Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night ThoughtsLive Streaming

Today at church we tried something new – not without glitches – but not completely unusable.  We live streamed our service.  The cool thing is that we had at least (that I know of) “tune-in.”  James did a great job managing all the tech stuff today.  He was alone in the tech booth – taking care of sound/video and the streaming.  Fortunately the streaming and sound are not real complicated for our church.  I thought it went well.  We need to work on a couple of things.  One is providing a hard-wired connection to the laptop that is streaming. The other is getting a better video camera.  The sound off the board was good (I need to work on the balance a little.) I think we are well on our way to making this a permanent feature.

Otherwise today’s worship service was good.  The congregation really sang out as we sang several familiar Christmas carols and yet not ones that we have sung ever year, like “O Holy Night.” That is not an easy congregational song and yet our congregation did very well.  A man in our congregation shared a song that he wrote for the special music – that was cool.  The only problem we had was a wireless mic that decided to go rogue on us.

Pam is doing well and recovering although she is a little tired and has already gone to bed for the evening.  James and I are on the couch looking at our tree – it’s so quiet and I love it.  This coming week is going to be compact – I’m working tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday.  The good thing is that I already have the songs picked out for Sunday!  More Christmas carols as Sunday is the first Sunday in Christmas.  This year we even have a second Sunday of Christmas – although I think the song selection will be more focused on the three kings, being that Epiphany is the next day.

It’s warm and not feeling much like Christmas today – and we’ve had quite a bit of rain.  But the weather will change – even as we speak, it’s getting colder.  It will feel more like Christmas – although I haven’t seen any snow in the forecast. So there will be no repeat of last year’s sliding on the ice.

That’s about all I have.  Pressing On!

Sunday Set List

Sunday Set List MainDecember 22, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Opening Song            Angels from the Realms of Glory

Welcome and Announcements

Advent Candle Lighting 

Songs of Worship  

Jesus Saves

O Holy Night


Song of Worship

What Child Is This?

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Worship through Giving

Worship through God’s Word

Because of Bethlehem: We Have Hope

Closing Song

Joy Has Dawned



The Fourth Advent Candle

via Jesus Creed


Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY.

Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.

Jesus demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, let us be love also.

In the Book of Deuteronomy we find these words:

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
– Deuteronomy 10:17-19a

From the Gospel of John we hear:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
– John 13:34-35

Let us pray:
Teach us to love, O Lord. May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ’s footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives. As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world, that all may know your love and the one whom you have sent, your son, our Savior. Amen.

Prayer for the Week


Fourth Sunday of Advent

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

An Easy – Yet Fast Week

1471178_733451470017161_877739990_nI don’t know how this came about, but I have been quiet the inspired runner of late.  Several of my runner friends warned me of the letdown that happens after a major accomplishment.  That major accomplishment was the Richmond Marathon.  So I really tried to guard against that.  In fact, I went right back to running on Monday even though it was short and slow.  In the weeks since Richmond (it’s been just over four) I have been concentrating on faster, yet shorter runs.

This week I went out on three runs – Monday (6 Miles), Tuesday (5 Miles) and today (8 miles.)  All of the runs this week were intense in the speed department.  None of my runs were slower than an 8:15/mile pace – even today’s 8 miler.  That tells me that I really need to increase the intensity of the shorter runs.  My goal right now is to get to an 8 minute mile at a consistent pace.  It’s been a while since I’ve even been at the pace that I’ve hit consistently this week.  Part of that is because my weekly mileage is low (20 to 25 miles.) The other part is that I am intentionally going out and running faster.  I know that some runners are good at working on endurance and speed at the same time.  For me it seems like one or the other.  Right now, I am concentrating on speed.  I am trying to break several personal bests this spring.  I would like to complete the 1/2 marathon in under 1:45:00 or faster.  The other is that I would like to break the 24 minute barrier on a 5K.  I would really like to  break the 23 minute barrier, but I haven’t broken the 24 minute barrier yet.  A 23 minute 5K would mean breaking the 7:30/pace – barring any injuries – I think I could do that.  I’ll have to work hard – but that would really help the 1/2 marathon.

I have been enjoying this post marathon season.  It will be just a few weeks until training in earnest begins again.  But right now I run because I want to run.  Pressing On!

A Prayer for God to Be With Us

adventbanner2013_notextFourth Sunday of Advent (December 22, 2013)

Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

1 Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock.
O God, enthroned above the cherubim,
    display your radiant glory
2     to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Show us your mighty power.
    Come to rescue us!

3 Turn us again to yourself, O God.
    Make your face shine down upon us.
    Only then will we be saved.
4 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies,
    how long will you be angry with our prayers?
5 You have fed us with sorrow
    and made us drink tears by the bucketful.
6 You have made us the scorn of neighboring nations.
    Our enemies treat us as a joke.

7 Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies.
    Make your face shine down upon us.
    Only then will we be saved.

17 Strengthen the man you love,
    the son of your choice.
18 Then we will never abandon you again.
    Revive us so we can call on your name once more.

19 Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
    Make your face shine down upon us.
    Only then will we be saved.

In our Psalm this week, we hear David’s cry for God to come down to us.  In the last verse we are reminded that is only because God came to earth that we can be saved.

As I wrote earlier this week, this idea of God with us has really hit home.  The idea that God would come in the form of a human and lay down all of his rights and be subject to all the weaknesses of the human body – to come as a servant – to come as a slave – to be obedient all the way to the cross and to death.  A God who loved us that much that He would do all of that for us.

It is still really hard to imagine – in fact, it’s impossible -that God was crucified by his own creation – willingly.  No wonder the writer of Hebrews tells us that we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness.  In fact, it is only because God came as Jesus that we have this amazing access to the throne.

To finish off today’s post, let me leave you with Mighty To Save as sung by Laura Story:

Joy Has Dawned

This morning I was up early to re-record worship demos of the songs that we are singing this Sunday.  I normally record them on Tuesday afternoon so that the worship team can listen to the songs over the rest of the week.  This has proved to be a valuable resource – yes it takes time, but I found that it works better than using demo recordings.  One of the reasons is that I record the song the way we are going to do it, not the way someone else has done it.  We can customize it for our style and our congregation.  These recordings have really helped our singers so I continue to do it.

Yesterday I had recorded the songs, but somehow I lost the files on the laptop, so I was back up early this morning recording the demos.  I want to share some thoughts about this song and hopefully tomorrow share a thought about another song that I recorded this morning.

It’s no secret that I like what the Getty’s have been doing in the area of modern hymns.  This song is no different.  It is called “Joy Has Dawned.”

Here’s the line that hit me this morning as I was recording.

Joy has dawned upon the world
Promised from creation 
God’s salvation now unfurled 
Hope for every nation 
Not with fanfares from above
Not with scenes of glory 
But a humble gift of love
Jesus born of Mary 

Sounds of wonder fill the sky 
With the songs of angels 
As the mighty Prince of Life 
Shelters in a stable 
Hands that set each star in place 
Shaped the earth in darkness 
Cling now to a mother’s breast 
Vulnerable and helpless 

Shepherds bow before the Lamb 
Gazing at the glory 
Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story 
Gold a King is born today
Incense God is with us 
Myrrh His death will make a way
And by His blood He’ll win us 

Son of Adam Son of heaven 
Given as a ransom 
Reconciling God and man
Christ our mighty Champion!
What a Saviour what a Friend 
What a glorious mystery 
Once a babe in Bethlehem 
Now the Lord of history

This whole idea of God with Us – Emmanuel – that God would come as a baby.  The very God who put the stars in place – the very God who created everything – came to earth as a baby – as vunerable as a baby – as helpless as a baby.  What an amazing God we have.  I love the lyrics throughout this song as they tell the story of the incarnation – that God came in the flesh and dwelt among us — and they tell the story that God came as a baby to reconcile us back to himself.  That is pretty amazing to me.

Joy HAS dawned upon the world!

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night ThoughtsThird Sunday in Advent 2013

While I knew going into today that it was going to be crazy, little did I know that it was going to be one of those amazing days.  It’s been quite the weekend that started early.  Pam and I knew from Wednesday morning until tonight we would be pushing hard – and pushed hard we did.  From a full day at Chick-fil-A on both Wednesday and Thursday – a Christmas party Thursday night – a men’s breakfast yesterday (that happened to be snowed out) – our church’s annual cookie swap yesterday afternoon – an amazing morning of worship at Parkway this morning – a good Christmas party with my co-workers at Chick-fil-A and finally the capstone of the week and of the season – Tangled in the Tinsel.

P1030353Tangled in the Tinsel was billed as a Dessert Dinner Theatre.  We transformed our sanctuary into a dinner theatre setup.  Everyone brought dessert and then sat back and enjoyed the program.  Tangled in the Tinsel showed how even the best of us can get caught up in the season – getting involved in too many things.  We had six or so 5 minute skits with some musical numbers (both secular and sacred) that pulled the whole evening together.

Tonight I feel like a very blessed man.  It is an honor to serve at Parkway.  The cast did an awesome job – as did all the singers – and let’s not forget to mention the great job the choir did this morning.

Needless to say – stick a fork in me I’m done.  I need to go to bed and get some rest.  Pressing on!

Third Candle of Advent

via Jesus Creed

advent3Today we relight the first two candles of the Advent wreath. The candle of HOPE and the candle of PEACE.

Now we light the third candle of Advent.

This is the candle of JOY. As the coming of Jesus, our Savior, draws nearer, our joy builds with our anticipation of his birth.

From the Book of Isaiah we read the words of our Lord:

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.”
– Isaiah 65:18

From the New Testament, the words of Paul to the people of the church at Galatia:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
– Galatians 5:22-25

Let us pray:
We joyfully praise you, O Lord, for the fulfillment of your promise of a Savior and what that means in our lives. Thank you for the gift of salvation through the birth of your son, Jesus. Create us anew as we wait, and help us to see your glory as you fill our lives with your living Spirit. Amen.