First Sunday of Advent

slideshow_advent_2First 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?

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Prayer for Thanksgiving

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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

Psalm-100v4Thanksgiving 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.  

To Serve and Obey…

“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.” 

Graham Kendrick

This Day In History

November 26, 1941

photo35-1President 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.

To see more, click the link below:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-establishes-modern-thanksgiving-holiday

Sheep Go In Flocks

herdSome 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.

(Charles Spurgeon)