As I write at 7:30 this Sunday evening, we are currently at a balmy 29 degrees. That is one of the highest temps we have had all week. We actually made it above freezing today. While we didn’t have any sun, it was one of the first time in a week that it didn’t snow. It looks like we may get some sun on Tuesday – with a high of 44. Tomorrow we are looking at non-freezing temps with rain.
We are currently in the heart of the Advent Christmas season. On Thursday night, Eldred had its annual Christmas parade. It was fun as we Christmas caroled with the Eldred United Methodist Church. Friday evening, we picked up James from Houghton – on the way home it started snowing and we were trying to get back to Eldred so that we could attend our community pastors Christmas dinner. We were able to do that, however, on the way to the dinner after dropping James off at home, we lost a windshield wiper. Fortunately the snow wasn’t too bad. We had a great time at our pastor’s dinner. It is great to be part of a community that has a great team of community pastors.
Yesterday, our family headed out to see The Last Jedi. Don’t worry, I won’t give away anything, but we did enjoy the movie. There were several profound quotes with spiritual implications. Maybe after more people have seen it, I’ll share some of those and what they mean for us.
It was a busy week for my on the van. I had an afternoon run everyday in addition to my and Pam’s regular Wednesday through Friday runs.
This morning Pam preached at McCrae Brook and did an awesome job bringing the word. It was fun for me to just lead worship and not have to worry about preaching. I’ve been leading the musical worship this month. There was a wonderful spirit in the service this morning. After the service, many in the congregation went Christmas Caroling at one of our member’s living centers. It was a great time.
This week we have two special events to prepare for. We are having a Blue Christmas or Longest Night Service on Thursday and then our annual Lessons and Carols service for Christmas Eve. These are some of my favorite services of the year. Tomorrow and Tuesday I have some extra bus runs, so I need to stay ahead of the game. Have a great week!
Third Sunday of Advent
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Third Sunday of Advent (December 17, 2017)
- First reading
- Second reading
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 | New Living Translation (NLT)
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.
While I know this, it was interesting to discover again that the Advent scriptures and readings do not necessarily “tell” the Christmas story. They are all about preparing the way. The Old Testament passage today, is one that Jesus reads in the synagogue and tells the hearers that the prophecy has been fulfilled in him.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
The Gospel lection (or lesson) for today tells about John the Baptist – the preparer of the Way. Advent is indeed a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus. Each of these passages today, look toward the coming of Jesus – and again – both his first and second Advent.
Paul in this passage in 1 Thessalonians speaks to us in preparing our hearts. With all the turmoil in our world today – and even in our country – it seems things are spinning – quite literally – out of control – Paul gives us directions, as believers, for preparing our hearts
The hymnwriter Isaac Watts wrote: “Let every heart prepare him room.” Christ is coming. Paul writes: “God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” So the faithful one, that is God, is calling his people to be faithful. This week, God brought me a verse that I currently have as my Facebook cover.
God who is faithful is calling us to prepare the way of the Lord. How do we do that? Paul tells us:
- Always be joyful
- Never stop praying
- Be thankful – in all circumstances (That’s a whole sermon there!)
- Do not stifle the Holy Spirit
- Do not scoff at prophecies – or the forthtelling of God’s word – however, test them to make sure they are of the Lord.
- Hold on to what is good
- Stay away from evil
As we remember that Christ is coming, this is a good list to remember. Paul prays for the believers that God would make us holy and blameless – set apart to do God’s work. God is faithful and he calls us to be faithful – no matter what, because Christ is coming.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday
It’s been a busy weekend for us. Yesterday, we prepped most of the morning for our annual Christmas Cookie Swap. We had a great time. One of the things that we did was play Madlibs. That’s always entertaining. We exchanged Christmas cookies and had a fun time of fellowship.
Last week our church bought us a new laptop and I spent most of Saturday evening making sure everything would work. I had a couple issues getting PowerPoint to work with EasyWorship, but after a few tweaks, I had everything running smoothly. Everything worked great this morning.
We had a good service this morning. One of the men came over after church to help me move our hope chest so we could start putting up the tree. We ran into a snag however. The tree went up flawlessly although it is starting to show its age. We bought it before James was born. Once the tree was up, it’s my job to put on the lights – hmmm! I have three strings of a 100 lights that are colored blue, purple, and green. (Blue represents the night that Jesus was born, purple represents Jesus’ royalty, and green represents the everlasting life we have from Jesus’ birth.) One half of one of those strings isn’t working and as I tried to fix it, less and lights worked. I think what I am going to do is pick up a basic string of white lights and replace the string, I should have plenty of lights to make it work.
The rest of the afternoon has been watching football. First we watched the Lake Effect Bowl in Buffalo and now we are watching the Eagles play the Rams. All in all it’s been a good day. We had a good worship service this morning and I preached “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” about the second coming of Jesus. Pam will be preaching next week. Her message will be “While Shepherds Watched their Flocks.”
On Friday night, we were at Emmaus Road and it was just Pam and I leading worship. We also spent this week getting ready for some of our upcoming events – the Blue Christmas Service and Christmas Eve.
I really can’t think of much more. Have a great 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.