First Sunday of Advent (December 1, 2013)
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 And now here we are,
standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is a well-built city;
its seamless walls cannot be breached.
4 All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people—
make their pilgrimage here.
They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord,
as the law requires of Israel.
5 Here stand the thrones where judgment is given,
the thrones of the dynasty of David.
6 Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
7 O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.
8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
“May you have peace.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.
This Sunday we start the season of Advent. The thing that really strikes me this year is this idea of waiting. Yes, Advent is a season of preparation – preparing our hearts for the coming of the newborn King. But it is a season of waiting. Waiting certainly isn’t something that we are used to doing in our American culture. I sit here on a Saturday morning typing thinking about the last 36 hours. People couldn’t wait to get out and shop and get the best deals for Christmas. We have been experiencing this Christmas creep for years.
I like this idea of waiting. It’s tough to do in a culture that expects everything right away. I work where we pride ourselves on delivering good food, fast. It is tough to create boundaries in such a culture.
Tomorrow morning my sermon will touch on two aspects of Advent – both the waiting and the watching. I read somewhere this week that we need to pull back a little – we are so used to going full on at everything – if we don’t pull back – if we don’t fast (I mean that in a greater sense than just eating) – if we don’t step back, it makes it so much harder to enjoy the extravagance of Christmas. One of the things that we have done intentionally at Parkway is to pull many of the decorations and wall hangings out of the sanctuary. The sanctuary isn’t quite as festive as it normally is. Next week, we’ll start adding some of the decorations back in. That way we get much more a sense of the difference.
My prayer for you this week is to step back from it all. Is everything so important that it has to be done just this minute? There is joy in the waiting – there is hope in the waiting. After all we have been waiting for Jesus’ return for some 2000 years now. That is one of the things that Advent is all about – waiting for the coming King. Are you ready to wait?
Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.
Thanksgiving Day, USA (November 28, 2013)
Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 100; Philippians 4:4-9; John 6:25-35
1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
May all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving.
“Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which “comes upon you,” but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.”
November 26, 1941
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
The tradition of celebrating the holiday on Thursday dates back to the early history of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, when post-harvest holidays were celebrated on the weekday regularly set aside as “Lecture Day,” a midweek church meeting where topical sermons were presented. A famous Thanksgiving observance occurred in the autumn of 1621, when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited local Indians to join the Pilgrims in a three-day festival held in gratitude for the bounty of the season.
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Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.
It’s really hard to believe that today marks the completion of another church year. It was interesting today – we celebrated Reign of Christ Sunday and Thanksgiving Sunday and yet the two seemed to meld into one. The one “thanksgiving” hymn crossed over into the coming Reign of Christ as did the Getty/Townend tune “My Heart Is Filled.” It was a great Sunday. Not to say that it wasn’t long. I’ve been on the constant go almost all day – getting ready for rehearsals (skits/choir) and getting my ducks in a row for this coming week, because it is a short one. Speaking of the upcoming week, not looking forward to this forecast.
I am however looking forward to spending some days with Pam’s family at Thanksgiving. It will be the first Black Friday that I haven’t worked in two years, so that will be nice.
The other thing I will be working on is a sermon for Sunday. It is the First Sunday of Advent, so I will be preaching a sermon called “The Waiting Game.” The first Sunday of Advent is about the hope that we have because Jesus came and that Jesus is coming again. While I normally don’t preach messages on the Second Coming of Jesus, I am really looking forward to this and planning the musical worship. The musical worship set is fairly set in my mind – with just a few tweaks needed. Because of the short week, I’m ending up working tomorrow and have to squeeze in a haircut as well.
It’s going to be an interesting week on the running front with the colder temps and the time constraints. But I’m looking to get in around 20 miles this week, just enough to keep everything loose. Then I’ll eventually try to get up into the mid-20’s throughout the rest of the winter so that I am ready for an attempt at a record breaking Park to Park run in April.
Anna will soon be texting me to let me know it’s time to pick her up. Later…Pressing On!
November 24, 2013
Reign of Christ Sunday
Welcome and Announcements
Call to Worship/Invocation
Songs of Worship
Sing to the King
Here I Am to Worship
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Song of Worship
Come Ye Thankful People Come
Worship through Giving My Heart Is Filled
Worship through God’s Word
Count Your Blessings
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.