December 1: The Hope of Christ: When Will He Come?
Scripture: Matthew 24:36-44
During the season of Advent, the Christian church focuses not just on the first coming of Jesus at Christmas, but on the second coming of Jesus. We know when He came the first time, and we are counting the days until we celebrate His first coming. But when will He come again?
Jesus has been coming back for so long that plenty of people have given up on Him. Before Jesus died, He told His followers He would be right back, but only God knows when. Then He gave us this advice about how to live in the tension between His first coming and His second coming: “Keep awake, watch, be vigilant, be on the lookout.”
Does Jesus’ second coming sound more like a promise or a threat to you? Does it strike a note of fear or hope in your heart?
December 8: The Peace of Christ: A Dream or An Assignment?
Scripture: Luke 2:1-14
“Peace on earth, goodwill to all?” Seriously? When I hear those words, I almost expect to hear old Andy Williams singing To Dream the Impossible Dream. Just open your news feed or pick up a newspaper. Watch the news on TV or just look at the images that appear on your phone, and you will likely conclude that “peace on earth, goodwill to all” might be a nice idea, but it is an impossible dream. How did we ever come up with that dream in the first place? Well, we didn’t come up with that dream on our own. It is God’s dream. And God’s dreams always have a way of coming true.
December 15: The Joy of Christ: Do You Hear the Angels Sing?
The Sanctuary Choir and Chamber Ensemble delighted us with special Christmas music at both the 9:10 and 10:30 worship services, including accompanying narrations by Stephen Clyborne.
December 22: The Love of Christ: What's in a Name?
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25
In her book, The Baby Name Wizard, Laura Wattenberg said, "We're in the middle of a naming revolution . . . Parents are putting a much higher premium on distinctiveness." It used to be that names were chosen so that children would fit in and blend in. Now names are more likely to be chosen so children will stand out.
The name “Jesus,” for example, was very common in the first century. Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of many people named Jesus. So the name “Jesus” in first-century Palestine would not have stood out, but would have blended in. And in that sense, there was nothing special about His name. But because of who that Baby became, His name now stands out above every other name. That common name is now revered.
The angel first announced the Baby’s name to Joseph, and gave the reason for the name. God’s love for the world and Jesus’ love for us - - indeed the whole gospel message - - it is all captured in the wonderful name of Jesus.