Saturday, December 24, 2016

Peace (Christmas Eve)

• Christmas Eve
with Luke 2:1-20  and  Titus 2:11-14
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• Another Christmas Eve, another retelling of the ancient story, perhaps another gathering with family and loved ones, perhaps painfully aware of an empty place, new or old.
Always glad to be in touch with each other and with God and with life, sacred time or not.
And sacred in some senses is what we make it by being fully present.
• “In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone should be taxed…”
We get a couple, the woman pregnant and likely young and poor, traveling via beast, finding shelter in someone’s garage. We get shepherds – the migrant workers of the day – working the night shift, and we get angels.
      A little bit of everything. A congruence of people that would have nothing to do together normally. Maybe not unlike a church service? Or maybe an AA or NA meeting? Variety of people with different needs, concerns, strengths, worries, abilities, at the same place at the same time.
      Sharing a need for peace. Like us.
      At the sunset of one president, hated and beloved, and on the dawn of a new president, hated and beloved. In a community filled with hope strength and dignity and plagued by addiction violence and poverty. In a nation and in a denomination with great passion and with great division. In a world (((Same)))
• Birth of a baby levels status. Contains hope, necessitates selflessness, cooperation. Kindles heart. Possibility of peace. Birth of Jesus Lord of Lords, Messiah, Savior, Prince of Peace.
• Peace. Biblically shalom. Completeness, soundness. Wholeness of life or body, right relationship. Success. Absence of war.
      Both greeting and farewell. A wish for you from me.
• Celebration of Advent not only preparation of celebration of birth of Jesus but also anticipation of the return of Christ, of the power of God living in our mixedup circumstances, blessing gracing us with his presence, guiding us as we live God’s kingdom as witnesses and heralds.
• 1967 Peace My Friends looks back and forward, through variety of circumstances.

      Peace I leave with you, my friends.                      1. To share his love is why I came.
Shalom, my peace, in all you do.                           To show his kindness to all lives.
Peace I leave with you, my friends;                      Go now, my friends, and do the same
I give to you so you can give to others, too.      Until I come again.
      2. Take my hand and be at peace.                       3. With this love all folks will know
The spirit of our love I send,                                That loneliness is at an end.
And with this love you will be free                    Rejoice, my people, though I go,
Until I come again.                                                For I will come again.
                                                                                         Words and music by Ray Repp, © 1967
For those who are struggling with some sort of personal problem, it is a promise of healing.
For those who don’t believe Jesus Christ is the son of God,
it is a glimpse of God’s love for all God’s children.
For those who feel like the whole world is in the violent throes of chaos and confusion,
it is a moment of respite and reflection.
For those who live in darkness and fear, it casts great light: the pledge that a new day,
a new week, a new year, a new life, is coming for each and every one of us.
For those who imagine that this world isn’t worth saving, it speaks a word of hope.
And for those who on this night find themselves at odds with someone or something,
it offers a promise of peace that passes all understanding, now and forevermore.
• into Communion liturgy

Titus 2:11-14 New International Version (NIV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. X

Luke 2:1-7 Common English Bible (CEB)

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom. X

Sunday, December 18, 2016

DREAM

• 4th Sunday of Advent
with Matthew 1:18-25
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• We had the children’s musical at the Baptist Church on Wednesday, Fact or Fiction: the Christmas Edition. Game show with Christmas Bible trivia and a message of the changed life of a disciple.
Lyrics: Fact, what is true. Fiction is pretend.
What about dreams?
• 1865 German chemist August KekulĂ© dreamed the ring-shaped molecular structure for the compound benzene.
Almost 100 years later American biologist James Watson dreamed of a spiral staircase and figured out the double-helix structure of DNA.
• Humans dream every night, about two hours, maybe half a dozen dreams.
Blood flow to the brain increases during dreams, more so than wakefulness.
It’s like brain exercise!
• Sometimes I think we should ask God to speak to us in dreams.
• Joseph received a message from an angel during a dream.
Chose to follow message, despite circumstances.
A long-lasting decision that had long-lasting effects.
What do you do with a good/bad dream?
Do you tell? What do you do with a message dream?
Joseph chose to act as though dream were real.
Newlyweds: now you’re married, do you feel married?
Doesn’t matter, better behave married!
Joseph lived the rest of his life as though his dream were real. Why?
And how do we live? Not everyone believes…
Live with the conviction that the truth of the story is worth living for.
•So discipleship. So Advent message.
Choose to live in expectation of Christ’s real return.
Choose to live in faith that the stories of Jesus are fact not fiction
and that through the real life of Jesus
there are real effects in my life today.
Forgiven, reconciled, hope
Because he lives…

• Hymn 230 O Little Town

Matthew 1:18-25 (CEB)   
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. 20 As Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:
23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel.
(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

24 When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus. X

Sunday, December 11, 2016

O Holy Night

The Third Sunday of Advent we had worship in song with a Christmas cantata called "O Holy Night!" arranged by Russell Mauldin.

We combined our choir with Bville Baptist Church and a community orchestra.

Here's the evening performance at BBC:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

TURN

• 2nd Sunday of Advent
with Matthew 3:1-12
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• Last week: Watch. Be like Bob.
Do what you can with what you have.
• Who’s excited for Christmas? Why?
Emmanuel, God-is-with-us…
Who looks forward to the return of Christ? Why?
There’s something terribly frightening about the return of Christ… he’ll come in like a lion…
• Today’s Gospel reading introduces us to John the Baptist.
What would your reaction be if you saw this guy on the street? Cross the street to avoid him!
And yet, people go out of their way to hear him.
And then they confessed their sins?
I’d rather have my teeth pulled!
What might motivate you to humble yourself,
to confess your sins to a maniac street preacher?
• Consider that feeling when a cop car pulls behind you…
Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, sinking feeling.
Shouldn’t be that way. Need to turn, to rightsize cops.
(And seek to drive right.)
How about meeting God, how about return of Christ?
Both terrific and terrifying. Need to turn, need to rightsize God.
God is more terrifying than we imagine
AND God’s grace is much greater than we imagine.
• Another thing from this passage: Christianity is not something you merely say, but verse 8 produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. They’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Merely being religious is no guarantee of being right with God.
James 1:27 (brother of Jesus): Religion that is pure and faultless is this, to look after the orphan and the widow in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
• AND knowledge that God’s grace is not dependent on my faithfulness.
I want to be closer to God. To be the me God made me to be.
Your words are sweeter than honey. By your teachings I gain understanding.
Psalm 119:103-104

• Hymn 142 If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee

Matthew 3:1-12 (CEB)
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
        “Prepare the way for the Lord;
        make his paths straight.”[Isa 40:3]
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.

5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.” X