November 28, 2021

Advent 1 Worship

Today is the First Sunday of Advent, a season of four Sundays during which we prepare for the birth of Christ. Though we do sing some Christmas carols during Advent in our church, today we stuck to Advent songs, singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and Come, Though Long-Expected Jesus. The Pilgrim 6 (a women's musical group) sang two pieces for us during worship. The children joined me in lighting the first candle on the Advent wreath. 

Here is a video of the service in its entirety (except for the final half of the benediction response—there was a small technical difficulty), beneath which (click "read more") you can find a complete transcript of today's sermon.


A Magnificent Work

Let your steadfast love become my comfort according to your promise to your servant.
Psalm 119:76
One of the unsung heroes of the story of Jesus' life is the prophet Simeon. He is mentioned only once: When Mary and Joseph brought their infant Son to the temple to be dedicated. Simeon somehow knew that he would live to see a new age ushered in, and so he waited faithfully. The Bible doesn't tell us how long he had waited, but we get the impression it was a long time. Nor does it tell us what he did during his long wait. But if all he did was to receive the children of Israel into his arms and bless them, then that alone was a magnificent work of God: he was sharing steadfast and unconditional love 

November 27, 2021

Advent 2021


Here's a little video (click "read more") I prepared for those who want to observe Advent by lighting the candles, but can't come to church. Beneath it, there's a menu to show you where on the video to find each Sunday (plus Christmas Eve).

Wholeness

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
Psalm 17:7
When we speak of God as Savior, what we mean is that in God we find wholeness. When we are threatened physically, wholeness might primarily mean that our lives are spared or that our body is preserved uninjured. This was often of prime importance in the Hebrew Bible, which contained struggles with external enemies.

But in the New Testament, wholeness is both physical and spiritual, and we find Jesus connecting the two. For example, how often, when Jesus heals someone's affliction, does he also forgive them their sin? 

November 26, 2021

Thanksgiving Confession

He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?
Psalm 94:9
Jesus talked about prayer quite a bit in his Sermon on the Mount. And in preaching on Matthew 6, John Wesley had this to say: The end of your praying is not to inform God, as though he knew not your wants already; but rather to inform yourselves; to fix the sense of those wants more deeply in your hearts, and the sense of your continual dependence on him who only is able to supply all your wants. It is not so much to move God, who is always more ready to give than you to ask, as to move yourselves, that you may be willing and ready to receive the good things he has prepared for you.