Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday Night Thoughts.  It’s been a great week here in the Argot house – kind of a crazy week as well.  We got our first snow and it was quite a bit of measurable snow.  I don’t think I would have ever thought of a White Thanksgiving happening in the Shenandoah Valley and yet – that is what we had.  We had about 4 to 5 inches of wet, sticky snow.  This thanksgiving was quiet with just Pam, I and the two kids.  Anna had to work the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, and yet there was a problem.  Seems a water main broke just down from the Cracker Barrel and they had no water for the entire day.  We took her to work at 4 and she came home at 5:30.  They were really hopeful they could open for at least a portion of the day.

On Wednesday we had the 4 to 5 inches of snow.  We spent Tuesday getting ready.  I put up the driveway guides and found out what a linchpin was while trying to make sure the snowblower was ready.  Here’s the link to that story.  Like I said, the snow was heavy, wet, and sticky, which made it difficult to snowblow.  It kept wanting to jam up the snowblower.

Friday was a work day for me.  I helped open the store.  All seemed well – and I knew it was going to be a busy day.  Afterall, school was out and it was Black Friday.  Little did I know that there was a University of Virginia / Virginia Tech football game that night in Blacksburg.  We got slammed…by the end of the day you could stick a fork in me because I was done.

Saturday, I was finally able to get in another quality run – getting in almost 7 miles.  Pam and I got our final preparation in on our sermon that we preached this morning and spend most of the rest of the day relaxing.

Today we were up early and it was a good day.  I lead the worship service and Pam preached the children’s sermon and we tag teamed the sermon.  We preached on the importance of being alert and on guard as we took our text from Mark 13.  We also taught a great song called “Waiting Here for You.” The congregation picked up on it really quick and I look forward to adding it to our repertoire.

We even managed a little bit of a walk before our dessert theatre rehearsal and then we were on to children’s ministry and youth group.  Like I said it has been a great week – a little crazy but a good week.  I am looking forward to a more normal week.  We even get to celebrate Anna’s birthday this week.

Have a great week.  Carp Diem!

Sunday Set List

Sunday Set List Main

November 30, 2014
First Sunday In Advent
Welcome and Announcements
Advent Candle Lighting

Songs of Worship
     Sing to the King
     Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Worship Through Prayer
Songs of Worship
     The Light of the World Is Jesus
     Shine Jesus Shine
Worship Through Giving
Worship Through God’s Word
Song of Commitment
      Waiting Here For You

Prayer for the Week

Prayer_Banner_22-760x176Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Pressing ON!


The last two weeks have just been “one of those weeks” – both of them.  After a very satisfactory and fulfilling week of running that finished with a 13 miler – the weather and life caught up with me.  Since that 13 miler, I have run a total of three times – the Friday afterward, this past Tuesday and today.  The good thing is those runs have been encouraging – they have been somewhat fast – today’s was at an 8:34/mile pace – that’s not too bad considering the lack of mileage.

I do want to try to keep up the mileage because I don’t want to have to try to put together a quick paced training to get ready for the Park to Park this Spring.  That is just asking for trouble. I one point I didn’t feel like running, but I’m glad I did – it’s part of that perseverance thing.  I’ve looked at the weather for the week and it looks like it will be much more cooperative this week.

That’s about all I’ve got – Pressing On!

Advent Begins Tomorrow – Why Is That Important?

Advent Begins Tomorrow. Today Is The Last Day of the Christian Year. Should You Care?

From Mark D. Roberts

Tomorrow is the first day of Advent. In yesterday’s post, I encouraged you to get ready for Advent. Today, I want to think with you about the broader context in which Advent makes sense.

Today is the last day of the Christian Year, also known as the Liturgical Year or the Church Year. For those who follow the Christian Year, the latest one began last year on December 1, which was the first Sunday of Advent. We have moved steadily through Advent, Christmas Day, Christmastime, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday,Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Eastertide, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Christ the King Sunday, and a number of other holy days. The bulk of the year is Ordinary Time, not in that it is plain vanilla, but because it is “ordered.”

Should you care about any of this? Does it really matter?

Read more:

This calendar, by the way, is built upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Advent: We prepare to celebrate the first coming of Christ and anticipate his second coming.
Christmas: We celebrate the Incarnation of the Word of God, the birth of Jesus the Savior.
Epiphany: We remember the revealing of God through Christ to the whole world.
Ash Wednesday: We are reminded of our great need for a Savior.
Lent: We focus on the life of Jesus in preparation for Holy Week.
Palm Sunday: We celebrate the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem.
Maundy Thursday: We remember Jesus’ foot-washing and his command to love.
Good Friday: We worship Jesus who gave his life on the cross for us.
Easter: We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the victory of God.
Christ the King Sunday: We worship Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.

If we rightly understand the Christian Year, we will see it as a way to structure our lives in light of the life, ministry, and lordship of Jesus.

Mark, says it better than I can.  I want to encourage you to read the full article and then join me in our church year journey.

What Is Advent?

Advent6_slide1x_365_y_2732Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”.

Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.

Advent is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday. At least in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian and Methodist calendars, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, which is the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive.

First Sunday of Advent

6a00e550255d3c8833017d3e69afe8970c-320wiFirst Sunday of Advent (November 30, 2014)

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
    to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Show us your mighty power.
    Come to rescue us!

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

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.

It really is hard to believe that another church year has passed and we are on the cusp of another season of Advent.  This marks the eight time we have finished the course on this blog. This year we will be following Year B in the lectionary.  We started on year C in 2006.  For the next three years, we followed the readings from all the weekly readings and Pam or I wrote a devotional based on all three.  At the end of that cycle (a cycle being three years,) We looked at the Old Testament readings each week.  Then when we finished that cycle, we started our most recent trip looking at the Psalms.  When we are finished in 2015, we will have completed the Psalm cycle and will begin the Epistle cycle.

As you can tell, I love the seasonal nature of the church calendar.  I am looking forward to another journey through it.  I really want to try to blog more this year on the scriptures.  Over the last year I mainly just posted the scriptures, but hoping to get around to more devotionals this year and explanations of the church year.  I always start off well, but by Easter it all falls apart.

As I write this in the early morning hours – while much of the world is shopping for Black Friday deals – I am reminded what Advent is all about.  My body is recovering from a day of feasting that was Thanksgiving.  One of the most important things I want us to remember is that Advent is not Christmas.  Advent is a season of its own – it is a season of waiting – it is a season of preparation – in the past, it was a penitential season (the Christmas version of Lent) – a solemn time – meaning it was characterized by deep sincerity.  Don’t get me wrong. I love all the celebration of Christmas, We have even already been Christmas shopping…but it is so much more than a celebration….filled with lights…trees…presents.

Many years ago on this blog, I wrote about a Christmas party we had at church.  There would be a Christmas feast and then the congregation would share gifts with each other and with the pastoral family.   One of the teens who came as part of our van ministry showed up that night and was disappointed that she didn’t get anything – she said “I only came tonight for the presents.” Isn’t that the way that most of us approach Christmas?  We only do it for the presence and yet the great irony is that Christmas is all about the Incarnation – that God (in the person of Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us…as Eugene Peterson writes in The Message, “He put skin on and moved into the neighborhood.”  God desires to dwell among his people – it’s all about his presence and not about the presents.

I am determined more than ever this year to make sure it is more about the presence and not about the presents.  With that in mind, let’s take just a few moments to reflect on today’s passage from the Psalms.   Pam and I are preaching on Sunday, but will be using the Mark passage as the basis for our sermon.  We will also be reading from Isaiah during the Advent candle lighting.

The psalmist reminds us that we are sheep…it seems we are reminded about that quite a bit in the scriptures.  Then he asks the Shepherd to come save us…to show His mighty power.  We know that we are like sheep who have gone astray – this is a prayer for God to come rescue us.  As it applies to Advent – even now – we are longing for Jesus to come rescue us.  He asks us to be prepared for His coming.  How many were not prepared for His first coming?  Not many, but we do know of a few.  The very coming of God in the flesh was fulfilled in Jesus.  John reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world.  The psalmist finishes this psalm with a call for God to shine His light on us.

We are in a world that needs light – a world that needs hope – we are a world that needs Jesus – and the world needs us to be Jesus to it.  Traditionally the first candle of Advent is the candle of hope – it is also the prophet candle – Isaiah the prophet foretells the coming of Jesus – the light of the world.  I love that Advent is symbolized by the candles that we light each week.  It reminds us that the Light of the World is coming again.

I want to encourage you this year to prepare your heart for his coming – for his advent – not only the celebration of his first advent in the celebration of Christmas, but make sure your heart is ready for his second advent.

The hymnwriter Isaac Watts wrote many years ago, “Let every heart prepare him room.”  Make room in your heart for Jesus.

A Day for Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving-HD-Desktop-Thanksgiving Day, USA (November 27, 2014)

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Deuteronomy 8:7-18
    • Psalm 65
  • Second reading
    • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
  • Gospel
    • Luke 17:11-19

What mighty praise, O God,
    belongs to you in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to you,
    for you answer our prayers.
    All of us must come to you.
Though we are overwhelmed by our sins,
    you forgive them all.
What joy for those you choose to bring near,
    those who live in your holy courts.
What festivities await us
    inside your holy Temple.

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
    O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
    even those who sail on distant seas.
You formed the mountains by your power
    and armed yourself with mighty strength.
You quieted the raging oceans
    with their pounding waves
    and silenced the shouting of the nations.
Those who live at the ends of the earth
    stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
    you inspire shouts of joy.

You take care of the earth and water it,
    making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
    it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
    for you have ordered it so.
10 You drench the plowed ground with rain,
    melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
    and bless its abundant crops.
11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
    even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
    and the hillsides blossom with joy.
13 The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
    and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
    They all shout and sing for joy!

While Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t be the only day we give thanks – it is great to take a break and give God the praise for what He has done for us and who He is.

Here in the US, Thanksgiving has traditionally been celebrated in November, but has a varied history as you can see by the following paragraph:

Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday, Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November in an attempt to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states.[28] Because of the ongoing Civil War and the Confederate States of America‘s refusal to recognize Lincoln’s authority, a nationwide Thanksgiving date was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s.

On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. Two years earlier, Roosevelt had used a presidential proclamation to try to achieve this change, reasoning that earlier celebration of the holiday would give the country an economic boost.

Lately, the way we go about starting our Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day has made me doubt Roosevelt’s motivations.  I encourage you to read through the above Psalm – perhaps right before your dinner tomorrow – and give God the thanks that he deserves.  Have a blessed Thanksgiving!