all about. This will be my eighth season working retail. It gets very easy to get cynical of the whole season. But just because everyone else is running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to find that “perfect” present doesn’t mean that we need to be part of that. I want to encourage you to explore what this season really means.

Just to get a little different take on it. Listen to John’s gospel from The Message.

The Word was first, the Word present to God,present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.

We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

Think about that, the Word (that is God) became flesh and blood and he came to dwell here among us or move in the neighborhood. We call that the (and here is one of those $5 words) incarnation.

Jesus came to earth to dwell with his creation. He came to make God known to us. He came to die for our sins. He came to raise himself up to show his power and might and to conquer death, the grave, and hell. He ascended back to heaven to prepare a place for those He calls His children.

That’s a counter-cultural message. It’s not about us. It’s not about the gifts, but it is about Jesus. Make Him your focus of this Advent season. I love you all, Pastor Dale