Holy and Loving

“A god who was only holy would not have come down to us. He would have simply demanded that we pull ourselves together, that we be moral and holy enough to merit a relationship with him. A deity that was “all-accepting love”would not have needed to come to Earth either. This god of the modern imagination would have just overlooked sin and evil and embraced us. Neither the god of moralism nor the god of relativism would have bothered with Christmas.”

The biblical God, however, is infinitely holy and infinitely loving.”

Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas, p47

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#adventarrival

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has revisited the famous Pillars of Creation, revealing a sharper and wider view of the structures in this visible-light image. Astronomers combined several Hubble exposures to assemble the wider view. The towering pillars are about 5 light-years tall. The dark, finger-like feature at bottom right may be a smaller version of the giant pillars. The new image was taken with Hubble’s versatile and sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3. The pillars are bathed in the blistering ultraviolet light from a grouping of young, massive stars located off the top of the image. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off the pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Denser regions of the pillars are shadowing material beneath them from the powerful radiation. Stars are being born deep inside the pillars, which are made of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust. The pillars are part of a small region of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region 6,500 light-years from Earth. The colors in the image highlight emission from several chemical elements. Oxygen emission is blue, sulfur is orange, and hydrogen and nitrogen are green. Object Names: M16, Eagle Nebula, NGC 6611 Image Type: Astronomical Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The above picture is called “Pillars of Creation.”  It is found in the Eagle Nebula.  As the caption says, the pillars shown are nearly 5 LIGHT years high.  As I did some research, I found the Eagle Nebula is 70 by 55 light years big.  

This year, one of our Wesleyan pastors wrote an Advent devotional series called Arrival. During each day of Advent and Christmas, there are various hash tag prompts.  Pam and I have been selecting pictures – sometimes stock photos – sometimes our own – that match the selected hashtag.  Today’s hashtag was #birth.  As I was searching for ideas for birth, I came across pictures for the birth of stars.  That led to search the term on the NASA website, which is where I came across the above picture.  

The Eagle Nebula is a star creator of sorts.  There are many stars being born in the mass of gasses that you see there. In Genesis 1, we hear that God spoke light into existence and creation continues to follow His commands.  There is a great song that was released this last year So Will I (100 Billion X). The song describes how God did that and then how much he cared for us.  

We have been posting these pictures on Facebook and Instagram.  I would encourage you to check-out #adventarrival on those social media platforms.  

Prayer for the Week

Second Sunday of Advent

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sitting in the living room – looking at the tree that was finished tonight.  It has been up most of the week, but we were missing the ornaments.  Tonight we got those on.  

Yesterday, we shuffled off to Buffalo.  Our daugher had tickets to see Hamilton, so we took her and Pam and I went shopping. It was a bit crazy.  

We were pleased to see the sun today. This was the second time in seven days we saw the sun which has been rare around here. It warmed up enough today to start melting the snow, but the sun is at such a low angle that it didn’t do much. 

We have had a good active week as we journey toward Christmas.  Our community clergy met this week.  This coming week we are going to Christmas carol together.  That should be fun. 

Pam and I have been working through an Advent devotional called “Arrival.”  It was put together by another Wesleyan pastor.  She has done a great job and has even given us prompts to put on Facebook and Instagram.  Search #adventarrival on either platform to see some of the things that have been put up.

As I wrap up this week, I’ll share my Spotify 2018 Christmas Playlist.  (Link)

That’s about it…Have a great week!  

Preparing for Arrival

Second Sunday In Advent | December 9, 2018

Malachi 3:1-4  •  Luke 1:68-79  •  Philippians 1:3-11  •  Luke 3:1-6

It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness. Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. Isaiah had spoken of John when he said,

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
    Clear the road for him!
The valleys will be filled,
    and the mountains and hills made level.
The curves will be straightened,
    and the rough places made smooth.
And then all people will see
    the salvation sent from God.’”

Luke 3:1-6 New Living Translation (NLT)


The gospel writer Luke, gives us the greatest detail when it comes to Jesus’ birth.  He tells us of the prophecy of John the Baptist and his subsequent birth.  We also get the narrative between Elizabeth and Mary and the traditional Christmas reading of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem and the shepherds and the angels.  Then there is the telling of Jesus’ presentation and Simeon and Anna.  We get a brief glimpse of Jesus again at 12 years old when his parents lose him during a passover.  Luke skips ahead to a grown up John the Baptist.  

We learn that John is traveling on both sides of the Jordan River and preaching baptism and repentance.  John the Baptist tells the people that they must repent in order to have their sins forgiven.  Luke repeats the words of the prophet Isaiah.


“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
    Clear the road for him!
The valleys will be filled,
    and the mountains and hills made level.
The curves will be straightened,
    and the rough places made smooth.
And then all people will see
    the salvation sent from God.’”

Isaiah 40:3-5

John the Baptist is a forerunner of Jesus. He reminds us that someone is coming (which is the theme of Advent) to save the people from their sins.  John’s teachings that follow foretell what Jesus will preach.  John was a fiery preacher – the hellfire and brimstone type. He minced no words.  John was fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah by preparing the way of the Lord.  He was telling people to prepare their hearts for the coming Messiah.  John knew that Jesus was on his way – after all – I’m sure Elizabeth and Mary talked beyond the narrative in chapter 1 and I’m sure they told their children. 

John told the people then and it’s a reminder to us – that we should prepare the way for the coming Lord.  After all the Advent hymn “Joy to the World” tells us “Let every heart prepare him room.”  Is there room in your heart for Jesus?  Are you preparing the way? Are you preparing your heart for the arrival of Jesus?