Here is a [great series of posts] from blogger Mark D. Roberts on Advent. It includes an introduction to Advent and many other great thoughts about this preparation for Christmas.
We woke up to a beautiful late Autumn day here in the Shenandoah Valley. The air was crisp – there was frost on our mini-van, but the sky was blue and cloudless and there was the promise of 65 degrees this afternoon. By the time we arrived at church, the beautiful day was already taking shape. It was a different kind of First Sunday of Advent in that for the first time in about 5 or 6 years, it wasn’t a dreary, cloudy day. It almost had the feeling of a Spring day, sometime around Easter.
The worship today was great. Our first set of songs reflected on Jesus’ Second Advent (or coming). The congregation really joined the praise team in worship and we even taught a new song with a familiar tune. Pastor Barry preached on the hope that comes from sorrow. It was a great message that reminded us of the hope that comes from the little town of Bethlehem.
This evening we gathered with our students and rehearsed for our Christmas musical. I think it’s going to be really good and I encourage you to come and check it out. We have a great bunch of students who are prepared (along with some adults) to present the gospel. We present it on December 13 in the evening.
If you’ve been following my running this week, you will notice that I have followed a light running schedule – I’m trying to maintain at this point. We’ll get back to some serious fitness once the weather breaks. I’m hoping to get a run in tomorrow if the weather cooperates.
The parsonage is nearing completion. Much of the finish work is completed and only a couple of large items need finished. We are hoping to be in the house in the not too distant future.
This week puts us back into a more normal routine. There are lots of things to prepare for – December is a busy month. Remember there are many things to do to build God’s Kingdom. Let’s Seize the Day!
November 29, 2009
First Sunday of Advent
Welcome and Announcements
Lighting of the Advent Candle – The Candle of Hope
Songs of Praise and Worship
Sing To the King (Foote)
Days of Elijah (Mark)
Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending (Charles Wesley; Martin Madan/Henry T. Smart)
Connecting in Prayer
Songs of Praise and Worship
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Wesley)
O Little Town of Bethlehem (Vs 1) (Redner/Brooks)
Giving Back to God
Worship through God’s Word
The Little Town of Bethlehem
Hope In The Midst of Sorrow
Song of Commitment
Day by Day (Andrew Skoog; Caroline V. Sandell Berg; Oscar Ahnfel)
Mind over Matter
The last time I ran was 4 miles in 48 minutes on Tuesday. That was before some delicious cooking and Thanksgiving dinners and all that. I really didn’t want to run in a strange place and beside the weather really didn’t cooperate for any running (fog, drizzle, etc.) This morning was beautiful but cold, so I put it off and almost put it off altogether, but figured I ought to go out and get something in.
Today was one of those mind game days — I had to keep battling in my mind how far I wanted to go. I easily passed the one mile mark and before I knew it I was past the 1.5 mile mark and past the 2 mile mark. At that point I decided I should at least complete the loop, which I did. By the 3-mile mark I was wearing down and kept pushing myself to get to the 4-mile mark. When I reached that, there was no more pushing — I couldn’t go any further. I walked the last mile home.
Our Christian life can sometimes be just like that. I really had to push myself past that first mile. Sometimes we need to push ourselves to go past that first mile — to put in that first step — then the next part comes easy. But there will always be that need to want to quit. I had to overcome that several times during the run today. I knew that I wanted to run 4 or 5, but at first all I could think of running was one.
Today was one of those days that it was simply telling my mind to ignore what my body was telling me and go on. Perhaps you are in a place like that today — with God’s help, you can do it. Pressing on…
14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.
15 “In those days and at that time
I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line.
He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
16 In that day Judah will be saved,
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
And this will be its name:
‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’
Here we are at the beginning of another church year. This will be my fourth time through the church year and I was reminded in an article in Worship Leader Magazine that the church year is not here to be “liturgically correct,” but to help us focus on the centrality of Christ. The church year is built around the life of Christ. This morning we remember what it was like before Christ arrived here on earth. The people in First Century Israel were waiting for the promised Messiah. He would be from the line of David as mentioned here in Jeremiah. The people at that time needed a good dose of hope. I can’t say that it is much different today — people need a good dose of hope. This first week of Advent focuses on the hope that we have in Jesus’ coming. As a reminder the season of Advent is a season of expectation. Not only do we sense the expectation of the coming baby Jesus on Christmas, but it is also a season of preparation for Christ’s second Advent — advent means coming. So we also anticipate his second coming. Some our our selections for worship will reflect that emphasis here on the First Sunday of Advent. We have a hope that Jesus Christ is returning again for his church. We have a hope that Jesus came to earth to die for our sins and rose again to set us free from sin and death. We have a hope that Jesus is coming back, just as He said. I don’t know what you may be going through today — but Jesus came to bring us hope. Set your eyes on that hope.
Here is a great post on Thanksgiving by blogger and pastor Mark D. Roberts.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
This is one of those tough passages, because it hits most of us where we live. Jesus reminds us that he has given us everything that we need. We don’t need to worry about all that stuff. He will take care of us. Our responsibility is to take care of God’s Kingdom and live the life Jesus has called us and everything else will take care of it self.
In case you are wondering, I wrote this post on Tuesday night, so that I wouldn’t have to log in on Thursday. By the time you read this, I will be with my family celebrating the good things that God has given to us. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
I’m taking a few days off starting today. Our girls will be home in just a few hours and our Thanksgiving holiday will begin. Look for a return on Saturday. Blessings and have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!