Advent is upon us and this week we remember and celebrate that Jesus not only came the first time as a baby – as the Word of God made flesh, but He is coming again as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It’s the first Sunday night – on the first day of December. What an interesting day today has turned out to be. More on that in a moment.
This week was Thanksgiving. Last Sunday night we had a wonderful time with our community. Each year the community ministerial association hosts a Thanksgiving Service. For the last three years I have been honored to lead the musical worship, which also means directing a community choir. It was a long day in addition to our regular service on Sunday, but it was beautiful.
Pam and I had our regular bus runs Monday through Wednesday, but with holiday influenced changes. On Tuesday, we headed up to Houghton to pick up James for the Thanksgiving weekend. We had a great time with James at home for a couple of days. He was under the weather, just getting over a cold.
Our church collected Thanksgiving dinners for two families in our community. It was so cool to see the looks on their faces when we told them that we were bringing them food. This is what it means – in part – to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
For our Thanksgiving dinner, we tried to do something different and were mostly successful at it. Instead of turkey, we had a local Western New York favorite, Beef-on-Weck. That was purchased locally and all we had to do was put it in the crockpot to warm it. The rest of the dinner was semi-home made or homemade. We had Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Filling. It’s Pam’s dad’s recipe with some modifications I have mad over the years, but remains very true to the original recipe. This was made from scratch except for the bread. We also had some bread stuffing that we made from scratch with some pumpernickel bread we had left over. That was really good. Anna helped spice the bread. She also made cranberry sauce that was very good. I finished it off tonight on top of vanilla ice cream. We also did a sweet potato casserole. To finish it off we did a string casserole made with our own mushroom soup – Anna did a great job with that. Pam also made a great apple pie.
Friday and Saturday we used to rest. It’s been a long time since we could do that. We did go out shopping for some things we needed.
On Friday, we became aware of a storm that was targeted at this morning. We got up this morning and had some ice on the car, but the roads were good. Just about the time people would start coming to church for Sunday School it got strange – sleet, snow, rain mixed together – I had everything salted before all that started. A few brave souls made it for Sunday School, but we had no Sunday School teacher. Since we were ready for worship, and it really seemed like no one else would be there, we had worship early. I led the musical worship and the other parts of the worship and Pam preached. She did a great job leading off on our new series called Unpleasant Presents. I’ll put a link to the video below.
Tomorrow in the spirit of Pennsylvania, we still have a day off. Anna goes back tomorrow. At noon we have a prayer meeting with our local pastors. I am looking forward to that. Otherwise things should get back to normal on Tuesday. Have a great week.
Almighty 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.
First Sunday of Advent | December 1, 2019
36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
40 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.
42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.
Matthew 24:36-44 New Living Translation (NLT)
Now that Thanksgiving is over, most people are “ready” for Christmas. I know even in our own family, we try not to play Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Occasionally we break our own rules. There is a temptation now that Thanksgiving is over, almost everyone is in Christmas mode. We even have all the Black Friday sales. It seems everyone is Christmas…Christmas…Christmas…all the time…24 hours a day…seven days a week.
Tomorrow we begin the season of Advent. While most everyone thinks that Advent is the same as Christmas, it’s not. Advent is a season of waiting – Advent is a season of expectation – Advent is a season of preparation – Advent is a season of watching.
The gospel reading for tomorrow comes from the book of Matthew and it’s not the story of the angel coming to Joseph – but Jesus teaching the people about the future – about his second advent. The first time that Jesus came, he came as a baby, born to a carpenter. The next time Jesus comes, he will come as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The first time Jesus came, Pilate stood before Jesus, the next time he comes Pilate will stand before Him.
Jesus is coming again and no one knows that day or the hour. Many like to think they can figure out – like the Bible is some kind of secret code book. But that’s not the way it works. Jesus said that the only one who knows the day or the hour is Father God himself.
As I mentioned in my sermons over the last week, I believe that everything that needs to happen before Jesus returns has already happened. The Second Advent or Second Coming is the next big event on God’s calendar. We need to be ready – we need to keep watch. Why? Because Jesus said the day he returns will be like the days of Noah. In the days of Noah the people were going about their ordinary, everyday lives – not knowing the flood would come. It will be like that when Jesus returns and people will be swept away to judgment.
Jesus says because of this, “You must keep watch!” Jesus said he will return when we least expect it. We need to watch – prepare for Jesus return. Many people in First Century Israel missed his first coming. The same will happen when Jesus returns a second time. Many people will miss it because they didn’t prepare for his return. As we enter this season of waiting and preparation, let us watch for his return – even as we get ready to celebrate his birth.
Thanksgiving has come and gone and so that means so has most of November. Today is the last day of the month, so instead of a weekly running update, which I really haven’t done in November, I’ll give you a monthly summary.
Today I got back on the track. The last time I was there was last Saturday. We had a community thanksgiving service on Sunday and I was in my dress shoes all day and developed some kind of blister on the bottom of my right foot. I wasn’t able to run until Thursday, but the Y was closed. Yesterday Pam and I walked together and today I decided I better do 5 miles.
The early part of the run reminded me of the Christmas cartoon with the song “Put One Foot In Front of the Other.”
As the run progressed, it got much better. That run brought me to 78 miles for November which happens to be the monthly average for the year. With one month left in the year – at my current average, I will end up at 925 miles for the month – anything above that will be gravy. My goal was 1,254 miles or 2,019 KM. I will fall short of those goals. But it was good to be moving again – way too much thanksgiving food. And now – we keep pressing on!
Thanksgiving Day | November 28, 2019
25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:25-35 New Living Translation (NLT)
Here in the United States it is a national holiday. Our family has put together our thanksgiving meal and soon it will be time to put it in the oven. For us, it will just be us and the kids who live at home. One of our Thanksgiving traditions is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. When we lived in Flint, MI the girls were so disappointed because the local channel broadcast the Santa Claus Parade from Detroit.
One things about thanksgiving dinner is that is is full of carbs and starches – at least ours is this year. It got me to thinking about the today’s scripture from the gospel of John. This story happens the day after Jesus has fed the 5,000 – and the day after Jesus walks on the water. The people are following Jesus because of his miracles – not necessarily for his teachings and not necessarily for the fact that He is the Word of God.
The people were following Jesus and he took time to teach them more about the Kingdom of God. While food is important in our lives – it is not what we should be pursuing. If we want to receive the approval of God, we should seek the Son of God. Most importantly we should believe in Jesus.
What’s crazy is that the people are looking for another miracle. They are looking for bread from heaven – in other words – manna. They want Jesus to do the same thing Moses did in the wilderness and Jesus reminds them that the manna didn’t come from Moses – the manna came from Father God. God is the one who offers true bread and gives life.
Today we need to be thankful for the bread that comes from the work of our hands, but also comes from our Father in heaven. If we receive the bread of life – we will never be spiritually hungry again. Whoever believes in Jesus will never be thirsty again.
Today we give thanks for all of God’s blessings…but we give thanks to God for sending us the Bread of Life – the bread from heaven. Thanks be to God, who gives us salvation through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.